Top BBC reporter guilty of misrepresenting Iraq Inquiry evidence

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    30th July 2010

    BIAS AT THE BEEB

    The BBC has been forced, reluctantly, to admit that their ace commentator, Laura Kuenssberg, got it wrong!

    After a wait of several months, the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit has finally responded to one of this blog’s regular commenters.

    He had complained about the distorted reporting of Ms Kuenssberg when she covered Tony Blair’s appearance at the Iraq Inquiry on 29th January, 2010. [You may recall this broadcasting journalist being in trouble on the same occasion over having her Twitter link with her anti-Blair instant comments on the screen behind her as she spoke to the camera.]

    His complaint concerned Kuenssberg’s reference to evidence given to the inquiry (by Sir Christopher Meyer) “that during their Crawford meeting, Blair and Bush had signed ‘a deal in blood’ that the UK would go to war alongside America if that was their decision.” (see full extract below). He pointed out that Ms Kuenssberg’s remarks were inaccurate in that Sir Christopher had actually said he was not there so he did not know whether a deal had been done ‘in blood’. He also complained that the report was biased since it chimed with the false version of Sir Christopher’s testimony put out by the anti-war lobby and was presented against the constant background of the anti-Blair demo on that day, with placards like “BLiar”, “Blair – War Criminal” being thrust in front of the cameras.

    Read the BBC’s finding first (pasted below), and then see what the complainant has to say. The BBC’s response is now online. See Response from BBC Complaints Unit

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    ECU Ruling: News (10.00am), BBC News channel, 29 January 2010

    Publication date: 19 July 2010

    Complaint

    In an item on the proceedings of the Chilcot Inquiry, the reporter referred to the evidence given by Sir Christopher Meyer the previous November about a meeting between Tony Blair and George W Bush in the Spring of 2002, and reporting him as having said that, during the meeting, Mr Blair had “signed a deal in blood…that the UK would go to war alongside America if that was their decision”. A viewer complained that this was a misleading account of Sir Christopher’s evidence which, together with the use of footage of demonstrators outside the Inquiry venue, resulted in bias against Mr Blair.

    Outcome

    Sir Christopher, while making clear that he believed the meeting had led to agreement on the need for regime change, had also made clear that options other than military action were still under consideration, and it was inaccurate to report him as having suggested that an absolute commitment to go to war alongside the US had been made. However, as the item also reported Mr Blair’s dismissal of Sir Christopher’s evidence in relation to the meeting, the inaccurate reporting of that evidence did not result in imbalance. The footage of demonstrators simply illustrated what was happening outside the Inquiry venue at the time, and had no bearing on the issue of impartiality. Partly upheld

    Further action

    All involved in the broadcast have discussed the story and the issues it raised. Senior editors on the News channel will continue to emphasise the need for editorial vigilance in terms of ensuring that space and time is made for proper and sufficient context to be given when reporting specific and detailed quotations from witnesses in long-running inquiries.

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    Here are Ms Kuenssberg’s full remarks taken from the transcript, as sent to the complainant by the BBC:

    “Well that interesting mention, as you said there, of Crawford, let’s just remember for people, that meeting that Tony Blair had with President Bush in the Spring of 2002. Now at this inquiry, one witness, the former UK Ambassador to the States said, at that meeting Tony Blair signed a deal in blood with President Bush that the UK would go to war alongside America if that was their decision. Now Tony Blair has dismissed that today, he dismissed Christopher Meyer really, saying well look, he wasn’t there at that meeting and I think you could tell from his body language really what he thought of the attempt by Sir Christopher Meyer to put that point when he was here at the inquiry.”

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    THE COMPLAINANT’S THOUGHTS ON THIS RULING

    “Although the BBC Complaints Unit have reluctantly conceded that Ms Kuenssberg’s remarks were inaccurate they have denied there was any bias despite all the facts pointing that way.

