Saturday, March 04, 2006

BBC Katrina Video Stealth Edit

Here's how the BBC originally reported the Katrina warning video (via Google's cache - click to enlarge):



Here's the sneaky update, still displaying the same time-stamp. Whoever updated the page did a really half-arsed job of it. The quote from Bush highlighted above has now been removed but it remains as a boxed quote even though it is no longer in the report. Furthermore one of the references to "breach" has not been changed, making a nonsense of the revised story (again, click to enlarge):



Further down, the updated effort has the following passage clumsily slotted in:
Earlier the Associated Press said Mr Bush had been warned of the levees being breached in the video.

But subsequently it issued a clarification which said that the president was warned about water overrunning the levees rather than breaking them.

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun
.

It's no good the BBC trying to muddy the floodwaters with semantics. The Army Corps of Engineers' interpretation is entirely correct - the Concise Oxford Dictionary says "breach - n. a gap. v.tr. - break through; make a gap in". Note also that there’s no admission from the BBC that it blindly repeated the AP spin without checking the facts (which in this case simply meant listening to what was actually said).

The BBC went big on this story on Thursday; it's not so noisy now. I’m grateful to “Anonymous” in the comments here who tells me a brief attempt at clarification was made on the Today programme on Friday morning. I hope it wasn’t as grudging and badly conceived as the online stealth edit. As my anonymous friend says, it’s the sound and fury of Thursday that will stick in the minds of the wider public, not the quiet, sneaky little attempts to deal with the original falsehoods.


(Previously on DFH:
Once more unto the breach
AP admits mistake)

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Army Corps of Engineers considers a breach a hole developing in a levee rather than an overrun.

Yes that really is pathetic for the BBC to suggest that the engineers have some weird usage of words.

Your original title for this MSM outrage "Once more into the breach" is illustrative. Consider the value of Henty's exhortation, should the filling the breach with the English dead relate to the dead piling up on top of the inact wall.

5:53 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

Indeed. “Once more unto the overrun, dear friends, once more” doesn’t quite work, does it?

A couple of lines later -

"In peace there's nothing so becomes a man
As modest stillness and humility"

There’s a lesson the BBC could learn, instead of fobbing the blame onto AP and the language usage of the Army Corps.

6:17 pm  
Blogger Clematis Fraud said...

Actually, DfH, the BBC's insertion of "overcome" in place of "breach" turns what could have been a juicy story of presidential negligence story into a complete non-event.

As you say, what stinks about this re-write is the BBC's blatant piece of buck-passing. It is shabbily dishonest.

Original copy: "The footage does the president no favours, the BBC's Justin Webb reports from Washington.

"It shows plainly worried officials telling Mr Bush very clearly before the storm hit that it could breach New Orleans' flood barriers."

Revised copy: "Earlier the Associated Press said Mr Bush had been warned of the levees being breached in the video.

"But subsequently it issued a clarification which said that the president was warned about water overrunning the levees rather than breaking them."

Huh? Webb saw the fucking footage!

The revised copy should read: "Earlier the BBC's Justin Webb said Mr Bush had been warned of the levees being breached in the video.

"But the president was actually warned about water overrunning the levees, rather than breaking them."

Jesus, they're journalists: the BBC should be nimble enough with words to construct a sentence which admits it got the story wrong without actually saying it outright. A professional hack knows how to issue an apology or correction without apologising for, or correcting, anything.

No, the Beeb cannot even do that: it has to tell us that it was AP that got it wrong.

7:39 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

the BBC should be nimble enough with words to construct a sentence which admits it got the story wrong without actually saying it outright. I don't think that will wash any more, Clematis. Bloggers are going to pick holes in anything other than a frank and honest admission.

We're agreed on the rest - the initial story was dire, the update is even worse.

(On an unrelated note - our makeshift cricket team is doing rather well isn’t it?)

8:19 pm  
Blogger Clematis Fraud said...

Indeed, DfH. It will be a draw, though. Thanks for reminding me about the cricket: I must post details of today's God of the Day on my blog!

BTW, is it good 'netiquette' to link to others' blogs without asking them first?

Or should one be courteous and inform the blogster before doing so?

8:33 pm  
Blogger DFH said...

There's no need to ask - link away.

8:43 pm  

Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home