The BBC: NATO’s media partner-in-crime By William Bowles

25 October 2011

Well they’ve finally silenced Muammar Gaddafi, the man the BBC calls “an oddball until the end”. The manner of his capture and death seems not to bother the BBC but then who cares about ‘oddballs’?

The video, with commentary by the BBC’s chief foreign correspondent propagandist for NATO John Simpson:

“looks back at the life of a man who “remained a one-off, an oddball right until the end”. — BBC News, 20 October 2011

Attacked by NATO jets, then tortured and shot in cold blood in front of jubilant ‘rebels’, all Simpson has to offer is the perpetuation of racist Western myths about the Arabs, about the ‘other’. Disgusting stuff but totally in tune with BBC’s role as NATO’s media partner.

Other commentators however, had a somewhat different take on events, for example:

“The faces of the leaders of ‘world democracies’ are so happy, as if they remembered how they hanged stray cats in basements in their childhoods,’ Russian envoy to NATO and the leader of the Congress of Russian Communities, Dmitry Rogozin, described how the West treated the cold-blooded murder of Moammur Gaddafi.” — ‘Envoy slams ‘sadistic’ triumphalism‘, RT, 22 October 2011

Hence the BBC’s focus on Gaddafi the ‘oddball’ and the ‘last of the buffoon dictators’, anything to dehumanize the man, all the better to justify his murder.

Meanwhile, back in TV-land the BBC’s ‘coverage’ of Gaddafi’s death veered wildly, first in one direction and then in another as it attempted to adjust its wobbly spin on things. Strikingly, not a single story questions the nature of his capture and subsequent murder, and the role NATO played in Gaddafi’s murder is hinted at in only two pieces on the 20 October (see below).

(Earliest to latest)

20 October 2011
Fallen hero of Libya’s final battle (obviously not about Gaddafi but about the ‘heroic’ rebels focusing on a Brit who had joined the ‘rebels’, got shot and died)

VIDEO: Libyan forces ‘capture Gaddafi’ (12:37pm replete with talk that most were glad that “the hated dictator” had been caught and according to the text, “Deposed Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi has been captured and wounded in both legs, the National Transitional Council has said” though it’s not stated in the video).

VIDEO: Libyan TV announces Gaddafi ‘capture’ (13:01) (NTC TV announcement of Gaddafi’s capture “Libyan TV’s news presenter thanked God as he announced the reports that Col Muammar Gaddafi had been captured by rebels in Sirte.”)

Libya’s Muammar Gaddafi ‘killed’ (22:01) This is the most disingenuous of the BBC’s propaganda blitz on behalf of NATO replete with the allegation that Gaddafi had a “golden gun” when he was captured, an allegation that disappeared almost immediately just like the ‘African mercenaries’ and ‘bombing of civilians’ disinfo that acted as the justification for unleashing the Dogs of War on defenceless Libya.

This is one of only two references to a NATO attack on Gaddafi’s convoy and it’s pretty much a NATO press release rehashed:

“Nato, which has been running a bombing campaign in Libya for months, said it had carried out an air strike earlier on Thursday.

“French Defence Minister Gerard Longuet said French jets had fired warning shots to halt a convoy carrying Col Gaddafi as it tried to flee Sirte.

“He said Libyan fighters had then descended and taken the colonel.”

It then quotes Mr Jibril (ex)leader of the NTC who alleged that:

“When the car [with Gaddafi onboard and already wounded] was moving it was caught in crossfire between the revolutionaries and Gaddafi forces in which he was hit by a bullet in the head,” said Mr Jibril, quoting from the report.

Not content with presenting this allegation as news, the piece presents us with some of the other allegations doing the rounds, though the piece opened with the ‘crossfire’ version of Gaddafi’s murder, obviously the preferred one coming as it did from the NTC itself.

“Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril announced the death, and later said the colonel had been killed in a crossfire between Gaddafi loyalists and fighters from the transitional authorities.”

But just to be on the safe side, the BBC gives us some alternate endings to choose from later in the piece:

“Earlier, some NTC fighters gave a different account of the colonel’s death, saying he had been shot when he tried to escape.

“One NTC fighter told the BBC that he found Col Gaddafi hiding in a hole, and the former leader had begged him not to shoot.

“The fighter showed reporters a golden pistol he said he had taken from Col Gaddafi.

“Arabic TV channels showed images of troops surrounding two large drainage pipes where the reporters said Col Gaddafi was found.

None of which were true but the last fabrication about Gaddafi being found in a drain with its echoes of the image of Saddam Hussein down a hole made the headlines first, such is the power of the BBC to shape our take on events. The BBC even ran the footage as ‘news’.

Later on the same day, another BBC correspondent propagandist for NATO, Jeremy Bowen allegedly explains in ‘How Gaddafi’s power collapsed‘ that the rebels, “helped” by NATO bombing overthrew Gaddafi.

Finally at 11pm, almost eleven hours after its first report, the BBC ran this story on its main news titled ‘Gaddafi’s demise: End of a dictator‘ which opens,”[Gaddafi] was found cowering in a storm drain after his convoy was attacked by NATO jets” though the voiceover tells us that he was found in a ditch and once more repeats the fabrication of (ex)-Acting Prime Minister Mahmoud Jibril that “the colonel had been killed in a crossfire between Gaddafi loyalists and fighters from the transitional authorities.”

Amazingly, the fact that the cellphone video shows Gaddafi, covered in blood and alive in the back of a pickup truck being kicked around and struggling, seems not to bother the BBC, allegedly anal about attention to detail. But who cares, what dramatic footage even if it’s only 2 megapixels-worth?

Three days later (23/10/11) the BBC ran a story titled, ‘Does new video provide clues as to who killed Gaddafi?‘. In it we are shown a Libyan ‘rebel’ surrounded by his mates who announce that this is the man who shot Gaddafi through the head, waving the pistol around. But the BBC, now in a bind over its punting of the “crossfire” story from day one leaves the last word to (ex) Acting Prime Minister Jibril who states once again that Gaddafi was “killed in crossfire”.

Thus the much-vaunted BBC, famed for its ‘impartiality’ is now quite happy to run barely legible footage shot on a cellphone, throw in a quote from the (ex) acting-prime minister and call it the truth.

Note: See also the excellent Media Lens piece that also deals with the print media’s handling of the bloodthirsty deed.

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