British advocacy group details influence on press

British Israel Communications Center accidentally sends email detailing organization's efforts to influence press.

By JONNY PAUL, JERUSALEM POST CORRESPONDENT
September 18, 2011 03:10
1 minute read.
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Protester wrapped in Israeli flag 311 R. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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LONDON – A London-based Israel advocacy organization suffered embarrassment this week after it mistakenly sent to the press details on how it seeks to influence media coverage in the Middle East.

The British Israel Communications Center (BICOM) sent the e-mail last week to its media contacts in which it outlines how it works to influence the media.

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The organization’s donors were the intended recipients of the e-mail, sent by BICOM’s chief executive Lorna Fitzsimons.

The e-mail gave details on how the pro-Israel advocacy organization had been liaising with BBC and Sky News in order to influence and ensure “the most objectively favorable line was taken.”

With the subject title “BICOM’s rapid response to event over the weekend and continuing work on September and the UN,” Fitzsimons said: “Over the weekend, BICOM’s rapid response to the unfolding events in Egypt included distributing our analysis on Egyptian/Israeli relations to key UK media contacts, generated extremely favourable responses.

“Throughout the weekend, BICOM staff were in contact with a whole host of BBC and Sky news desks and journalists, ensuring that the most objectively favorable line was taken,” she said.

Fitzsimons stated also that she briefed Jonathan Ford, a writer for the Financial Times, for his upcoming article, and that BICOM had regular contact with the editor of Prospect magazine, David Goodhart, “helping to inform him about the forthcoming UN vote on Palestinian statehood.”



The influential blog Guido Fawkes commented: “It’s standard lobbyist boasting, but Guido imagines the FT editors will take a dim view of any sign of them being influenced by a PR operation.”

The e-mail has been commented on and reproduced in its entirety on a number of media outlets.

The incident was “mildly embarrassing,” BICOM said.

“A BICOM spokesman denies that Ms. Fitzsimons is to lose her job,” it added.

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