JEREMY BOWEN – AND THE GAZA WAR
I Introduction and Executive Summary
On 15 April 2009 the BBC Editorial Standards Committee found that remarks made by its head of Middle East reporting, Jeremy Bowen, contained an anti-Israel bias.Remarkably he has retained his position despite this finding, which took two and ahalf years from the original complaint.We have analysed a selection of Mr Bowen’s contributions to the BBC reporting onthe Israeli operation ‘Cast Lead’ which took place in December 2008 – January 2009 -‘The Gaza conflict.’ We have found:1.
Of 58 reports
by Mr Bowen, 38 were unbalanced. Of those, a staggering 98% portrayed Israel in a negative light;2.
Of the civilian human interest interviews selected by Mr Bowen, 82% portrayed Palestinians in a positive light – a remarkable feat when, for most of the conflict, Mr Bowen complained that he was not allowed into Gaza and so principally only had access to Israelis;3.
Of Mr Bowen’s 22 diary entries, all posted on the BBC website under the titleof “The Bowen Diary,” 20 were unbalanced. All of them portrayed Israel in anegative light;4.
The Bowen Diary frequently included personal opinion of Mr Bowen in clear breach of BBC guidelines;5.
Mr Bowen’s Panorama programme “Gaza out of the ruins” dated 9 February2009, was an unbalanced attack against Israel, in which Mr Bowen presentshimself more as an expert than reporter, and makes his personal opinionscentral to the programme.This report is now the subject of an official complaint to the BBC about Mr Bowen’s bias. It is hoped that the BBC’s response time will be less than the two and a half years required for the previous complaint.We question:1)
Why does the BBC allow its head of Middle East Reporting to post hisown personal and highly biased diary on the BBC website in breach of BBC Guidelines;2)
Why does the BBC allow its reporters to refer its audience to The BowenDiary as though it constitutes an official record;
Reports here includes radio, TV, website articles and diary entries