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Proletarian issue 59 (April 2014)
Editorial: The BBC lies
The BBC lies and it knows it lies. There is no accident or confusion about this, just a concerted attempt to create a propaganda picture that fits with the imperialist agenda – whether that be of destroying independent Syria, bringing down the elected government in Ukraine or destroying the gains of the Venezuelan revolution. It is what the military refer to as ‘psyops’ – psychological operations – and it’s a crucial and criminal part of every imperialist war effort.

Unfortunately for the BBC and the rest of the corporate media, their near-monopoly on communications, although in many ways stronger than ever, is at the same time not quite complete. The holes where real information can get through may be tiny in the grand scheme of things, but once you know where to look they are everywhere – and modern communications are making them more widely accessible than ever before.

Back when Nato planes were carpet-bombing Libya into submission, laying waste to the country’s civilisation and infrastructure, the BBC was exposed as having used fake footage of crowds in what it claimed was a “live link-up” with the popular masses who were supposed to be out celebrating the “liberation” of Green Square from Gaddafi and the Jamahiryan state. But the footage actually (and quite obviously to more observant members of the audience) featured Indians in India, not Arabs in Libya.

This followed hot on the heels of the infamous fabrication by Al Jazeera of another report that claimed to show cheering crowds in Green Square, and which had been splashed across the world by the obliging imperialist media before it was exposed as a complete fabrication – filmed with actors on a movie set in a cynical attempt to fool the Libyans and their supporters into giving up their resistance to Nato’s hired guns.

Now the BBC has been caught out again – not that you’d know that if you’re relying on other corporate media sources for your news. RT’s Truthseeker reported on 22 March that the BBC had been spotted last autumn re-using fabricated footage in a ‘report’ of a “chemical attack” that had previously been presented as a “napalm attack” (although strangely lacking in any of the symptoms of napalm exposure), and which was supposed to have fortuitously occurred just as the BBC arrived to film a remote rural hospital in Syria.

Complete with a ‘doctor’ who had more concern for the camera than for her ‘patients’ and with some (extremely unconvincing) actors playing the role of ‘victims’, the first airing of the ‘news’ item in August just happened to coincide with the attempt to push the war vote through parliament.

The doctor, who spoke excellent English (and was apparently available for redubbing her own voiceover) also appeared on Radio 4’s influential Today programme, and the BBC’s flagship current-affairs Newsnight show. On closer examination, it transpires that ‘Dr Rola’ (not her real name) actually lives in Britain and works for the NHS, travelling to Uganda and Syria for ‘charity work’.

The day after the report was first aired, she gave an interview in a London news studio in which she was given plenty of uninterrupted air time to describe the dreadful scenes she had ‘witnessed’ in Syria before being sympathetically encouraged to criticise Ed Miliband for failing to support the war vote by her ‘impartial’ BBC news host.

The ‘anti-war’ side of the debate was given to ‘left’ Labour darling Dianne Abbot, who did nothing to expose the lies of her opponent. Indeed, she implicitly endorsed them: “To say that MPs ... refused to give Cameron a mandate for bombing this weekend means that we don’t care; that we don’t think the scenes are horrific, is to misunderstand ... there was a consensus that bombing the Syrians this weekend would not help.”

The presenter stated accusingly: “Many Labour party people fought in the Spanish civil war when there was a great slogan that said ‘If you tolerate this, your children will be next’, and some people think that a line has been crossed here [referring of course, to Obama’s ‘red line’ on ‘chemical attacks’ by the Syrian government ‘against its own people’]. Clearly you don’t.” Abbott’s reply about the lack of public support for “getting involved in a civil war” was cut short by the programme’s editors.

Unfortunately for the BBC, their fakery has been spotted, and complaints have led to an investigation (not reported by themselves or by most of the rest of the British media, naturally). As one complainant wrote to the BBC after the ‘hospital’ clip was redubbed in September: “This is the total fabrication, from beginning to end, of an atrocity, with BBC ‘reporter’ Ian Pannell standing amidst a tableau of very bad actors. This is completely beyond the pale.”

Or as a commenter on former ambassador Craig Murray’s blog put it: “Ian Pannell is clearly doing the spooks’ bidding. If he doesn’t realise it, he’s just another ambitious young idiot.”

And, on the subject of burying news that by rights ought to be making front-page headlines for weeks, that’s just what the BBC and almost all the other corporate news outlets have been spotted doing just as we go to press.

Senior Turkish military and political officials – including the foreign minister and deputy chief of staff – have been caught red-handed on tape plotting a false-flag operation against an important historical site (Suleyman Shah's Tomb – a small enclave some 35km over the Syrian border that is owned by Turkey and protected by a small military guard of honour) that could be used to ‘justify’ all-out war on Syria.

How did the BBC and other news outlets report the audio leak that revealed this plot? ‘Turkey blocks YouTube’ was the headline they all went with – referring to Prime Minister Erdogan’s attempts to stifle the story – while the crucial subject matter of the leaked audiotape under discussion was referred to in passing (and extremely obliquely) as a “discussion about possible military operations”!

In Britain, it was left to a small website, propagandamatrix.com, to point out what a bombshell the leak really was – and to demonstrate just how coordinated and uniform had been the imperialist media’s response. If our readers need any convincing of the complete lack of independence of our ‘free’ press from the imperialist ruling class, the video report posted on Propaganda Matrix makes for extremely instructive viewing.

The constant barrage of lies and war propaganda to which we are daily subjected is a vital cornerstone of the imperialist fortress that keeps our rulers protected and their system in place. The day that workers en masse wake up and realise the extent of the lies that they have been told will be a very dangerous day indeed for the world’s super-exploiters. It is the job of communists and progressives everywhere to do all in their power to bring that day forward by using every opportunity to expose and challenge these psychological operations, and to replace lies with the truth.
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