Bad News From London

Two days after the terrorist bombings in London, British Prime Minister Blair gave a high-profile interview on BBC Radio, which Associated Press covered in this manner:

Prime Minister Tony Blair said Britain must defend against terrorism – but must also strive to understand the underlying causes of the violence, which he identified as deprivation, lack of democracy and ongoing conflict in the Middle East.“I think this type of terrorism has very deep roots,” Blair said. “As well as dealing with the consequences of this – trying to protect ourselves as much as any civil society can – you have to try to pull it up by its roots.”

That meant boosting understanding between people of different religions, helping people in the Middle East see a path to democracy and easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, he said. (emphasis added)

Blair’s apparent linking of Israel with the London attacks set off a firestorm, angering Israeli leaders while pleasing Palestinians. An editorial from Israel’s largest paper, Yediot Ahronot, responded ‘With all due respect, the British Prime Minister is wrong,’ while Palestinian spokesman Saeb Arekat quipped that Blair had ‘touched reality and spoke strategically of the need to deal with the problems of this region.’

But HonestReporting subscribers in England who had listened carefully to Blair’s BBC interview noticed something strange ? in the interview (available here), Blair never actually mentioned the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. What did Blair say? That ‘some of the critical issues in the Middle East’ need to be ‘dealt with and sorted out’. AP editorialized Blair’s vague statement to mean the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

After receiving complaints from the HR subscribers, Associated Press issued an official correction:

In a July 9 story about Prime Minister Tony Blair’s comments on overcoming global terrorism, The Associated Press erroneously reported that he spoke of easing the conflict between Israel and the Palestinians. Blair did not specifically mention the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in his interview with the British Broadcasting Corp.

Kudos to media monitors for eliciting the correction, but two questions remain: At what point in the editorial chain did AP filter Blair’s words, artificially introducing Israel as one of Blair’s ‘root sources’ of Islamist terror? And what is being done at AP ? the world’s largest wire agency ? to rectify this apparent anti-Israel bias, and the misrepresentation of UK policy?

Comments to AP:


In the wake of the attacks, The (UK) Sun published a roundup of Islamic terrorism ‘across the world over the last decade’ ? complete with map. Guess which Mideast country that has absorbed hundreds of Islamist attacks during this period does not appear in the Sun’s account?

It seems that editors at The Sun don’t consider the nearly 1000 Israeli civilian victims of Islamic terror worthy of mention as any one of the ‘worst atrocities’ for the past 12 years.

* UPDATE * In apparent response to this HR critique, The Sun’s page now includes this statement:

We have not included the unforgivable Palestinian terror attacks and suicide bombings in Israel due to their sheer number.


BBC’s website began describing Thursday’s London attacks as ‘terrorism’ in bold headlines, but editors then changed their minds on the term, stripping it from all unattributed contexts.

Bloggers Harry’s Place and Meryl Yourish caught BBC’s quick switcheroo.

BBC thereby avoided the hypocrisy of referring only to attacks on British soil as terrorism. But HonestReporting suggests a far better editorial correction ? the time has come for major news outlets to begin calling all Islamic terrorism directed against civilian populations by its name.

Thank you for your ongoing involvement in the battle against media bias.