Lord Grade tells Podcast Against Antisemitism BBC’s reportage of Oxford Street incident is “shoddy journalism”
Lord Grade, a former Chairman of the BBC, has described the BBC’s rapportage as “shoddy journalism” in today’s episode of Podcast Against Antisemitism.
In the podcast, Lord Grade described the BBC’s coverage of the recent antisemitic Oxford Street incident, which has come under fire, as a “very poor piece of journalism”.
In response to why he thought that the BBC has been alone among major media outlets in suggesting, without evidence, that the Jewish victims in the incident were also racist and therefore at least partially to blame, Lord Grade described the coverage as “very poor journalism. I wouldn’t put it down to antisemitism. It’s very, very poor journalism on the face of what we know at the moment. It’s just a very, very poor piece of journalism. To describe the antisemitic taunts from the people who launched the attack, which you can see on film, there’s no way you can describe the antisemitism as ‘alleged’, which is what the BBC report says. They then said there were clearly anti-Islamist cries from the bus. There is no evidence for that. It may be true, there may have been, I don’t know, but there is no evidence that anyone’s found so far to support that and the BBC has got to explain two things; why it defended the broadcast without really understanding the nature of the complaint and examining the evidence, and then two, how on earth did they come to make such a pig’s ear of their rapportage.”
Our polling has shown that a majority of British Jews are not satisfied by the BBC’s handling of antisemitism complaints, which is a figure far worse for the BBC than any of the other major broadcasters. Historically, the BBC has handled complaints internally, and only relatively recently has Ofcom been given a role, whereby if the BBC rejects complaints at every stage, a complainant can now escalate the matter to Ofcom. But few members of the public have the patience to get through this uniquely drawn-out process, which they have to do because the BBC so consistently rejects antisemitism complaints. Why, we asked Lord Grade, is the BBC so resistant to acknowledging error, both in this case and over the years?
Lord Grade replied: “Well the first thing to say is that I have found, because I have complained to the BBC even as a former Chairman and as a former Senior Executive in the corporation, I have complained to the BBC and without exception, the first complaint has gone into the programme makers, the editorial people, and without exception they come back, always, they’re never wrong. They always come back, straight away, the default position is ‘we’re not wrong.’ Then when you dig into it and you escalate it to the BBC’s formal complaints procedure, there’s a bit more work done, forensic evidence collecting, and eventually…I don’t think I’ve ever lost a complaint against the BBC at that stage. So the problem lies with the editorial teams who seem incapable of ever admitting quickly that they’re wrong, and I think that’s a very serious failing. What they don’t understand is that admitting you’re wrong and admitting quickly that you’re wrong is a sign of strength, not of weakness, and I think they seem to see it as a sign of weakness, which it isn’t, of course.”
Lord Grade also discussed highlights from his storied career in media and broadcasting, and endorsed Campaign Against Antisemitism’s coming protest outside the BBC.
The podcast with Lord Grade can be listened to here, or watched here.
Podcast Against Antisemitism, produced by Campaign Against Antisemitism, talks to a different guest about antisemitism each week. It streams every Thursday and is available through all major podcast apps and YouTube. You can also subscribe to have new episodes sent straight to your inbox.
Previous guests have included comedian David Baddiel and actor Eddie Marsan.