The Commentator picks up BBC fact-check fail.

The now one year-old (congratulations all!) news and commentary site The Commentator brings us the story of a report by the BBC’s Middle East correspondent Yolande Knell which includes lengthy quotes from a source whose name she could not even get right. 

This is a screenshot of the original, which was later amended following the article in The Commentator:

‘Robert’ Falk is, of course, the infamous Richard Falk. Despite his position since 2008 as ‘UN Special Rapporteur on Human Rights in the occupied Palestinian Territories’, he makes no pretence of objectivity. Here  is Falk on his personal blog expressing support for the 2010 Stuttgart Declaration which opposes a two-state solution and at the bottom line calls for the eradication of Israel.

As The Commentator points out, his anti-Israel ‘CV’ includes much more.

“In a nutshell, Falk is so hostile to Israel that he’s a de facto anti-Israel activist. But even that fails to do justice to the sheer viciousness of his diatribes against the Jewish state. Here’s just a smattering of examples of his approach. First there are the suggested comparisons with Nazi Germany. He has sometimes claimed that he doesn’t quite mean it literally. On others he has talked of Israeli policies as “genocidal”.

He’s ambivalent about Hamas as a terrorist outfit. His language about Israel is peppered with references to “apartheid“, “criminality“, “collective punishment“ and so on. The picture is clear enough.”

Read the whole article here.

So if the BBC could not get Falk’s name right, does that also mean that they failed to run a background check on his suitability as a quotable source before publishing an article relying so heavily upon his opinions? 

And why (just like the Guardian’s Harriet Sherwood only a few days ago) did Yolande Knell fail to point out that the two Palestinian prisoners named in her article – Bilal Diab and Thaer Halahla (Tha’er Halahleh) – are Islamic Jihad activists

In Hebrew there is a useful phrase: ‘Itonut mita’am’ – עיתונות מטעם – which translates as ‘media on behalf of’. The British public funding the BBC through its compulsory license fee may well ask on behalf of whom or what. 

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