Sunday, May 28, 2006

BBC Report on Army Desertions

All week the BBC has been plugging heavily its Five Live Report on increased British Army desertions due to the Iraq war. There have been endless trailers for the investigation by BBC defence correspondent Jonathan Charles, and today BBC news carried related headlines about the dramatic rise in desertion levels in the past three years.

Well, Marc at USS Neverdock has found evidence to the contrary - on the BBC’s own website.

I’ve taken the relevant screencaps just in case some stealth editing occurs:

28 May 2006:

4 June 2000:

Given the clear anti-war agenda of today's report, I find it apt that it's an All Out production.

Update 11.25pm. Good job I took that screencap. Here's the latest version of today's story (click to enlarge):

We can see that Jonathan Charles doesn’t seem so keen on claiming the scoop any more - both his picture and name have now vanished from the article. Natalie at Biased BBC notes that the tone of language is less sensational, too; we've gone from soldiers "on the run" who have "evaded capture" to the more matter-of-fact "absent without leave".

This paragraph has been added (my emphasis):
Figures for those still missing are 86 from 2001, 118 from 2002, 134 from 2003, 229 from 2004, 377 from 2005, and 189 for this year so far.
The BBC is still desperately trying to give the impression of increasing numbers of missing servicemen, but it’s fairly obvious that over time more of them will turn up or be tracked down. More soldiers are still missing from 2005 than 2001 because less time has passed, not because more of them are going AWOL. These figures are therefore meaningless for year by year comparison.

We need to get through a few more paragraphs to discover the relevant information, also added to the original article:
According to MoD figures 2,670 soldiers went "absent without leave" in 2001, with the figure rising to 2,970 in 2002 and falling in 2003 to 2,825. In 2004 it rose to 3,050, falling back again in 2005 to 2,725.
Which is, as the MOD says, “fairly constant”. And that pisses all over the BBC's little fire, doesn't it? No wonder Jonathan Charles is too ashamed to show his face.

Good work Marc.


Blogger fido said...

The shock of it, our state broadcaster give us half truths and leftie new age spin?

Anyone would think they had some agenda that was biased against the war?

Good bit exposing that, lets hope more people take on this story,

10:23 pm  
Blogger jonz said...

Genius! I had no thought as to investigate this claim. Just goes to show...

11:19 pm  
Blogger jonz said...

That has really wound me up. I too will rant on this tommorow. Thanks for the tip dfh ;)

11:27 pm  
Blogger Marc said...

Thanks for the screenshots. I was going to do that in case they stealth edited the "story". I got distracted by the kids and forgot. Good thing you were on the job.

I didn't expect them to edit it so heavily.

Even the reporter had is picture and name removed!

How many people though, will no of the BBC's attack on our troops?

You think they read my post? :)

7:49 am  
Anonymous Umbongo said...

It seems the Telegraph is now, disappointingly, taking the Beeb's lead in its interpretation of the "desertion" story

10:38 am  
Blogger DFH said...

I too will rant on this Have at 'em, Jonz.

You think they read my post? No doubt about it, Marc.

Umbongo, that Telegraph article is indeed very disappointing - it just regurgitates the BBC article. Piss-poor bank holiday reporting.

11:10 am  
Blogger DFH said...

fido - The shock of it, our state broadcaster give us half truths and leftie new age spin? I know, staggering isn't it?

11:14 am  
Blogger Richard Landes said...

i was listening to this report on my car radio yesterday and thought "how shabby." their effort to link it to mistreatment of iraqi civilians was particularly weak... one might even say, transparent. i had n idea it was as bad as this.

5:16 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely brilliant, brilliant work, both "Drinking From Home" and "USS Neverdock".

I trust that you're both not so stupid that you're not logging all these incidents down for next Christmas's bestseller "The Bumper Book of BBC Bias" of 2006, (rrp £15.99).

1:18 am  
Blogger Geepers said...

Well done.

Fact-checking seems to be out of vogue at "news" agencies these days. Which is odd since anyone with an internet connection can do it. And nail those that don't.

What's the BBC's budget again?

12:51 am  
Blogger AntiCitizenOne said...

> What's the BBC's budget again?

360,000 taken to court a year.

10:48 am  
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