BBC and Terrorism Reporting
The 74 year old British veteran BBC war correspondent, John Simpson was asked in 2015 by Huffington Post what his proudest moment was throughout his career in journalism.
“It would be silly not to mention the fall of the Berlin wall, and the end of apartheid in South Africa, the end of communism in Russia. These were all epoch-making things. But if you ask me what I was most proud of, I’m proudest of having done something that nobody noticed, scarcely got used by the BBC, but which was really difficult to do.
“It’s nothing that anybody except me would have noticed. But there’s a town called Fallujah in Iraq which was attacked by the Americans with weapons of such deep questionability that the incidence of birth defects among children is astronomically high. Even still. And I made it there and I went and saw it and I spent only one morning there because it was so, it was really difficult. I mean, Fallujah now, it’s this death sentence to go there.
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“It was hard. And the rewards weren’t very great and the BBC paid almost no attention to the story and it just got me a shoal of attacks from the US, but that was,” he pauses, seemingly caught up with memories of that small town, 69km west of Baghdad. “I felt that was what I ought to be doing. Not the grand stuff, but just trying to show what was really happening.
“Of all the stuff I’ve ever done, I am proudest of that.”
Simpson’s recounting of his long distinguished career and proudest moment encapsulates almost entirely the questionable approach the BBC has adopted with regards to its coverage of war and terrorism.
The BBC Editorial Guidelines on Terrorism state that:
“We must report acts of terror quickly, accurately, fully and responsibly. Our credibility is undermined by the careless use of words which carry emotional or value judgements. The word “terrorist” itself can be a barrier rather than an aid to understanding. We should try to avoid the term, without attribution. We should let other people characterise while we report the facts as we know them.
We should not adopt other people’s language as our own. It is also usually inappropriate to use words like “liberate”, “court martial” or “execute” in the absence of a clear judicial process. We should convey to our audience the full consequences of the act by describing what happened. We should use words which specifically describe the perpetrator such as “bomber”, “attacker”, “gunman”, “kidnapper”, “insurgent, and “militant”. Our responsibility is to remain objective and report in ways that enable our audiences to make their own assessments about who is doing what to whom.”
In 2004, the BBC aired Adam Curtis’ The Power of Nightmares. This stopped short of questioning the official narrative about who committed 9/11, but did question the enemy image of the “Muslim terrorist”. Curtis noted how particularly post 9/11, politicians have appealed to people’s fear; rather than offering voters a better world if they gave their support, politicians threatened them with a worse one if they did not. Curtis also examined the role of Western intelligence agencies in creating Wahabism, a topic which is appears to be off limits to modern BBC producers. Recent BBC output is dominated by hit pieces designed to bolster the sagging official narrative on “terrorism”, for example the Conspiracy Files series.
The graph on the right shows the percentage of items on “terrorism” returned during quarterly periods between 2000 and 2006 on the BBC compared with ITN and Channel 4. The graph apparently shows an increase following attacks in New York, Madrid and London, and the Israeli-Lebanon war. It also shows a marked increase in BBC items on “terrorism” at the end of 2002 and beginning of 2003 which is not apparent in ITN and Channel 4 coverage.
Use of external experts
This table below shows the top 15 (of 20) “terrorism experts” who made the most appearances on BBC television between January 2000 and December 2007. 435 names from a list of terrorism experts were searched at the archives of the BBC Motion Gallery for appearances on BBC News and BBC Current Affairs programmes. Only appearances relating to terrorism were recorded.  The table is arranged according to the total number of items returned, and then alphabetically according to surname.
The table also shows the known affiliations of each expert as indicated by a mark in the columns labelled A-F. It shows that of the 20 top experts consulted by BBC television, 13 have worked in government or law enforcement, and six of the seven who have not, are affiliated to private think-tanks or private security companies.
Remuneration of terrorism experts
Asked about the BBC’s relationship with experts and commentators on “terrorism”, security, and intelligence matters, BBC News Head of Editorial Compliance sent the following reply as a result of a Freedom of Information request:
BBC News does not retain any experts and commentators on terrorism, security and intelligence matters on contract. We do sometimes pay a disturbance fee to contributors who make their living from selling their expertise (such as journalists, academics and members of think tanks) but many commentators do not ask for or expect any fee. Where payments are made, radio programmes, like “Today”, have a flat rate of £50. There is occasionally scope to exercise discretion, but it would be on a case by case basis. In daily Television News we have a basic disturbance fee of £50. This can be negotiable in certain circumstances, usually to an upper limit of £75. However, if we ask an interviewee to stay on set for longer periods (e.g. as a “presenter’s friend”) we will pay more, up to £350 for a five hour period, for example.
Tony Blair, Iraq – David Cameron, Libya
Following events leading to the Iraq war, the BBC said that its coverage had been ‘committed solely to relaying the events fully, accurately and impartially’. When one looks back, that statement is as hollow as you could imagine. Tony Blair’s misinformation, disinformation, propaganda and fake news campaign to attack Iraq has been a huge blot on Britain’s foreign policy choices. But it was supported by a mainstream media, the BBC included, who did not question the legitimacy of the counterfeit information fed to parliament and its people. The result is over one million dead innocent civilians and a region under siege by terrorists, thugs and gangsters.
David Cameron’s lies did the same in Libya and Syria (See: BBC Caught Staging FAKE News Chemical Attack To Drag Britain into Syrian War) – again supported by a media that questioned nothing. The result – death and destruction leading to the destabilisation of the world order and terrorist incidents back at home multiplying at a rate not seen since the IRA attacked the British mainland.
- BBC Editorial Guidelines, Editorial Guidelines in Full – War, Terror & Emergencies,BBC Editorial Guidelines, Editorial Guidelines in Full – War, Terror & Emergencies,
- See a lot of this website for information on False flags
- Any items referring to “terror“, “Islamic fundamentalism“, “extremism” or “suicide bombing” were treated as relating to terrorism.
- Response to Freedom of Information Request from Stephanie Harris, Head of Editorial Compliance at BBC News, 5 September 2008