On 3 April, Twitter users accused the BBC of telling a “flat out lie” on News at Six, and echoing right-wing propaganda in the process. And they were not impressed.
The controversy related to an article from Guido Fawkes, which had attacked left-wing Jewish group Jewdas. Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn had attended the group’s Seder (a traditional Passover feast), so the “hard right” gossip-factory hit out at Jewdas for criticising right-wingers who use antisemitism as a political football.
In the wake of the Guido Fawkes piece, Jewdas clarified:
Let's make something clear: we do NOT believe accusations of antisemitism in Labour and the left are nothing more than smears. We have questioned the Jewish establishments cherry picking of antisemitic incidents to suit their agenda.
— jewdⒶs // יידהודה (@jewdas) April 3, 2018
The BBC, however, apparently didn’t get that memo. On 3 April’s BBC News at Six – broadcast hours after the above tweet, the outlet said that Jewdas had “argued that there’s no problem with antisemitism in Labour”:
This is a flat out lie from BBC News at Six.
Jewdas has not argued there's no problem with antisemitism in Labour. It takes 1 minute to find that out.
— Alex Nunns (@alexnunns) April 3, 2018
Part of what makes @geoffreyjewdas such an awesome force within the diaspora Jewish left; they put together this useful "How to criticise Israel without being anti-semitic" guide specifically for fighting anti-semitism within left-wing circles https://t.co/v6OfDbrHnF
— 🌹✡️🇵🇸 A Frightful Hobgoblin is Haunting Europe (@Red_Pleb) April 3, 2018
— Maxim Gertler-Jaffe (@MaximGJ) April 3, 2018
Last tweet from me on this – as Jewish voices are WAY MORE IMPORTANT – but look at the date stamp: @geoffreyjewdas were tackling anti-Semitism in 2014… this was WAY BEFORE this problem came to the attention of many others. pic.twitter.com/lGB5qhlrjj
— Gary Spedding (@GarySpedding) April 2, 2018
Britain rightly expects the BBC – which is teaching our kids how to identify ‘fake news’ – to have much higher standards of fact-checking. But people have also criticised the broadcaster for falling short in its mission to present “due impartiality in our news” – especially when it comes to Conservative politicians.
While failing to get the facts right in its coverage of Jewdas, the BBC should perhaps have been paying more attention to revelations that suggest foreign secretary Boris Johnson has been twisting the truth himself.
On 3 April, Sky News interviewed the chief executive of Britain’s defence research facility at Porton Down, and he confirmed that the facility had not proven that Russia made the nerve agent responsible for the Salisbury attack in March:
#Salisbury attack: Scientists have not been able to prove that Russia made the nerve agent used in the spy poisoning. Porton Down lab's chief exec reveals the details in this interview pic.twitter.com/qFNgPlr6vS
— Sky News (@SkyNews) April 3, 2018
Boris Johnson, however, had previously said in an interview that Porton Down had confirmed to him that Russia was definitely the source of the nerve agent. When asked how he knew the source was Russia, he said:
People from Porton Down… were absolutely categorical. And I asked the guy myself. I said, ‘are you sure?’ And he said, ‘there’s no doubt’.
For the avoidance of doubt – here is Boris Johnson clearly claiming that Porton Down had confirmed to him the source of the Salisbury nerve agent. Words matter. He lied. pic.twitter.com/oeuZNNxbAZ
— EL4C (@EL4JC) April 3, 2018
And people are not impressed with Boris Johnson apparently deceiving them:
Those saying the Porton Down statement does not prove Russia did not do it really need to do GSCE Law (if that exists). The way guilt works is that you need to prove it first. You don't start with 'Guilty before being proven innocent.'
— Workers of Zion (@WorkersofZion) April 3, 2018
5/ Dear Britain, Boris Johnson is your Foreign Secretary and he just lied to justify our country’s foreign policy. How does that make you feel? pic.twitter.com/TfqYDCtGgT
— Chris Williamson MP #GTTO (@DerbyChrisW) April 3, 2018
Short @BBCNews bulletin after Eastenders mentioned Corbyn attending an event, Spotify and Prince Philip. But not a single word of @BorisJohnson telling a lie designed to stoke up anti-Russian feelings. They told us not to threaten a nuclear power ffs! Come on BBC, get a grip
— Rachael Swindon #GTTO (@Rachael_Swindon) April 3, 2018
Both the BBC and Boris Johnson have serious questions to answer. And Britain should demand answers from them both – because we all deserve so much better.
– Support The Canary, so we can keep exposing the propaganda and hypocrisy of political and media elites.
– Also see our full coverage of the media attacks on Jewdas.
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