Bad news at the Independent

On June 16 2016, the excellent UK Media Watch reported as follows:

The latest smear against Israel in the British media involves a distortion used repeatedly by mainstream media outlets, NGOs and pro-Palestinian propagandists: the charge that Israel cruelly uses water as a weapon against innocent Palestinian civilians, cruelly denying the population an adequate supply.

The particular (well deserved) target of their attention was a dreadful dose of demonization  at the Independent‘s website by Peter Yeung, accusing Israel of cutting the water supply to the Palestinians for Ramadan. This, despite the fact that the opposite was true, and had been shown as such to the Independent. The details are here.

On 17 June 2016, UK Media Watch followed up its earlier report by revealing something very interesting: in response to some of the criticism of his article, Peter Yeung sent a tweet as follows.

“The allegation still stands. It was never reported as fact.”

That’s a breathtakingly stupid explanation, if you ask me. Talk about failing to take responsibility!

As UK media Watch pointed out:

It’s the responsibility of professional journalists (and their editors) to determine if allegations have merit, not merely to parrot baseless charges and malevolent smears.

And they have lodged a complaint.

Meantime, I wonder if there is an explanation for this shocking state of affairs. I am a subscriber to the print edition of Private Eye magazine. The issue number 1420 (10 June – 23 June 2016) has just reached me, and look what I saw on page 9:

p-eye-1

Perhaps the real reason for that daft piece, and the even more daft excuse for not sorting it, can be found in the Private Eye piece:

  • Did Mr Yeung file the offending piece in the hope it was a scoop?
  • Was Mr Yeung following established practice?
  • Was Mr Yeung discouraged from checking any facts?
  • Or, did Mr Yeung have a query about the article, once the storm of criticism started, but never got the go ahead from his manager to spend money on a legal query?

It is possible he did check with Foot Antsey. That excuse is exactly the type of thing some inexperienced junior legal trainee might have come up with – and it at least would have the merit of being cheap advice!

But, for sure, if the Private Eye article is correct, it scarcely seems that the Independent has any chance of being the home of serious journalism. So UK Media Watch is on target here, and will probably find its sights back on that website sooner rather than later.

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