Different River

”You can never step in the same river twice.” –Heraclitus

July 13, 2005

Minds in London Changed Back

Filed under: — Different River @ 11:51 am

Looks like I spoke too soon. I noted on July 7, the day of the terrorist attacks in London, that the BBC was actually calling the terrorist attacks “terrorism” and the perpetrators “terrorists.”

It turns out this lasted barely a day. On July 8, Gene at Harry’s Place (a blogger, what else?) noticed that the BBC web site had switched back to avoiding the terms “terrorist” and “terrorism” — replacing them with words like “bombers,” “suspects,” and “bomb attack.” Not only that, but the BBC retroactively changed stories on its web site to edit out the word “terrorist.” Gene provides evidence from the Google cache:

And the article it links to:

The Google excerpt shows how the article originally appeared; the article excerpt is how it appeared a day later.

Gene post another example, and says there are more.

It seems to have taken the “mainstream media” at least three days to pick up on the change — articles reporting it appeared on July 11 in the Jerusalem Post, and on July 12 in the London Telegraph. The Jerusalem Post article stated:

Presumably hoping that no one would notice, the BBC subtly and retroactively altered its initial texts about the bombs on both its British and international Web sites. Unfortunately for the BBC, however, previous versions of its webpages remained easily accessible to all on Google, and enterprising British bloggers, long-fed up with the BBC’s bias, recorded the changes.

They even credited the bloggers!

“Harry’s Place” noted, for example, that on Thursday evening a BBC News webpage headlined “Bus man may have seen terrorist,” began “A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the terrorist bomb attacks in London. Richard Jones, from Binfield, had got a bus just before it was blown up….”

But on Friday at 10:14 a.m. GMT, that webpage was suddenly changed. The headline now reads “Passenger believes he saw bomber,” and the text begins “A bus passenger says he may have seen one of those responsible for the bomb attacks in London. Richard Jones, from Binfield, had got a bus just before it was blown up…”

There are other examples of similar censorship occurring at the BBC. Stalin himself could hardly have done a better job of overseeing its award-winning Web site.

The Telegraph even got an official reaction:

A BBC spokesman said last night: “The word terrorist is not banned from the BBC.”

No, it’s not — they still leave the word in when quoting public officials who use it. But that’s not exactly the point. They were not accused of misquoting people; they were accused of refusing to describe terrorists as such.

Of course, they have no trouble reporting foreign reactions with alacrity. As the Jerusalem Post article noted:

In its round-up of world reactions, BBC online was also quick to highlight the views of conspiracy theorists. The very first article listed by the BBC started by quoting Iranian cleric Ayatollah Mohammad Emami-Kashani saying Israel was behind the London attacks. It was followed by a commentary on Iranian state radio explicitly blaming the Mossad.

With its unprecedented worldwide news reach (its radio service alone, broadcasting in 43 languages, attracts over 150 million listeners), BBC coverage is important in formulating worldwide public opinion.

The article with that particular reaction is here.

Does this mean Israel is supposed to be grateful that the BBC did not label them as terrorists?

It seems that the only thing wrong with George Orwell’s 1984 is that it was a few years off in predicting when “newspeak” would come to London.

Postscript:
Harry of Harry’s House rounds up the coverage of all this and explains why it is not “partisan” to call a terrorist a terrorist. Terrorism has a specific, agreed-upon meaning in international law.

Also, thanks to Instapundit for the pointer.

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