British Broadcasting Corporation, a beacon of international journalism, has proposed us this week two exemplary masterpieces on how to discredit legitimate public queries on high-profile issues.
Richard Galpin, a BBC World Affairs correspondent who warns on his Twitter that “views expressed are mine, not BBC’s” abused this brand by releasing an article “Mother Agnes: Syria’s ‘detective’ nun who says gas attack film faked“.
He insists that he interviewed Mother Agnes-Mariam de la Croix, the prominent Lebanese Carmelite nun who is a central figure in Mussalaha, a grass roots movement for reconciliation between all communities in Syria. She is the author of a resonant 50-page report “The Chemical attack on East Ghouta to justify military right to protect intervention in Syria” (PDF file 47 Mb). The report thoroughly analyses almost every relevant video that was posted on YouTube on the day of attack and reveals a number of facts challenging the established version of this tragedy. E.g., why there are so many unidentified children among those affected in those videos? Why there are almost no women? Why do some of the videos show clear signs of sophisticated overlapping? Why, in many instances, are the same individuals shown as both dead and alive? Where are remaining 1,458 corpses other than the eight whose burials have been documented? And most importantly, where are the missing 65 Alawites children, abducted by the rebels on the eve of East Ghouta attack in Lattakia?
So despite his notion to the interview with Mother Agnes, Richard Galpin hardly cites a single substantial word of her but benevolent “God bless you, my dear”. He fails to present any substance of the report and hesitates to publish a single revealing video still image supporting Mother Agnes’ claims. Instead he relies on questionable assessment by Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch: “She is not a professional video forensic analyst”. But what if the fact that the videos released on August 21 were staged is evident for any attentive observer even lacking diploma in forensics?
Here for example is the short abstract from the report. It refers to the video uploaded on August 21 at 08:32:59 Damascus time. It shows a suite full of inanimate bodies of children and adult males. In a corner it seems that the wrapped bodies in color are those of women.
We have recognized the same room in a documentary of Al-Jazeera (original Youtube link is deleted now – OR). The shooting of the room in this documentary is about an early arrangement of the mortuary groups. We see heredown the same room with only six children and one male. Strangely they are in the same position they will have when the room will be full. It means that it is a scenographic arrangement.
The report is full of such eloquent evidence.
An aspiration to discredit Mother Agnes was the clear objective of utterly biased Mr.Galpin’s piece. Notably that was the first significant coverage of Mother Agnes’ report, released on September 11, in a mainstream media. And she was merely slandered and mispresented. Mr.Galpin was wondering about the motives of the nun: “she fears the minority Christian community in Syria will be jeopardized once Syrian government is overthrown”; but failed to assume that somebody can be motivated by a simple human desire to unearth the truth. Indeed, this virtue is not endemic for professional journalists today.
We would prefer to attribute this fault to the personal correspondent’s peculiarities rather than to the drastic fall of reporting standards of BBC, but another show released 2 days later is leading us to an opposite conclusion. That is a Newsnight interview by BBC top presenter Kirsty Wark with Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter who made public Edward Snowden’s revelations on global Internet surveillance programs of the US security services in June. Jonathan Cook was very straight-forward about interviewer’s skills:
Throughout the interview, Wark abandons even the pretence of doing what journalism is supposed to be about: interrogating the centres of power and holding them to account.
Instead Wark mimics adversarial journalism by interrogating the US journalist Glenn Greenwald about his role in the NSA leaks, as though she’s a novice MI5 recruit.
Watching her interview, I couldn’t help getting rid of impression that all BBC staff is apparently engaged in adversarial journalism now. But discrediting a target they discredit themselves first.