Monday, June 27, 2005

Growing insurgency?

A TAE reader brought this one to my attention.

Yesterday, writing about the fact that the US has held talks with some Iraqi rebels, the BBC made this claim:
US officials have acknowledged that the Iraq insurgency is growing.
Unfortunately the “officials” remain nameless, and what they actually said remains unspecified. It is likely, I suspect, that the “official” to whom they refer is General John Abizaid, top Gulf commander for the US, although he in fact said no such thing as the BBC claims. During his recent congressional testimony, Abizaid did say:
In terms of comparison from six months ago, in terms of foreign fighters, I believe there are more foreign fighters coming into Iraq than there were six months ago.
However, he then immediately went on to add:
In terms of the overall strength of the insurgency, I'd say it's about the same as it was.

If Abizaid is indeed the official from whom the BBC derived its claim, then it is plain that the Beeb is simplifying and spinning his testimony to make it sound as negative as possible. If he is not, then the BBC ought to make it plain which officials are saying this, and what they’ve actually said.

Also worth noting is that, since it first published the story, the BBC has updated the article. The offending line now reads:
US officials have said that the Iraq insurgency is growing, and Mr Rumsfeld admitted the revolt could last up to a dozen years.
Why “admitted”? Why not “said”, or “claimed”, or “stated”? As my correspondent asks, had he ever said anything contrary in the past?

Just another example of the Beeb using subtly prejudicial language to manipulate its audience.


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