Two reports from Bint Jbeil from yesterday's news, one from Orla Guerin on the BBC (watch the full report here**
) and the other from Alex Thomson on Channel 4 News (click here to view. Window Media Player only. 2 mins in.
) (Added emphasis mine in all spoken extracts)
First this sequence from Orla Guerin on the BBC (approx 2:30 in).
"We've been walking for a few minutes now. The damage here is absolutely incredible."
Camera pans round to Guerin.
"I haven’t seen a single building that isn't damaged in some way. Many have been flattened, many have been singed. This town has really been wiped out."
And now Alex Thomson on Channel 4 News.
"As you can see, the centre of the town destroyed on a really wholesale scale, more so than since the last civilians left here, though it has to be said that on the outskirts, the suburbs - pretty much untouched by the Israeli attack and invasion."
Cut to a shot across the valley which then pans to the street they're on.
"Across the valley, the outer areas of town virtually intact. The central streets, though, in a pitiful state."
Note the building at end of the street to which we've just panned because we're heading there in a minute.
There are then a couple of cut-away segments, one of Red Cross workers collecting a dead body and one of Thomson looking at a child's schoolbook. We then rejoin him at the end of the above street, turning left up the hill. (Note - this is beyond the car to the left of the red arrow above.)
Look familiar? (Click to enlarge):
And just to prove it's the same spot:
'A' is from the long shot of the street in Thomson's film (the one with the red arrow in the image above), 'B' shows Thomson rounding the corner, and 'C' is from the Guerin footage.
Same van, same building. We are at the same place where Guerin said: "We've been walking for a few minutes now. The damage here is absolutely incredible. I haven’t seen a single building that isn't damaged in some way. Many have been flattened, many have been singed. This town has really been wiped out.
But thanks to Alex Thomson's report we now know that Guerin has just walked up the same street as him, the one with the view across the valley to "the outer areas of town virtually intact
". At the same time Guerin was saying "This town has really been wiped out
", she could look over her cameraman's shoulder and see this:
Guerin is clearly talking rubbish. She wants the viewers to think that the entire town has been destroyed because that fits far better with her anti-Israeli message. She continues:
"The more we walked the worse it got. 7,000 people used to live here. The international community may well ask how Israel can explain all this in the name of fighting Hezbollah."
Let's just hope the international community doesn't rely on Guerin's wilfully misleading reports for evidence.
At times the piece sounds like a political broadcast on behalf of Hezbollah. Here are some more snippets:
Here in the south of Lebanon no-one doubts that Hezbollah won this war... (they) told me that they’d had to live as refugees for a month but Hezbollah had made them proud... In a month of fighting, Israel couldn’t beat Hezbollah - probably not how its ally the United States expected things to turn out. For George Bush this is a bad chapter in the war on terror... To many here and in the Arab world Hezbollah are covered in glory...”
When her team find one of Hezbollah's anti-tank guns mounted on a jeep, she offers no insight into its origins. Was it Iranian? The question doesn't occur to her. She's only interested in the weapon for its symbolic value:
"It’s with weapons like this that Hezbollah did battle against one of the most powerful armies in the world."Iain Dale
thinks the BBC should sack Guerin just on the basis of the lack of objectivity shown in this report. I'm inclined to agree, but this goes beyond mere bias - that's par for the course for the BBC. Here Guerin has knowingly given a false impression of the destruction of Bent Jbeil for the purpose of further demonising Israel in the eyes of the "international community".
Yes she should be fired. The BBC will probably promote her.Update 9pm.
From a David Rowan
interview with Orla Guerin in the Evening Standard, December 10, 2003:
"I would only be concerned if it was established that I made a mistake about a matter of fact," she says. "People's subjective perceptions of me I pay no attention to. They will hear what they want to hear. What people are saying is not, 'We want you to be fair and impartial', but, 'We want you to be on our side'. And we're not on anybody's side."
No, fair and impartial will do just fine. This report is neither.
From the same interview:
Even before she has sipped her caffe latte, Guerin has questioned Israel's claim to be a democracy, compared its press freedom with Zimbabwe's, and accused its officials of paranoia.
Oh, and just for the record, she's married to Michael Georgy:"And he's not Palestinian."
However, he does work for (ahem) Reuters.
(Also, her name is an anagram of "a ruin ogler". This is not in the Standard interview, though.)
**Further update 10.15pm
. The Guerin report is now available at You Tube
thanks to Grimer, who is building a great library of BBC stuff (and check out the tags for Guerin).Update August 16, 11am
: "the Orla Guerin piece has caused a stir in editorial meetings". Link
.Update August 22
. More updates