    The BBC News Editors initially defended Kuenssberg’s report on the ludicrous grounds that it was her role to make clear to the audience what Sir Christopher was really saying and that this was how it had been reported by everyone else. This in itself reveals the BBC’s biased mindset on the Iraq issue (no doubt linked to the ramifications of the Hutton inquiry which resulted in several BBC resignations).

    The Editorial Complaints Unit did not refer to this absurd defence in its ruling but denied that Ms Kuenssberg’s report was biased since she had also referred to Tony Blair’s dismissal of Sir Christopher’s evidence.

    This new argument for there being no bias took no account of my point about the reference to Blair’s attitude to Sir Christopher’s evidence being made against the backdrop of “BLiar” placards which subliminally must have influenced the BBC’s audience against what Blair had said. Nor did the BBC Complaints Unit take account of my point about how this biased backdrop could have been easily avoided by turning the cameras round and presenting Ms Kuenssberg’s remarks against the backdrop of the Conference Centre instead, as had been done in other reports.

    I therefore remain dissatisfied with the ECU’s findings on bias and will be appealing to the BBC Trust on the matter. I do not expect much joy from them however since they have already refused to formally consider another of my appeals about the BBC’s coverage of the inquiry. There is clearly something very fishy and disturbing about how the BBC and their supposed watchdog, the BBC Trust, are treating these Iraq inquiry complaints I now have a number of them going through the complaints process covering different days of the inquiry and an obvious pattern of bias is emerging both in the reporting and in the way the complaints are being treated which accords with what was said about media coverage of the Iraq inquiry in the Ban Blair Baiting petition and in the New Statesman blog post here. This is a national scandal and I will be saying more about these other cases once the complaints process has been completed.”

    At his blog John Rentoul has also mentioned this “late & grudging apology” by the BBC

    _______________

    MY OWN COMMENT ON THE RULING

    I was in attendance on the day Mr Blair appeared at the Iraq Inquiry (see my report here and another one here including my own pictures.)

    He answered questions for more than SIX hours. From the man himself, the man who made the decisions, there was plenty of material to fill any unbiased ten minute reporting slot.

    Updated: The complaint regarding Ms Kuenssberg, who is supposed to be an impartial commentator, was a complaint concerning her 10:00am report on 29th January. By that time Mr Blair had been providing his evidence to the Inquiry for half an hour. There may just have been SOMETHING noteworthy he had already said in his OWN evidence. A little something positive on his own behalf? If there was, Ms Kuenssberg chose to ignore it. Instead she resorted to reminding viewers of an earlier witness’s evidence. NOT a witness who necessarily agreed with Mr Blair wholeheartedly. NOT a witness who understood that the Prime Minister was in the end the man in the hot seat. Oh no. She felt compelled to resort to the anti-war/anti-Blair lobby’s twisted version of Sir Christopher’s “signed a deal in blood” phrase.

    I note that as far as I understand it Sir Christopher did NOT contact the BBC to complain about the distorted use of his words. However in their investigation, the BBC Compaints Unit seems to have consulted him as to the meaning of his original words. Perhaps his failure to make his own complaint about Kuenssberg’s twisting of the colourful phrase tells us something about HIS political sympathies. [Aside: yesterday his voice was heard on the BBC News Channel defending and even praising David Cameron’s foreign policy pronouncements in India on Pakistan, and in Turkey against Israel. So clearly we understand his political sympathies.]

    Why did Ms Kuenssberg not remind people of those who agreed with Mr Blair’s decision? Why start off the day by putting the anti-view so firmly to the audience? Bias. Pure and simple.

    Such distorted and brainwashing reporting of another’s words is disgraceful. Not only was it NOT what Meyer said, it is exactly the opposite. There should have been much more than just a cosy BBC discussion about it. Laura Kuenssberg should have been severely reprimanded .

