BBC slams star presenter Marr over ‘Israel kills kids’ slur

June 24, 2018



[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach an article below from today’s Mail on Sunday (the Sunday edition of the Daily Mail, one of Britain’s most popular papers).

It is a very rare forced admission by the BBC that their star presenter, Andrew Marr, breached editorial guidelines with a “misleading” claim (probably based on fake news elsewhere in the British media which Marr had wrongly believed and not fact checked) that Israel had killed “lots of Palestinian kids” in Gaza. Marr gratuitously made the claim in the middle of discussing a story about Russia on his influential Sunday morning BBC1 show.

It is an important story by the Mail but it is regrettable that the Mail story doesn’t mention that Hamas and Islamic Jihad took responsibility for most of the recent Gaza deaths – people may wrongly think Marr was right.

Anti-Semitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti forced the BBC complaints board carefully to examine the deaths on the Gaza border over recent weeks, which they were legally bound to check, and the BBC complaints board concluded that their own presenter had in fact mislead the BBC audience with his claims.

Of course, Marr is the just the tip of an iceberg. BBC correspondents, anchors and BBC chosen studio “experts” continually provide misleading information, demonizing Israel, as do many other media outlets.

On the day Sacerdoti made his complaint to the BBC several weeks ago, he also notified me about this and I considered writing about it, and yet not a single British news outlet I then approached at the time said they would be interested in an article pointing out that Marr (and much of the rest of the media) had mislead.

(Credit to the one or two journalists who actually corrected previous news properly, for example, here on the NBC website)

I also attach the article below because despite upholding the complaint the BBC will not require Marr to make an on-air correction or retraction.

In fact they say they will merely post their decision on their own complaints website (which almost nobody reads). Hence this dispatch and the Mail on Sunday story. (The director of BBC News is a subscriber to this Middle East dispatch list.)


Among other recent dispatches mentioning the Gaza border violence:

* Israel wrongly accused of killing Gazan baby, and a minute’s silence to help Hamas at Cannes film festival

* Turkish TV shows abundance of food and supplies in Gaza (& Iran FM caught calling for death of US & UK)

* As UK government demands Israel investigation, why not first investigate 2017 UK bombing in Mosul & Raqqa?



BBC finds Andrew Marr guilty of rules breach over a ‘misleading’ claim that Israel killed ‘lots of Palestinian kids’
* Follows a complaint about comments made on Sunday news programme
* Discussing Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack, Marr said: ‘There’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces’
* His comments were a reference to clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza

By Chris Hastings
The Mail On Sunday
June 24, 2018

BBC bosses have found Andrew Marr guilty of breaching editorial guidelines with a ‘misleading’ claim that Israel had killed ‘lots of Palestinian kids’.

The Corporation’s extraordinary ruling against one of its most senior personalities is almost unprecedented.

It follows a complaint about comments made by the presenter on his flagship Sunday news programme.

During the April 8 edition, Marr concluded a discussion of the Syrian regime’s chemical weapons attack on civilians by saying: ‘And the Middle East is aflame again.

‘I mean there’s lots of Palestinian kids being killed further south as well by Israeli forces.’ His comments were a reference to clashes between Israeli forces and Palestinians in Gaza.

Anti-semitism campaigner Jonathan Sacerdoti complained, writing: ‘When talking about a story on the use of chemical weapons in Syria, Andrew Marr for some reason decided to talk about Israel (which was unrelated anyway). He stated there’s a lot of Palestinian kids being killed further south by Israeli forces.

‘This is completely incorrect and is made up. This was irrelevant to the conversation on Syria… and also actually completely false.’

BBC producers initially tried to defend Marr’s comments by pointing to the fact that five ‘younger people’ had been killed between the beginning of the year and the date of the programme.

They also said several Palestinian children and younger people were killed in the week following the broadcast, but Mr Sacerdoti argued that later events could not be used to justify Mr Marr’s comments.

His complaint has been upheld.

Fraser Steel, head of executive complaints at the BBC, wrote to Mr Sacerdoti saying: ‘The BBC’s guidelines require that output is “well sourced” and “based on sound evidence”.

‘In the absence of any evidence to support the reference to “lots” of children being killed at the time of transmission, it seems to us to have risked misleading audiences on a material point.

‘We therefore propose to uphold this part of your complaint.’


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All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.