BBC finds comment on Israel and Gaza was 'misleading'

After complaint from British journalist, BBC promises to issue correction about 'lots of Palestinian kids being killed'

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June 24, 2018 16:37
2 minute read.
BBC's Andrew Marr Show, during the Conservative Party Conference, in Manchester, Britain, October 1,

BBC's Andrew Marr Show, during the Conservative Party Conference, in Manchester, Britain, October 1, 2017.. (photo credit: STEFAN ROUSSEAU/REUTERS)

 
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When Jonathan Sacerdoti was watching the BBC in late April, he was taken aback to hear presenter Andrew Marr casually refer to “lots of Palestinian kids being killed” by Israeli forces – in a conversation about Syria.

The UK-based journalist and analyst felt compelled to issue a complaint to the BBC, and wrote to the broadcaster saying the statement was factually incorrect, completely irrelevant and inappropriate to the conversation at hand.

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After weeks of back and forth, Sacerdoti finally received a letter on Friday stating part of his complaint – that Marr stated something false – was being upheld.

“I don’t make a habit of complaining to the BBC for everything I see,” Sacerdoti told The Jerusalem Post via phone from Jaffa on Sunday. “The reason I wrote on this one was it was just so glaringly factually incorrect. There was no question for them to argue on.”

But they argued regardless, said Sacerdoti, with several BBC emails pointing out that teenagers were wounded by Israeli troops and later that one was killed – more than a week after Marr’s statement.

On Friday, however, in a letter to Sacerdoti, Fraser Steel, the head of executive complaints for the BCC, conceded the point.

“In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to ‘lots’ of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point,” Steel wrote in the letter, a copy of which was shared with the Post. “We therefore propose to uphold this part of your complaint, which means that we agree that there was a breach of editorial standards, and this will be acknowledged on the public record in the form of a summary of the matter to be published on the complaints pages of bbc.co.uk.”



Sacerdoti said this means that no apology will be made, and the acknowledgment will be “buried on a part of the site that nobody actually reads.”

Separately, Steel dismissed the complaint over the relevancy of the point to the discussion and the equivalency made on BBC One’s The Andrew Marr Show between Israeli forces and the Syrian regime using chemical weapons.

“We do not believe the proximity of the stories would have given viewers a misleading impression of what had happened to the Palestinian protesters,” Steel wrote.

After a request from the Post, a spokesman for the BBC said Sunday, “The findings will be published on the BBC executive complaints unit website in due course.”

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