Israeli official on BBC headline gaffe: These mistakes happen way too often

Israel and its supporters have long complained about biased and misleading headlines on stories in the press abroad about terrorist attacks in Israel.

By
June 18, 2017 17:53
2 minute read.
A satellite transmission dish is seen near BBC Television Center at White City in London

A satellite transmission dish is seen near BBC Television Center at White City in London. (photo credit: REUTERS)

 
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While acknowledging the BBC's clarification of a badly misleading headline about the terrorist attacks in Jerusalem Friday night, Foreign Ministry director-general Yuval Rotem on Sunday warned BBC consumers to be aware, because these mistakes happen “way too often.”

Following an outcry from everyone from the Foreign Ministry to US President Donald Trump's son over an initial headline on Friday that read, “Three Palestinians killed after deadly stabbing in Jerusalem,” the news organization changed the headline to, “Israeli police woman stabbed to death in Jerusalem.”

Diplomatic officials acknowledged that a tweet about the misleading headline that was posted by US President Donald Trump's son, Donald Jr., likely had an influence on the BBC's decision to retract the first headline, and then issue an apology. Trump Jr. has 1.69 million followers on his Twitter account.

Rotem retweeted a tweet from the spokesman at the Israeli embassy that displayed the apology, and wrote this comment: “BBC World admits mistake, but such mistakes happen way too often. #BBC consumers beware.”


In an initial tweet drawing attention to the headline that said that three Palestinians were killed, Trump Jr. wrote: “You mean after they stabbed a female Israeli police officer to death... right? This is as close to being misleading as possible.”


On Sunday the British Broadcasting Corporation issued the following statement: “We accept that our original headline did not appropriately reflect the nature of the events and subsequently changed it. Whilst there was no intention to mislead our audiences, we regret any offense caused.”

When one of his followers thanked him for pointing out the headline, and noting that the BBC deleted a tweet featuring the headline, Trump replied: “It's my pleasure. To me it seemed like a very slanted tweet against Israel given what actually happened. Guess I was right.”


Israel and its supporters have long complained about biased and misleading headlines on stories in the press abroad about terrorist attacks in Israel.

For instance, in the attack at the Damascus Gate in February 2016 that killed Hadar Cohen, the headline on the initial CBS story was “3 Palestinians killed as daily violence grinds on.” About 90 minutes later, and after numerous complaints, that headline was changed to this: “Israeli police kill 3 alleged Palestinian attackers.” And after further protests, it was again changed to “Palestinians kill Israeli officer, wound another before being killed.”

And after last year's attack at the Sarona market in Tel Aviv that killed four people, CNN ran the following headline: “Two ‘Terrorists’ Captured,” putting the word terrorists in quotation marks. It later apologized, saying putting terrorists in quotation marks was “a mistake.”

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