The BBC admits that John Humphrys got a crucial fact wrong in the antisemitism debate

John Humphrys and Radio 4 Today programme logo
Emily Apple

The BBC has admitted it got a crucial fact wrong in its coverage of Labour’s antisemitism row. But it’s possible you may not have noticed.

On the Today programme on 4 September, John Humphrys introduced a segment about whether Labour’s NEC would adopt the International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance (IHRA) definition and examples in full. As The Canary previously reported, Humphrys stated that the IHRA definition had:

been accepted by almost every country in the world.

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But following a complaint, the BBC conceded it got it wrong. While the 31 countries that are members of the IHRA alliance supported the IHRA using the definition in its work, only nine countries have “adopted and endorsed” the definition.

The complaint

Twitter user @RickBlaine123 made the complaint:

The BBC published the correction on its “Corrections and clarifications” page. But although the page does include “apologies”, it did not apologise for this mistake.

The damage is already done

As one Twitter user pointed out, the damage caused by Humphrys original statement has already been done:

But as the complainant pointed out:

Prominence

Another problem people pointed out was how many people would see the correction:

Although people did have a solution for the BBC:

https://twitter.com/eileenbgibson/status/1043054172751495168

Others went one better:

Changing the narrative

In all probability, Humphrys made an honest mistake. But at a time when Labour’s antisemitism row is hitting the headlines on a daily basis, this is not a mistake he should have made. The BBC and Humphrys should apologise for the mistake. And that apology should be prominent.

Because it’s comments like his that set the narrative. It’s a common misconception that nearly all countries have adopted the IHRA. Humphrys added to that. And while antisemitism needs to be challenged, it needs to be challenged with facts. Mistakes like this only add to the fear that some people are feeling.

Luckily more and more people are noticing the problems with the Today programme. So, it’s no wonder 800,000 listeners are switching off.

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Emily Apple