Tuesday, May 11, 2004

Oh... That Bias

It is quite impressive how the pressure of producing five shows a week hasn't deflected Jeremy Vile Vine and his team from heading headlong towards the sewer. Take today's effussion. The topic was civilian casaulties in Iraq, and who supplied the expert guest to talk about this ? Why, 'Iraq Body Count', of course.

Now, [obvious caveat follows]no one's saying that dyed-in-the-wool activists shouldn't be represented on the Beeb, but they should surely be identified as what they are. A man from Mars listening to today's broadcast would be forgiven for thinking IBC was some kind of semi-official, independant group of experts. Which is the very opposite of the truth: try here and here, and note that these criticisms are not emanating from a crazed Right-Wing Death Beast, but a well-respeted Lefty blogger.

IBC have a whole armoury full of axes to grind. Fronting them as an independant voice on the Iraq war is like asking Mediawatch UK if 'Debbie Does Dallas' should be shown on children's TV. We know what they're going to say.

Needless to say, having grossly misrepresented IBC's true nature, Jegsy was in no mood to pursue the more philosophical objection to the enterprise. IBC purports to collate the civilian casaulties in Iraq, presenting the aggregate death toll as proof that the invasion was a huge failure. Yet, in what sense is the death of a civilian hit by a richochet from a British soldier firing at a sniper morally equivalent to the death of a school child killed by a car bomb ? Both count as 'one' in IBC ledger, each supposedly helping to prove that it's all gone horribly wrong. Of course, this is an improvement on other L3 organisations, who can be relied upon to take a fine tooth comb to every shot fired by Coalition Forces while maintaing a dignified silence over killings by - ahem - militants (and should we ever be faced with a real-life version of SPECTRE, there's no doubt who they'd hire to handle their PR).

This is not a purely theoretical objection. Our enemies have shown themselves to be exceptionally media savvy - so much so as to justify Special Branch surveillance on Alistair Campbell. Check out how 'Bin Laden's' rhectoric has evolved from babbling about crusaders immediatly post-Sep 11 to now sounding more like Al Gore (though more pro-American). The fact remains that IBC seeks to use every civilian death, no matter how caused, as the basis for anti-Coalition propaganda. In other words, should those well-known militants blow up a school bus then the innocent dead will find themselves recuited for proganda aimed at achieving the self-same goals as the militants. To say the least, IBC and it's fellow travellers can hardly be said to be discouraging the murder of civilians.

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