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Once again late and grudging, BBC admits error

John Rentoul

 Once again late and grudging, BBC admits error

It has taken the BBC six months to consider this complaint, but it has finally admitted that reporter Laura Kuenssberg’s report of the Chilcot inquiry on the day that Tony Blair gave evidence, on 29 January, was wrong. This is what Kuenssberg said in her BBC-journalist-interviews-BBC-journalist with presenter Emily Maitlis:

meyer 300x204 Once again late and grudging, BBC admits errorWell that interesting mention, as you said there, of Crawford, let’s just remember for people, that meeting that Tony Blair had with President Bush in the Spring of 2002.  Now at this inquiry, one witness, the former UK Ambassador to the States said, at that meeting Tony Blair signed a deal in blood with President Bush that the UK would go to war alongside America if that was their decision.  Now Tony Blair has dismissed that today, he dismissed Christopher Meyer really, saying well look, he wasn’t there at that meeting and I think you could tell from his body language really what he thought of the attempt by Sir Christopher Meyer to put that point when he was here at the inquiry.

As any fule kno, and as it would have taken the BBC’s Editorial Complaints Unit a moment to find out by looking it up on Google, Sir Christopher (above) said something materially different, to wit:

I’m not entirely clear to this day what degree of convergence was, if you like, signed in blood, at the Crawford ranch.

It is not complicated. It is not even, in the scheme of things, a hugely important mistake. But a news organisation that cared about its reputation for accuracy and impartiality would have fallen over itself to publish a correction as quickly as possible. The above transcripts and this sentence from the Editorial Complaints Unit verdict would have done:

It was inaccurate to report him [Sir Christopher] as having suggested that an absolute commitment to go to war alongside the US had been made.

But no, the verdict goes on to say that, because Kuenssberg

also reported Mr Blair’s dismissal of Sir Christopher’s evidence in relation to the meeting, the inaccurate reporting of that evidence did not result in imbalance.

What an extraordinary defence; and how revealing of BBC psychology. It was wrong; it was stated as fact by a BBC journalist; but because said journalist also reported someone else saying it was wrong it was not biased.

Grudging, wrong and six months too late. Remind me again what the BBC learned from the Hutton Inquiry.

Stan Rosenthal, who made the complaint, says:

I therefore remain dissatisfied with the ECU’s findings on bias and will be appealing to the BBC Trust, along with a number of other complaints about how the BBC are handling the Iraq inquiry.

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  • eternalsceptic

    Not really a surprise as the media in general seem to have a pathological aversion to admitting that they get anything wrong. This is just another example of the overt and biased dramitisation of news and current affairs that seems to be taking place across the press. The infotainment culture is starting to establish itself across all forms of media.


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