Saturday, July 3, 2010
(Covering stories such as the Middle East conflict is a challenge to the BBC's 'neutrality')
By Robert Fisk
"A few weeks ago, a Very Senior Correspondent of the BBC was asked a tricky question.
I will not reveal the identity of this friend of mine, nor the country in which he spoke – He Knoweth Who He Is – but it was his answer that captivated me.
"I recognise this as an issue," he replied....
Note the two words he didn't want to use. Of course, what he should have said was: I know this is a problem. But he couldn't. Because BBC-speak doesn't allow words like problems – because problems have to be solved. And the BBC doesn't solve problems. Because they do not exist. There are only "issues". And issues only have to be "recognised". Thus what my friend really meant was: "I know exactly what you're talking about but I haven't the slightest intention of admitting it, so piss off."....
...But wait. He found, he says, that "lots of people had been thinking deeply about some of the issues". And there are other BBC darling words, too. "The big challenge" is to make sure the media understand the BBC's "strategic direction". And "the challenges of working in the public sector are huge ... I've always been lucky to work with teams that have challenged me."
O Lordy, Lordy, where does this bloody vocabulary come from?.....
But then who wants to talk about anything serious these days? I note an Associated Press dispatch from Jerusalem this week telling us that the Palestinian President, Mahmoud Abbas, recently talked to American Jewish leaders about what the reporter Josef Federman called "touchy topics". Whoops! Touchy topics? Well, here goes. Abbas, according to the AP, spoke about "Mideast peace talks, anti-Israeli incitement in the Palestinian media, violence and terrorism and the Holocaust". What on earth is "touchy" about the Jewish Holocaust? Or about "violence"? Or "incitement"? Or "terrorism"?
What all these words – issues, challenges, delivery, success, quality, achievers, touchy topics – have in common is the essential lie: that everything is for the good; that problems, disasters, third-rate work or bloodbaths simply don't exist, or are at best to be regarded as "touchy topics", something we don't need to hear about or for which we should be forewarned......"