    The BBC Complaints Unit

    Back to top
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    Sign the Ban Blair-Baiting petition here

    A recent comment from an Albanian, Mr Leonard Dedej from Tirana – “It takes big leaders to make the hardest turns in peoples life…mr Blair is a big leader and a great man for millions of people in Balkans!!!for stopping a savage war!about Iraq I believe that the press wherever it is has not the right to judge on this issue because it simply is to small to judge!!history will judge mr Blair!as long as it is an ongoing war no one can blame mr Blair,after all he started something for a big reason..the press its often wrong because it fights for audience!!!”




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    18 Responses to “Top BBC reporter guilty of misrepresenting Iraq Inquiry evidence”

    1. Top BBC reporter guilty of misrepresenting Iraq Inquiry evidence « Says:

      […] misrepresenting Iraq Inquiry evidence Jump to Comments This is a cross-post. Thanks a lot to BlairSupporter and to Stan Rosenthal for informing me about his complaint via email. Keep up the good work, […]

    2. keeptonyblairforpm Says:

      Comment from Nicky (This comment was sent to an earlier version of this post, which I replaced with this one.)

      _____

      Very glad that the BBC have had to admit that Kuenssberg’s reporting was biased. Well done to the complainant for pursuing this on behalf of the rest of us who are heartily sick of the way Blair is demonised. The BBC have done their reputation for impartiality and honest reporting a lot of damage over their stance on Iraq and TB.

      Ms Kuenssberg was on the news tonight with a cream-puff piece about Cameron. What a surprise … not.

      _____

    3. little ole American Says:

      Tell it like it is Blairsupporter! If Kuenssberg had taken five minutes to read Page 336 of the 9/11 Commission Report, she would have been informed. Apparently Sir Christopher Meyers hadn’t read it either.
      From the Commission: “On September 20th President Bush met with British PM Tony Blair to discuss the global conflict ahead. When Blair asked about Iraq, the President replied that it was not the immediate problem. Some members of his administration, he commented, had expressed a different view, but he was the one responsible for making the decision.” (Doesn’t sound like a whole lot of blood-letting, does it?)
      Now, you might ask WHO was trying to persuade President Bush to go into Iraq? It was General Franks and CENTCOM, who had been dusting off plans for an attack against Iraq the summer BEFORE 9/11. President Bush denied the request.
      The Commission goes on to say: “The CENTCOM Commander told us he renewed his appeal for further military planning to respond to Iraqi “moves” shortly after 9/11, both because he personally felt that Iraq and Al Qaeda might be engaged in some sort of collusion and he worried that Saddam might take advantage of the attacks to move against his internal enemies in the Northern or Southern parts of Iraq, where the United States was flying regular missions to enforce Iraqi no-fly zones. Franks said that President Bush again, turned down the request.” (Sounds like Bush and Blair were gung-ho to go into Iraq, ha?) NOT!
      Now, we can all decide whether we are going to believe our Generals, our Intelligence agencies, our Congress and Parliament, our President and PM (at the time), OR we can decide to believe people (like Meyers) who was not there or people like Kuenssberg, whose only talent is knowing how to twitter.
      Blairsupporter, you have pointed out time after time, how Blair was being extremely cautious, listening to his INTEL, trying to gather all the facts, before he would agree to go into Iraq. Now, you know that President Bush was doing the same thing; they were both RESISTING the invasion of Iraq. It took a LOT of convincing before President Bush finally decided to take action. Perhaps, if there was anything to be learned from all this, it might be that we should have attacked Iraq before the attacks of 9/11. Perhaps, if we had, it might have given Bin Laden a reason to “rethink” his planned attacks. Maybe, we should have hit FIRST. Think about it; when we go into war, we first make certain our homeland is secure (we would have been on heightened alert). That is just a conjecture on my part, and apparently it was General Frank’s as well. We’ll never know.
      I just have to mention Hans Blix at this point. He can say anything he wants now, because he has a chip on his shoulder (he’s still smarting form his first failure to find WMD’s in the 80’s and the Israelis had to clean up his failure in Operation Opera). He knows the FACTS have already exonerated both the PM and President Bush. He KNOWS how the Inquiries are going to turn out. The only thing Blix is doing, is getting his name in the papers (“HE WHO MUST BE PROVEN CORRECT”!). The BBC and left wingers are wasting time and money (laughing all the way to their banked political agendas). Look at how our elections have turned out; both of us, political disasters, driven by the liars, like Kuenssberg, the ravenous egos of men like Blix, and an unending condemnation of two men, who deserve our respect and honor.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        WOW! That’s some comment, little ole.

