More uncritical BBC amplification of CPJ messaging

Last month we discussed the BBC News website’s reporting on the topic of the deaths of journalists during the current conflict:


As we noted at the time:

“The fact it took a month for the BBC News website to come up with the grand total of two paragraphs about four Israeli journalists all brutally murdered by Hamas terrorists on the same day, even as it continues its long-running amplification of propaganda – including from dubious third parties – that Israel targets journalists, is certainly worthy of note.”

Earlier this month, a BBC Radio 5 Live journalist called Karishma Patel took to Twitter (where her bio notes that this time three years ago she was an intern at UNRWA: an example of the ‘revolving door’ between journalism and NGOs) to promote “an interview I set up today”.

That nine-minute-long interview was aired on December 18th on the BBC Radio 5 Live Drive programme (from 2:11:41 here) and was introduced by presenter Clare McDonnell as follows: [emphasis in italics in the original, emphasis in bold added]

McDonnell: “Well all of this comes as press and humanitarian organisations have raised the alarm over how many journalists have been killed in Gaza. On Friday, Al Jazeera cameraman Samer Abu Daqqa was killed by an Israeli drone strike in Khan Younis. The network has called this an assassination and has referred the case to the International Criminal Court. Jodie Ginsberg is president of the Committee to Protect Journalists – a non-profit that promotes press freedom worldwide.”

McDonnell did not bother to inform listeners that Al Jazeera is run by the same state which funds and hosts the Hamas terrorist organisation or that – as the BBC well knows – it is already party to ‘lawfare’ petitions to the ICC.

As reported by the Times of Israel:

“Al Jazeera initially said Abu Daqqa and Gaza bureau chief Wael Al-Dahdouh were wounded in a school in Khan Younis, where they were hit by “shrapnel from an Israeli missile attack.”

In a subsequent statement, Al Jazeera attributed the injuries to a drone strike, saying: “Following Samer’s injury, he was left to bleed to death for over five hours, as Israeli forces prevented ambulances and rescue workers from reaching him, denying the much-needed emergency treatment.””

According to the CPJ website, the claims concerning what McDonnell unquestioningly described as “an Israeli drone strike” came from Al Jazeera itself and another Qatar-linked media outlet:

“On December 15, Al Dahdouh and Abu Daqqa were covering the aftermath of the nightly [sic] Israeli strikes on a UN school sheltering displaced people in the center of Khan Yunis, southern Gaza, when they were wounded as a result of a missile launched from what is believed to be an Israeli drone, according to reports by their outlet and the Middle East Eye.”

In the very cosy conversation between McDonnell and Ginsberg, listeners heard of “an unprecedented number of journalists killed in Gaza” and “a record number”. Notably, no mention whatsoever was made of the four Israeli journalists (Roee Idan of Ynet, Yaniv Zohar of Israel Hayom, Shai Regev of Ma’ariv and Ayelet Arnin of Kan News) who were murdered by Hamas operatives on October 7th.

Having told BBC radio listeners that journalists in the Gaza Strip are “not safe” because “everywhere is being bombed”, Ginsberg went on to give an inaccurate account – with no correction from McDonnell – of the death of Abu Daqqa.

Ginsberg: “He was at a hospital which was targeted in an Israeli drone strike and he was killed. He died basically because no ambulances were able to get to him over a five-hour period and he bled to death.”

Later in the conversation, McDonnell asked:

McDonnell: “Is there a sense that there’s deliberate targeting going on as well?”

Ginsberg: “That’s right. Look, in a war it’s incredibly difficult to get the kind of information that you would want to be able to say these things definitively but there is certainly a disturbing pattern in which journalists clearly wearing press insignia, in spaces well known – as they were in Lebanon – well known for being an area that journalists film from and report from, having been killed.”

Ginsberg then went on to cite a report put out by the CPJ in May 2023 in which it was claimed that twenty journalists had been killed by the IDF over 22 years. She told listeners of a “worrying pattern in which it looks like in some cases journalists may certainly have been targeted” and even went on to promote the unevidenced claim that journalists’ families had received “threats from the Israeli military” before being “targeted”.

