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Complaint upheld about Newsnight on suicide bombers

 
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David C
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Joined: 12 Jan 2004
Posts: 234
Location: Southampton

Post Post subject: Complaint upheld about Newsnight on suicide bombers Reply with quote

[From Palestine Solidarity Campaign]

Press release
14 July 2011

BBC rules on Newsnight complaint

The BBC has upheld a complaint that Jeremy Paxman failed to adequately challenge Louise Ellman MP on false claims she made about child suicide bombers during an edition of Newsnight.

Paxman, who has famously been described as a Rottweiler for his aggressive style of interviewing, allowed Ellman to go completely unchallenged on three occasions as she made the claims that child suicide bombers are being used to target Israel from Gaza.

This week, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit ruled that Ellman’s claims should have been challenged and Paxman failed to do this.

Andy Bell, Complaints Director of the ECU, issued an apology on behalf of the BBC for what he described as its ‘lapse in editorial standards’.

Amena Saleem of Palestine Solidarity Campaign (PSC), which complained to the BBC following the edition of Newsnight on 14 February, 2011, said: ‘Louise Ellman clearly went on Newsnight with a set agenda and had no intention of discussing the issues raised in the relevant item, which focused on the poverty suffered by children in Gaza as a result of Israel’s illegal siege.

‘Instead, she used her appearance to make false claims about children being used as suicide bombers and, instead of challenging these claims, Paxman allowed her to repeat the lie three times.’

Ms Saleem added: ‘Paxman may be known in journalistic circles as a Rottweiler but his weak interview with Ellman has left him looking more like a poodle.’

In its original response to PSC’s complaint, the BBC claimed that Paxman had been ‘robust’ in his challenges to Ellman. This was challenged by PSC, leading to this week’s ruling

Ms Saleem said: ‘It’s taken five months to get the BBC to admit to Jeremy Paxman’s failings during this interview and apologise, but we welcome this eventual decision.’

The BBC is due to post its ruling at: http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints/content/ecu/

Ends

---

Letter from Andy Bell, Complaints Director of the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit

Newsnight, BBC2, 14 February 2011

I am writing to let you know the outcome of our investigation into your complaint about this programme. I am sorry that you were not happy with the response that you received when you first raised this matter with the BBC and I hope that I can address your concerns here. I’m also sorry that it has taken us longer to let you know our conclusions than we originally led you to expect.

You complained that some of the claims made by Louise Ellman MP during the discussion - particularly the claim that Hamas sent child suicide bombers from Gaza to attack Israel and Israeli children – were highly controversial and should have been the subject of some challenge by the studio presenter but that they were not. I note that, in the initial response you received, it was stated that, in the view of the programme, the claims made by Ms Ellman had been the subject of appropriate challenge. Having watched the item a number of times, however, we have found no basis for that view. Ms Ellman first made the point in the following terms:

…the problem is Hamas, who use these children as human shields, who give the children explosives, or sometimes force them to have explosive belts, and send them to blow up Israeli civilians.

This passed without remark. Later in the discussion, she returned to the theme in these terms:

How can they meet, and how can we be without a barrier, when Hamas are sending those very children with their explosive belts across to kill Israeli children and Israeli civilians? All of that has to stop, and nobody is entirely innocent…

At this point, Jeremy Paxman intervened, but not with the effect of challenging Ms Ellman’s assertion. Instead, he directed himself to Michael Morpurgo (whose film of children in Israel and Gaza had preceded the discussion), with the words “We didn’t get a whisper of children with explosive belts on them in your piece”, to which Mr Morpurgo responded simply by saying he had met no such children.

I should add that, on the basis of the evidence reviewed during our investigation, I accept that the claim in question should have been challenged. The most recent instance we could identify of a suicide bombing by a child (in the sense of someone under the age of 18 ) in which Hamas was implicated was the bombing carried out by the 17 year-old Khamis Gerwan in 2003. It may well be that Ms Ellman had in mind instances which dated back to 2003 or earlier, but she spoke in the present tense, and in terms which gave the impression that the use of child suicide-bombers by Hamas was a key consideration in the current situation.

I’m therefore upholding your complaint. A summary of my conclusion, with a note of the action taken, will be published in the complaints section of the BBC website, bbc.co.uk. I will, of course, send you a copy when it has been posted. In the meantime I hope you will accept my apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the lapse in editorial standards you identified, and my thanks for giving us the opportunity of investigating your concerns.

---


Please email Newsnight and ask why Mr Paxman failed to challenge Louise Ellman on the occasions in question, and whether this failure amounts to deliberate bias (his approach to her claims was neither fair nor impartial). Ask what steps Newsnight editors will be taking to ensure such failures in questioning won't happen again?

The email address is newsnight@bbc.co.uk


Last edited by David C on Sun Jul 17, 2011 7:40 pm; edited 2 times in total
Thu Jul 14, 2011 8:56 am
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johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent work, Amena and PSC.

Letter to Newsnight:

Dear Editor

The BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit has just upheld a complaint made by Amena Saleem of the Palestine Solidarity Campaign against Jeremy Paxman over his failings in a recent Newsnight discussion on Palestine-Israel.

Details of the ruling and further discussion of the issues by the complainant can be seen here:

http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=11281

As you will see, the complaint is overwhelmingly valid, revealing Mr Paxman's repeated failure to challenge blatantly false assertions made by Louise Ellman MP about 'child suicide bombers'.

It was only through persistent communications to the BBC that the complaint was finally considered and upheld.

Meanwhile, major distortions of the truth have been allowed a public airing.

It's customary in the press to print a redress-type apology over such failures of information or journalistic negligence.

Can I request that Jeremy Paxman or another of your presenters find time to state likewise on a forthcoming Newsnight edition.

Kind regards

John Hilley


Last edited by johnwhilley on Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total
Thu Jul 14, 2011 10:37 am
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johnwhilley



Joined: 03 Oct 2004
Posts: 724
Location: Glasgow

Post Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Sir/Madam,

Andy Bell, Complaints Director of the BBC's Editorial Complaints Unit, [offers] "apologies, on behalf of the BBC, for the lapse in editorial standards" regarding Jeremy Paxman's performance on Newsnight, BBC2, 14 February 2011

Please, take the time to read all the details - including the appalling remarks of Jeremy Paxman in that edition of Newsnight - at http://www.medialens.org/forum/viewtopic.php?p=11281

I'm sure Newsnight will inform its viewers about Andy Bell's decision in one of its next editions and will apologise "for the lapse in editorial standards" of Mr Paxman. Or should I believe all these days talks on ethics in journalism regard only News of the World?

Thank you for your time

Kind regards,
Gabriele Zamparini
Thu Jul 14, 2011 11:37 am
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Williamtheb



Joined: 21 Aug 2009
Posts: 57

Post Post subject: "How do you get rid of him?" Standard, shameful pe Reply with quote

Quote: "Recall the two guys jailed for four years for failing to incite a riot? Meet BBC 'journalism':

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/newsnight/9585770.stm

Even Rumsfeld seems a bit taken aback.

Eds


Responses:

"Taken aback"? More like shocked!!! nm - sandtrout2010 Today, 10:30 pm
« " From MediaLens Message board
Fri Sep 09, 2011 10:46 pm
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