        I DO remember wondering why America hadn’t hit out IMMEDIATELY after 9/11. I had expected that and I was quite impressed that they took six months.

        I quoted Shakespeare at a very early post here, when Blair was being pushed out of office..It’s still the case, and always will be no matter how “open” (via the WORLDWIDE internet) we think our governments should be:

        HAMLET: “There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy. There is more than is dreamt of in your society.”

        No-one can do it better than Shakespeare, but if I was asked to augment this I might suggest – “and in theirs.”

    4. Peter Reynolds Says:

      I’m afraid I’m left with a sort of “so what” feeling about this. So li’l Laura went a little bit over the top, got carried away a bit. Tut, tut, slap wrist (careful, she’s only a baby).

      I agree, the “signed a deal in blood” comment was intemperate to say the least but li’l Laura hasn’t been getting much sleep lately. She’s been very, very busy.

      OK. I say well done for holding the Beeb to account

      Sorry (cringe) but the comments are more interesting. I mean the very idea that Bush was “resisting” the invasion of Iraq? Come on, let’s keep things within the bounds of what’s credible! Coked-up, drunk, both or even sober, Bush was desperate to press the button and start playing “Shock ‘n Awe” on his Playstation.

      On a wider subject the BBC complaints system is shockingly bad. It stands out as being so poor just because of how darn good almost everything else on the BEEB is.

      The complaints website is abominable.It’s entirely unhelpful to the complainant. No acknowledgement is issued in response to a complaint. There is no facility to retain a copy of the complaint or, indeed, to direct a complaint to an email address and therefore keep a copy.

      In my own experience complaints are NEVER responded to within the 10 working days they promise. When they do respond sometime all it is is an acknowledgement, repeating back to you the points you made in the first place.

      The BBC pays only lip service to complaints and that’s a mistake. It’s failure in this area endangers it future. It needs to get this in order before it brings severe consequences on itself.

      As a young salesman I was always taught that I should be grateful for objections because they would allow me to adjust my pitch to suit my prospect’s needs. There’s a lesson for the BBC there.

      A real complaint about the BBC has to be made to the BBC Trust.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Hi Pete!

        I’ll shorten it soon in the good ol’ Cardiff way. That reminds me – let me tell you a little story.

        Once upon a time we had two Cardiff builders doing a big extension job for us – Terry and Andy. Being a Scot I assumed those WERE the shortened versions of their names. Silly me.

        “Arright, Ter,” said Ter to his mate one morning. “Arright, And” said And.

        I fell about laughing so much that I failed to notice they had put the roof on the extension – (which was HUGE – about 130 feet in length) – about 18 inches TOO LOW.

        Oh, FGS, And and Ter. Here’s your cards … Know any decent builders?

        So, where was I? Oh yes, hi Pe.

        Didn’t respond to this before cos I believe it is in the post. The Trust are already being pursued by the complainant.

    5. Peter Reynolds Says:

      And this is my next complaint to the BBC:

      http://peterreynolds.wordpress.com/2010/08/01/the-centre-for-social-cohesion-a-zionist-deception/

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Come on Peter, my ol’ mate, my ol’ chum. Include the link for the interested. Education, education, education – remember?

        It’s all here at the Beeb.

        I missed it, so I have it playing now as I write. But I have to tell you – surprise! surprise! that I am FAR more likely to agree with Murray than with you.

        By the way, what have YOU done today for greater social cohesion?

        Just asking.

        Love and kisses,

        Alastair

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Thanks for this, P.