As was noted here in May when the BBC provided uncritical amplification for that CPJ report, no small number of those twenty journalists had links to proscribed groups, either as members of the groups themselves or as employees of media outlets belonging to terrorist organisations.

As CAMERA UK has documented, some of the journalist casualties appearing in the CPJ’s current tally also worked for Hamas-run outlets while others were employed by media organisations that celebrated the October 7th massacre (including the murders of four Israeli journalists) or did so themselves.

Nevertheless, when asked by McDonnell “what needs to change?”, Ginsberg spoke of the “need to see an end to the situation in which civilians are being killed”.

Ginsberg: “Journalists are civilians and civilians should never be targeted.”

Remarkably, McDonnell refrained from challenging Ginsberg about her portrayal of people employed by the media arms of designated terrorist organisations as journalists and civilians and failed to remind listeners that one of the reasons why “civilians are being killed” in the Gaza Strip is because Hamas and other terror groups embed themselves in civilian areas and facilities and often wear civilian clothing.

Ginsberg’s parting remarks included the assertion that “journalism holds a really vital role in holding power to account”. However, it would appear that for the Committee to Protect Journalists, “power” does not include foreign-funded terrorist organisations holding both their own and Israeli civilians hostage.

Notably, on the same day that this BBC radio 5 Live report was aired, another BBC journalist  – Yasmin Khatun Dewan; a former contributor to the Qatar-linked outlet ‘Middle East Eye’ – also promoted the CPJ’s messaging on the BBC News channel.

As we know only too well, the BBC refuses to call members of Hamas and other proscribed organisations terrorists because it claims that such language “carries value judgements”. In mid-October CAMERA Arabic approached the BBC about its portrayal of employees of Hamas media outlets as journalists. The response received included the following:

“We are not in a position to disqualify individuals with the title or role of ‘press’ or ‘journalist’.”

Regrettably, it is hardly surprising to see that an organisation which refuses to make “value judgements” about armed terrorists who raped and slaughtered young women at a music festival, murdered babies and pensioners in their own homes and burned civilians to death is also unwilling to take a stance on the topic of ‘journalists’ who work for media outlets run by the very terrorist organisation that perpetrated those atrocities. 

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  1. says: Neil C

    I think the BBC know exactly how many journalists are members of Hamas, indeed and I wonder just how many BBC employees are either supporters of or members of Hamas. I fail to understand why OFCOM allows the broadcast of pro-Iranian and pro-Hamas interviews on the BBC, surely they should not even be walking the streets of the UK let alone being given unchallenged airtime. If 100 journalists have been killed just how many are covering the Gaza war? they must be falling over each other! Compare that to how much coverage and how many journalists are covering the deaths in The Sudan and elsewhere. Or is the immunity afforded a bullet proof vest that says PRESS being used as a cover for a terrorist fighter, in the same way Red Crescent ambulances are being used to transfer fighters around the Gaza Strip where the tunnels have been blocked. It is all just another classic case of the world’s unwarranted and unjustified hatred of Jews by shining the spotlight on Israel the only Jewish State in order to denigrate it and Jews in the eyes of the rest of the world, most of whom still have not condemned Hamas for the October 7 atrocities. It is high time the British Government gave their left wing civil servants the task of finding out just how many UN representatives are members of or affiliated to Islamic terrorist Organisations. #defundthebbc

    1. says: Sid

      Absolutely correct – I think the FCDO is well aware what is going on but like they deal with FOI requests how they fund terrorist organisations like Fatah, Hamas, IJ etc under the guise of aid for “social” projects by rejecting to provide information under Sections 27 and 38 of the FOI Act – endangering health and safety etc – they will do the same re the journalists, UN etc.

      Even the relief coordinator for Gaza, newly appointed, husband was an aid to Arafat! So it is not just UN reps but also their spouses etc

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