The latest contribution to the BBC’s coverage of the upcoming election in Israel came from Tom Bateman in the form of a filmed item titled “Netanyahu and the allegations of corruption” which appeared on the BBC News website’s ‘Middle East’ page on February 20th.
“Final lists of candidates will be drawn up in Israel this week ahead of the country’s general election in April.
It’s an important moment in the run up to the ballot – giving a clearer picture about how the political parties are positioned. Fighting to hold on to the premiership, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been trying to delay any decision over whether he should faces [sic] charges over allegations of corruption – claims he categorically denies.
A decision by the country’s Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit could take place in the coming weeks.
Tom Bateman, our Middle East Correspondent in Jerusalem, explains the cases.”
Visitors to the BBC News website had already been provided with a more detailed explanation in writing just two months earlier in December 2018. The first two sections of Bateman’s filmed report – headed “what are the corruption claims against Benjamin Netanyahu?” and “what exactly is he alleged to have done?” – added nothing new to the story.
Section three of the item – headed “so…what next?” – did not bring BBC audiences any information they have not already heard from Bateman’s colleague Yolande Knell.
In section four – headed “but wait, aren’t there Israeli elections on the way?” Bateman told viewers:
Bateman: “There are elections coming. They’ve been called early with Mr Netanyahu’s agreement. And he wants any hearing on all of this postponed, turning it, basically, into an election issue.”
With the justification for his use of the phrase “with Mr Netanyahu’s agreement” unclear, Bateman went on to describe Netanyahu’s reactions to the allegations – a topic BBC audiences have also previously heard about in recent weeks – before coming to section five of the item – headed “does anyone care?”.
Bateman: “Opposition parties certainly do care. They say that there is no way Mr Netanyahu should carry on as prime minister if he is facing criminal charges.”
Bateman did not bother to inform viewers that one of the two people whose photograph was used to illustrate that statement had the previous day announced that she would not be running in the upcoming election – as the BBC obviously knows given its use of the word ‘former’. Neither did he make any effort to inform viewers with the factual background concerning relevant Israeli legislation.
Bateman closed the item:
Bateman: “But, despite all of this, the opinion polls suggest that his party is still on course to become the biggest after the election. And when you speak to his most loyal supporters, people in his Likud party, the people that like to refer to him by his nickname “Bibi”, they’ll hear absolutely none of it. They repeat his claim that this is all fake news.”
So as we see BBC coverage of the April 9th election limps on with yet more reporting on topics already covered but virtually no information which would contribute to audience understanding of the new players on Israel’s political scene and the issues that concern voters.