        You’ve inspired me. I will try, honestly, I will TRY not to describe you in the same tones as I will Mr Cameron and Major’s old flame Edwina in the post I have in draft to follow up this nonsense.

    6. Peter Reynolds Says:

      Alas, I thought you were Gordon!

      Anyway John, while Pauline’s in the kitchen and you’re glued to Susanna’s gorgeous legs, I do hope you enjoy the programme. Wasn’t Edwina great? Although her old mates in Golders Green might not be too happy.

      My contribution to social cohesion today:

      1. I said good morning to several people while I walked my dogs along the cliffs.

      2. I did my best to destroy the reputation of The Centre For Social Cohesion and Douglas Murray

      3. I spoke to my Mum and both my sons.

      …plus sundry other little transactions amidst the minutiae of life on a busy Sunday in Weymouth…overrun with grockles and chavs… shoot them all I say.

      Et toi?

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Make up your mind, P – am I Gordon or John? You’ve evidently decided I can’t be Alastair because we can’t believe a thing I say … I mean, he says.

        Curry should be curried. Though I don’t know about you but I wouldn’t even fancy her in a Vindaloo in Mumbai, which has just about the worst curries in the world, btw.

        She talked rot. Typical of the misinformed. Douglas Murray was absolutely spot-on. Look I’m trying to write the next post right now. So, please, P, don’t tie me up here responding to your comments all night. Things to do, worlds to sort an’ all that. I’ll end up having to post the whole blasted post in here, just so we can keep meeting like this. (Btw, don’t tell the other P. He gets a little possessive at times.)

        I had a similar day to you, funnily enough. The new mobile’s great – and arrived quickly, after I dropped the other one in the sea in hot pursuit of a two-year-old over the rocks. “Done it” he yelled, on safe arrival on each boulder, head still intact. Tested the text side to see if I have a new relative due a week ago, in Scotland. Not yet.

        I did throw in a little gardening to make life easier for some family members when they get back from their holiday.

        But the grockles and chavs keep this place turning over. So I won’t shoot them. I’ll save the bullets for the really deserving, P.

        Eh? What?

        Lovely day though, isn’t it?

    7. little ole American Says:

      Peter, Peter, Peter……..so, you sum up “your judgement” of President Bush and PM Blair, by completing disregarding (uh oh, watch out, here comes that word) the FACTS? I am curious, do you do that because you think the 9/11 Commission Report was done by we Amuurrricans? Are we “second-rate” to the British form of Inquiry or report? Well, Pardon ME.
      So, what you are doing is calling the 10 Commission Members and the over 100 Counselors, researchers and staff members (not to mention all the Generals, presidential staff, and National Defense staff that were questioned), liars? You are telling me you KNOW better? You are telling me you know better, because you read it in Dah Press??? People like Kuenssberg need to be held to account. The BBC needs to be held to account, along with these so-called journalists. I long for the days when journalists used to report the “news”. Today I have little respect for most of them.

      • keeptonyblairforpm Says:

        Ahh, but little ole, P knows, you know. He’s a CONSERVATIVE. He’s supposed to be on YOUR side.

        See the problems we have here in good ol’ Engerland? The right is now the left and vice versa. Natch. It’s the ConDem way.

    8. little ole American Says:

      Blairsupporter,
      Thank you for the “WOW”. I am as passionate about the TRUTH as you are.

    9. BBC’s sneering Paxman carpeted as “partial” by Helen Boaden, via Stan Rosenthal « The Feral Press Says:

      […] this mission. You may recall he had already pursued another “senior” BBC broadcaster, Laura Kuennsberg, with some success. Then a month or so ago, in a move which did not surprise me or him, he was […]

    10. BBC Scotland – Labour Party Mouthpiece in Scotland – Politically Corrupt & Biased – Public Inquiry Badly Needed | caltonjock Says:

      […] https://keeptonyblairforpm.wordpress.com/2010/07/29/top-bbc-reporter-guilty-of-misrepresenting-iraq-i… […]

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