Wednesday, March 21, 2007

BBC's Johnston a "Friend" to Palestinians

Before this post starts let it be clear that we hope that Alan Johnston is released unharmed by his kidnappers. Let it also be clear that this is not an attempt to somehow "gloat" over what has happened or belittle it in any way.

The BBC's Gaza correspondent has been kidnapped. He was the resident reporter there for three years. Amongst the messages urging his release is one common theme; Alan Johnston is a "friend" of the Palestinian people. There is nothing wrong with being friendly to Palestinians but the implication is that Johnston should be released because his reports benefited the Palestinians. In other words he was biased in their favour.

Tom Gross picks up on a couple of examples. Firstly a statement from Paul Adams, the BBC diplomatic editor, saying is was "his [ Johnston's] job to bring us day after day reports of the Palestinian predicament”. It wasn't Johnston's job to report the facts, only the predicament.

Gross also quotes from Palestinian news sources in which a report quotes the Palestinian Journalists Syndicate as urging Johnston's release because he is "famous for his opinions which are supportive of the Palestinians.” (Hat Tip: Rop for this source)

Another example is a statement from Mr Johnston's father who told the BBC, "It it is no way to treat a friend of the Palestinian people."

We all hope and pray that Alan will be released unharmed, but the tragic event of his kidnapping has revealed that his reporting over the last three years has been heavily biased in favour of the Palestinians.