The BBC and Bradley Manning: censorship, incompetence or cowardice?

Whenever we see reports of censorship by Britain’s state broadcaster, the BBC, we find it rather hard whether to describe this as censorship, cowardice, cock-up, ignorance or sheer lack of editorial integrity.

Here’s the latest instance, involving prevarications by the BBC over an invitation to British human rights activist and former ambassador Craig Murray to discuss US whistleblower Bradley Manning. Writing in his blog, Murray says – and it’s worth quoting at length:

I was invited then disinvited to discuss Bradley Manning on BBC Breakfast TV this morning. I was delighted and really surprised that the BBC were prepared to give such prime media exposure to the case against the persecution of Manning. I should have realised it would not be allowed to happen.

I was asked to appear twice, once after 7 and once after 8, and to explain why the case of Bradley Manning ought to concern people in the UK… I had reached so far as Euston from St Pancras [train stations] yesterday when I discovered, rather by chance, that my slots on BBC Breakfast had been cancelled. I was instead offered a single live interview at 6.40 a.m. that would not be repeated.

I suppose the BBC are at least being more subtle; instead of management intervention outright to cancel a possible airing of dissident thought, they are pretending to give it a voice by broadcasting it before 95 per cent of the audience are awake. I was not prepared to participate in such tokenism, so I turned round and came home.

It of course brings back memories of when I was on my way to Leeds to take part in BBC “Question Time”, and was cancelled en route, and replaced by another neo-con clone. A Freedom of Information Act request for the documents and emails concerning that cancellation was refused by the BBC on the grounds of a Freedom of Information exemption for journalism. Censorship is not journalism.

Good to see that the odious war criminal James Purnell is earning his GBP 295,000 a year by keeping the airwaves free of thought.

Given the extraordinary amount of time the BBC has devoted to promoting the ludicrous trumped up charges against Julian Assange, their non-coverage of the Bradley Manning trial today is chilling.

The “odious war criminal James Purnell” whom Murray refers to is a notorious apologist for Israel and Zionism who has been appointed by the BBC’s new director, Tony Hall, as head of the corporation’s policy, strategy, digital services, public affairs, communications, marketing and audience research.

Purnell was joined at the BBC by another Israel flag waver, James Harding, who was appointed by Hall as Director of BBC News. According to Electronic Intifada, in 2011 Harding spoke at a media event organized by the Jewish Chronicle, telling his audience:

I am pro-Israel. I believe in the state of Israel. I would have had a real problem if I had been coming to a paper [The Times, of which he was editor before taking up his BBC job] with a history of being anti-Israel. And, of course, Rupert Murdoch is pro-Israel.

So, despite its official commitment to impartial, balanced and fair reporting, the BBC is not short of staff with questionable allegiances, in this case Israel flag wavers in high positions. Moreover, as we’ve seen from the endless chain of scandals engulfing it, nor is it short of incompetents, ignoramuses and cowards and, above all, opportunist who wouldn’t dream of doing anything that might harm their career prospects.

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