The BBC ran to protect the Met over the Sarah Everard vigil

An image from the Sarah Everard Clapham Common vigil and the BBC News logo
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The BBC faced backlash over its reporting on the violent police response to the Clapham Common vigil for Sarah Everard. And on the same day, it also put out some appalling coverage of an attempted assault on a child. Now, its coverage of the Andrew Marr Show has just compounded the issue.

Say her name

Serving Metropolitan Police constable Wayne Couzens, 48, is charged with kidnapping and killing Sarah Everard. The 33-year-old marketing executive went missing while walking home from a friend’s flat in south London on 3 March. Her body was found on 10 March.

In response, the group Reclaim These Streets organised a vigil. It was due to take place on Saturday 13 March. After a court hearing and objections from the Met police, however, the group cancelled the official vigil. But crowds of people still turned up to remember Everard at Clapham Common. The vigil was livestreamed. And this meant tens of thousands of people witnessed the police violence against unarmed, peaceful women.

The media has widely reported this. But a BBC headline put the emphasis on the women being at fault.

Enter the BBC

As SKWAWKBOX reported, the BBC put out this headline just after 9pm on 13 March:

BBC confrontation headline

People were angry:

Read on...

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The initial headline clearly framed the women as the antagonists. And the BBC had already done something similar on 13 March, in another story about violence against women and girls.

Framing is everything

As it reported:

Police are trying to find a man who attacked a teenage girl as she walked along a path in Derby.

But the BBC headline on Twitter was:

Here, the headline frames the girl as the aggressor. Writer Erica Buist broke it down:

To make matters worse, the BBC managed to compound the issue even further.

Jess Phillips on Marr

Labour’s shadow minister for domestic violence and safeguarding Jess Phillips was on Marr. The host asked her at one point if she thought Met chief Cressida Dick should resign. Phillips said:

I came here this morning to talk about violence against women and girls; about the names of all of those women, as well as Sarah Everard. And I’m ending up talking about Cressida Dick.

But as people pointed out, the BBC chose to frame the issue around Dick and the Met:

And again, the BBC played down police violence:

Entrenched misogyny?

It’s difficult to offer an explanation for the BBC‘s coverage of events this weekend. Repeatedly framing women as antagonists or aggressors cannot be a mistake. Playing down police and male violence can’t be, either. Many journalists, including at The Canary, are trained to write in the so-called “active voice”. As Grammarly says:

Active voice means that a sentence has a subject that acts upon its verb. Passive voice means that a subject is a recipient of a verb’s action.

The “subject” in the BBC‘s coverage should have been the police at Clapham Common, and the male attacker in Derby. But they weren’t. So, it’s hard not to conclude that journalists at the BBC are intentionally doing this; firstly in the case of the vigil, and secondly over the teenage girl.

Framing news coverage not only to protect the police but also to make women the aggressors is appalling. It only furthers the notion that the BBC is in no way a ‘public service’ broadcaster. It also points to entrenched misogyny in its output. And ultimately, it shows the BBC‘s MO of protecting the state, whatever the cost.

Featured image via Subject Access – YouTube and pixy

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  • Show Comments
    1. As any of us who enjoyed the 90s raves will know quite well, the corporate media will ALWAYS portray the regular citizens as the troublemakers.

      “Teenage girl headbutts man after being grabbed on path”

      TBF to the beeb, that put a smile on my face, and probably many others, and likely that might have been the intent. SHE was ACTIVE – not the passive victim of events, but headbutted the f’cker. If she hadn’t, we might well have been attending another vigil. :'(

      Having said that, i haven’t read the article to see if it justifies that interpretation.

      1. Most of the raves I went to were in barns or fields on private land. They were reckless, last minute, disorganised and totally liberating events that were always two steps ahead of media dicks hungry for a scoop and killjoy white collar conservative types trying to shut it all down to keep the artificial smiles on their meddling voters faces. There was never any fuzz to be seen either and the sun was always shining. That’s how I remember it anyway 😉 Good times. The girls knew how to handle themselves too, not that there was any need to back then.

        But we’re at a point now where a young womans death has been exploited by the same monsters who have infested the so-called state broadcaster with lowlife placemen who are happy to let perverts and worse know that its open season on women who won’t know what the hell is going on in this shithole of a country they call home.

        Things are getting worse and the tories approval ratings are going up. What is happening…..

    2. The BBC has always colluded with the pigs, protecting their good (actually, to anyone with half a brain cell, it’s shitty!) name, and spewing bile and lies about them. They can fuck right off, the both of them. Pay a license fee for this kind of bollocks? Yeh, right! Anybody that’s been on the receiving end of these vile, uniformed thugs on a demo will corroborate the fact that the news stunk of misleading lies about the vigil, and is only the latest in a long line of such examples of blag reporting. Fucking establishment: fuck them all!

    3. I too was delighted to read the girl had headbutted the man, it didn’t make me think her the aggressor or him the victim. My reaction was “Good for her, a shame she didn’t manage to kick him in the balls”. The tendency to make an issue of relatively unimportant matters unfortunately obfuscates the real problem, in this case violence against women, and this happens far too often.

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