Caught: BBC’s Shocking First Response to Terror Attack

At the time of writing, more details are emerging on today’s (Wednesday July 2) terror attack on Jerusalem’s busy Jaffa Street thoroughfare. A Palestinian resident of Jerusalem went on the rampage in a bulldozer, attacking two buses, a number of cars and innocent passers-by, killing at least three people and wounding dozens more before being shot by an Israeli policeman.

While BBC Online currently covers the story “Bulldozer rampage hits Jerusalem,” this was not the original headline. Offering a glimpse into the BBC’s warped journalism, the initial headline read “Israel bulldozer driver shot dead.

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While, this time, we were able to catch the BBC before it amended its headline, this example offers further evidence of the BBC’s mindset – the initial instinct to portray Israel as an aggressor and a Palestinian as a victim even if that Palestinian was actively involved in a terrorist attack against innocent civilians.

This pattern was also repeated on the BBC’s television coverage (screenshot below from BBC World).

BBCbulldozer

That this terror attack took place opposite Jerusalem Capital Studios, the local headquarters for many international media outlets, including BBC, Sky News and CNN, ensured that footage and coverage were available almost immediately. The BBC’s very own correspondent Tim Franks even witnessed much of the incident from his office window. The BBC can have no excuse for not having the basic facts of the story in front of them from the very beginning.

Our Special One Year Analysis of the BBC demonstrated how its headline selection for stories focused on combat and terrorist attacks was inconsistent and favoured the Palestinian side. Stories about Palestinian attacks never directly named the aggressors. Instead, headlines such as “Rocket injures dozens in Israel” were used.

Indeed, even the latest BBC headline “Bulldozer rampage hits Jerusalem”, is also fundamentally flawed, failing to attribute the attack to the Palestinian individual who carried it out. Instead it refers to an inanimate machine as the instigator. Of course, the bulldozer did not carry out its actions of its own free will. It was not the city of Jerusalem, the subject of the headline, that was murdered, but at least three innocent Israelis.

For accurate coverage and the latest developments from Jerusalem on this breaking story, see English-language Israeli sources such as The Jerusalem Post, Ha’aretz and YNet News. You can also read the thoughts of HonestReporting’s Backspin blog editor who happened to be in downtown Jerusalem at the time of the terror atttack.

You can send your comments to the BBC Complaints website – http://www.bbc.co.uk/complaints (for detailed instructions on how to navigate the BBC Complaints website, click here).

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[sc:graybox ]Cherryl Smith, PhD, is professor emerita in rhetoric and composition at California State University, Sacramento. Her blog is Framing ...