Tuesday, March 16, 2010

BBC "incorrect" on Iraq - again

In February there was an infamous interview on the BBC Andrew Marr show when Alastair Campbell got a bit upset. One of the main reasons was that Marr was exaggerating the Iraq casualty figures saying 600,000 died according to "internationally accepted UN figures".

The BBC's "mistake" on that is confirmed here in response to a complaint :
Dear ***
Thanks for your e-mail regarding 'The Andrew Marr Show' as broadcast on 7 February.

Firstly, I should apologise for the delay in getting back to you. We realise that our correspondents appreciate a quick response and I'm therefore sorry that you've had to wait on this occasion.

Your issues were raised with the Editor of 'The Andrew Marr Show', Barney Jones, who has advised that Andrew was incorrect when he attributed the estimate of 600,000 casualties to the UN. He was in fact referring to a widely quoted survey undertaken on behalf of Britain's most prestigious medical journal, 'The Lancet'. During the interview, Andrew said that "an awful lot of people died". And when Alastair Campbell questioned the exact number, he repeats that phrase, saying again that "an awful lot of people died". Andrew also says during the interview that we will never know how many would have died had the invasion not gone ahead. There are many different estimates of the number who died, and we will never know the precise figure.

Barney Jones is grateful for the feedback which helps the production team enormously when they are planning future editions of the programme.

I can assure you that your complaint has been registered on our audience log. This is a daily report of audience feedback that's circulated to many BBC staff, including members of the BBC Executive Board, channel controllers and other senior managers.

Thanks again for taking the time to contact us with your feedback.


How on earth did Marr make this mistake ? Was he let down by researchers ? Did he just make it up ? Given the total untruth of the allegation (the UN has never given official casualty figures for Iraq as far as I can see) this is a serious inaccuracy.

Its sadly typical of the BBC to come up with such stuff on Iraq, they really can't get over the Hutton inquiry it appears. Pathetic.


Levi9909 said...

It's not that serious an inaccuracy. He attributed the figure of 600,000 to the UN and not the Lancet. Big deal. There has never been a plausible refutation of the figure and Madeleine Albright (was that her name?) said it was "a price worth paying" for the containment of a regime that the US itself had encouraged to make war on its neighbours. Subsequently she regretted the remark but she said nothing to suggest that the 600,000 figure was wrong.

If you think it's that serious you could still pursue it but I don't think any objective observer would agree with you.

Regarding the Hutton inquiry, the Beeb let the DG go over it and replaced him with someone more sympathetic to the woefully dishonest Hutton report. What's to get over? The Beeb is an organisation that can change its personnel and its outlook. It's not one person or a party with a line, a programme and a worldview beyond those views of its changeable personnel. If anything it tilts to the establishment and it verges on a fascistic control-freakery to suggest otherwise.

I think it's you that's being pathetic here making an issue out of a non-issue.

MoreMediaNonsense said...

Levi haven't you read this classic debunking of the Lancet Study by Iraq Body Count (an anti-war group) ?


"woefully dishonest Hutton report" - not in my view.

I think we might have to agree to disagree on that.

The BBC and the rest of the MSM are like howling wolves after politicians when they make mistakes but when they themselves make egregious errors like this they just shrug their shoulders and walk away.

Levi9909 said...

Nope, I hadn't read that and I still haven't and I don't intend to. But even if the 600k figure is wrong, the BBC's correction related to the source for the 600k figure, not the figure itself.

If you are disputing the figure rather than its source then that should form the basis of a separate complaint to the Beeb. Which is what I said before. Go ahead with that and let the adjudicator examine the stats and their underlying assumptions. I've examined all I am going to and since I am neither the MSM nor one of its supporters, I feel no onus on me to make its case.

But you made out that the Beeb had admitted to the 600 k figure being wrong. That was your central argument. They still haven't owned up to that.

Why don't you present the article you've linked to them?

You don't agree that Hutton was dishonest? Fine (why am I not surprised?). But the Beeb did let its then DG go over it and the replacement was more Hutton friendly. To suggest that the Beeb's output since then is anti-Hutton is plain silly for the reasons I already gave.

But you have now shifted the issue to the number of Iraqis killed or dead from the source for the number. Have you contacted the Beeb about this? If so, what did they say? If not, why not?

The beeb gets a lot wrong and rarely admits to it but in this case it didn't just shrug its shoulders and walk away. It admitted that its source was wrong which was what it had been challenged on.

It is you who has erred by making out that they admitted to getting the figure wrong. In fairness, you are not walking away. I think "wriggling" might be the word to describe your evasion. Also, the Beeb runs its assertions in the name of the person making them. You seem to prefer anonymity.