Saturday, December 09, 2006

Inaccuracies and omissions

(*) Channel4 News, reporting John Reid's statement to Parliament on Monday about the poisoning of Alexander Litvinenko, said that he had "finally" informed us that the British government had called in the Russian ambassador the previous Friday (24 Nov). Actually, the FT (on its front page) Saturday had this: "The Foreign Office said it called in Yuri Fedotov, the Russian ambassador ..."

C4 News again: on Thursday (30 Nov) referred to "US-backed government" in Lebanon. Later, the BBC (World Service) news bulletins described it as a "Western-backed government". I leave it to readers to think how else the Lebanese government might be described.

BBC WS Newshour, discussing the need for more realpolitik in Iraq now, pointed out that in the "first" Gulf War (1990-1) the US gave Syria's a "free hand" in Lebanon. True enough, as far as it goes, and something to which not attention was paid at the time. However, it is possible to be a little more concrete: in October 1990 many people from the Christian militia of Michel Aoun were found murdered in cold blood (see comments in France, Iraq, Lebanon, Syria... ). Aoun returned to Lebanon last year and, strangely enough,  is now on the pro-Syrian side. This appears to be in order to gain support for him becoming President (BBC WS Newshour, Friday 1 Dec).

Finally, an even older one: Mudlark (FT, 30 Sept.) resolves to call time waiting at the airport for items that were previously allowed as hand luggage "John Reid minutes". Is everybody going mad? We blame not the would-be terrorists who make such measures necessary, but the government which introduces them.

* I've been so busy lately: no time to write the usual sort of post, one that develops a theme and so on. Even so, I'm over a week late with this.

Update: I have not heard that description of the Lebanese government repeated since. Still, it shows how some media organisations were sucked in, at least initially, by Hezbollah's propaganda.

Update 2 - on descriptions of the Lebanese government: Kim Ghattas in reports on Saturday (9 Dec) was still talking about a "Western-backed government", but BBC WS bulletins, Sunday, had "pro-Western government" (which is fair enough). C4 News had softened to "Western-backed government".


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