BBC in the footsteps of Reuters...
By Aleksander Boyd
London 10.08.06 | The BBC, aka Bolivarian Broadcasting Corporation, like no other global news provider is responsible to have established firmly the benign image that many outside Venezuela have about the caudillo Hugo Chavez. Let us not forget that the Beeb co-produced the fiction docu-drama The Revolution Will Not Be Televised. Their website is just another mouth of Bolivarian political propaganda. Recently the Caracas correspondant Greg Morsbach 'reported' about the legal trial of Henrique Capriles Radonski, Mayor of Baruta district in Caracas and one of the most notorious victims of the political prosecution campaign unleashed by Hugo. I took issue with it and sent a complaint letter to the BBC. What follows is the exchange with Stewart McCullough, Divisional Advisor of BBC Information.
The BBC published an article from its Caracas correspondant Greg Morsbach, in which he fails to address, in customary fashion, the most relevant issues of this case. Namely:
- Morsbach fails to mention that the most important bit of evidence a video submitted by Capriles' defence, 'went missing' from the court;
- Morsbach contends "Cuba's ambassador has told local media Mr Capriles should have used his authority as mayor but did nothing to protect his embassy" (sic). However video evidence shows that indeed Capriles did everything in his power to protect Castro's representatives. As seen in the video Capriles, and others, met with Sanchez Otero, who accepted the help offered;
- Morsbach cites that "the ambassador says the opposition mayor entered the premises to demand that the building be searched for any fugitive pro-Chavez officials" (sic), which again is a falacy. Capriles entered the building to safeguard and guarantee the safety of all diplomatic personnel, as shown in the video, that, most curiously, went missing;
- Morsbach fails to address the statements given by Sanchez Otero during Ernesto Villegas' interview whereby he argues that Capriles is lying about the alleged involvement in the siege. I would like to draw reader's attention to the video below, and compare the tone and demeanour of Sanchez Otero to the one linked above;
- Morsbach fails to mention that Sanchez Otero spoke to Dog Mork Ulnes Norwegian Ambassador to Venezuela, who offered to mediate, and is on the record saying "there's no conflict, absolutely no conflict, we are conversing and dialoguing as two sister nations, it's a misunderstanding that it's been resolved in this instance..." (sic);
- Morsbach fails to mention that Sanchez Otero is on the record recognising the authority of Pedro Carmona Estanga, declaring that he had sent a message to president Carmona Estanga and further stressing that the responsility of any act that could take place against them would lay on the shoulders of the President of Venezuela, its Foreign Secretary and ultimately its government, i.e. Venezuela's Executive;
- Morsbach fails to mention that Capriles has already been imprisoned for 120 days in relation to this very same case. Some particulars of his case can be read here;
In sum the BBC's correspondant does another botched job by presenting a fifth of the story, conveniently failing to report issues of great relevance, which by the way, are in clear violation to Venezuela's sovereignty and legislation.
Initially I got a courtesy reply from Stewart McCullough stating that they were looking into my concern and will reply shortly. Then his department sent the following unsigned reply:
Dear Mr Boyd
The article to which you refer gives an impartial and basic outline of the legal case, reflecting the positions of the different parties involved.
The BBC News website caters for a world audience and not an audience of pure Venezuela specialists - we therefore need to keep the story simple and concentrate on the key elements, which is what our correspondent has done.
Thank you again for your interest in our coverage.
Regards BBC News website
To which I replied thusly:
Dear Mr. McCullough,
many thanks for your message. It seems to me that there's no end in sight in the dispute for objectivity, accuracy and impartiality between bloggers and main stream media. I don't think it's of use to remind you about the contents of the Royal Charter and BBC's own guidelines, but perhaps you can point out to me where is it established that the BBC need to keep stories basic in order to accommodate to the intellectual level of its audience.
As described Mr. Morsbach did an appalling job, conveniently simplifying a story to cast a negative light upon opposition politicians so that BBC's "world audience" continues to be misled and misinformed about the politics of Venezuela, so that the propaganda in favour of Hugo Chavez keeps unabated.
Keep up the good work, bearing in mind what has just happened to Reuters. Sooner than you think it'll be the turn of the BBC.
Cordially, Aleksander Boyd
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