UK’s Top Media Regulator: BBC Made ‘Serious Editorial Failings’ Covering Antisemitic Attack on Jewish Teens
BBC claimed Jewish victims used “anti-Muslim slurs” during 2021 Hanukkah bus attack.
An investigation by the UK’s top media regulator has concluded that the BBC ignored basic journalistic standards in its coverage that smeared groups of Jewish teenagers — who were attacked by a gang of men in London last year — as ‘Islamophobes.’
The BBC committed “significant editorial failings” in its reporting of the antisemitic attack in November 2021, an investigation by the British media regulator Ofcom found.
In its initial coverage, supposedly based on the audio recording from the scene, the BBC promoted a twisted narrative that painted the young Jewish victims as racists and bigots, claiming that they used “slurs about Muslims” while they were being spat at and abused by a gang of men in Central London.
An independent investigation of the recording in January 2021, conducted by leading forensic experts and linguists, found that Jewish kids said nothing of that sort, debunking BBC’s false narrative.
The incident occurred on November 29, 2021, when a mob in London attacked a group of Jewish teenagers. The Jewish teens, who had hired a private bus to take them to Trafalgar Square to witness the lighting of London’s biggest menorah, which traditionally marks the first night of Hanukkah festivities, were threatened and harassed by a group of violent men.
A video of the incident showed “a group of men throwing Nazi salutes, giving the middle finger, spitting on the passengers and then slamming their fists on the bus door and windows,” the newspaper Jerusalem Post reported at that time.
While the BBC smeared the Jewish victims in its initial reporting, it failed to report the attackers’ identity. The British media reports suggested they were most likely of Arab or Middle Eastern origin.
The British newspaper Guardian reported the findings of the media regulator Ofcom.
The BBC committed “significant editorial failings” in its TV and online reporting of an antisemitic attack on Jewish students travelling on a bus in London, according to an investigation by Ofcom.
The UK media regulator said that its investigation into the BBC’s coverage, which drew complaints from parties including the Board of Deputies of British Jews and the chief rabbi, found that the corporation failed to follow its own editorial guidelines to report news with “due accuracy and due impartiality”. (…)
In its coverage, the BBC said that an audio recording made during the incident included an anti-Muslim slur made from inside the bus.
“Our investigation uncovered significant editorial failings in the BBC’s reporting of an antisemitic attack on Jewish students travelling on board a bus in London,” said Ofcom in a statement.
“The BBC’s reports claimed that an audio recording made during the incident included anti-Muslim slurs – which it later changed to the singular ‘slur’ – which came from inside the bus. Shortly afterwards, it received evidence which disputed this interpretation of the audio.”
Ofcom said that the BBC failed to “promptly acknowledge” that the audio recording was disputed and did not update its online news article to reflect this for almost eight weeks.
The media regulator said that during this time the BBC was aware that the content of the article was causing “significant distress and anxiety” to the victims of the attack and wider Jewish community.
“This, in our opinion, was a significant failure to observe its editorial guidelines to report news with due accuracy and due impartiality,” said Ofcom.
A Hard-Fought Victory
The media regulator’s findings come after a hard-fought battle led by the UK weekly newspaper Jewish Chronicle, media watchdog organization CAMERA, and Jewish community members.
The British weekly newspaper Jewish Chronicle reported Monday:
The verdict is a victory for the JC, which has launched a petition calling for a parliamentary inquiry into the BBC over its coverage of Jews and Israel. The petition now has 7,800 signatures.
The Ofcom report also marks a win for Board of Deputies, which commissioned a forensic report dismissing the BBC claim that one of the Jewish victims of the attack had described their attackers as “dirty Muslims” – an allegation that prompted widespread outrage in the community. The Board’s report formed the basis of a complaint that the corporation had failed to properly report the incident.
Our statement on Ofcom's ruling on the BBC's conduct in relation to its reporting of an antisemitic attack on Oxford Street last year. pic.twitter.com/6HkZfAVmko
— Board of Deputies of British Jews (@BoardofDeputies) November 7, 2022
BBC Apologizes for Anti-Israel Coverage
This is not an isolated case. The British broadcaster appears to be institutionally plagued by antisemitic and anti-Israel bias. Last week, the BBC was forced to apologize for the antisemitic and anti-Israel coverage relentlessly spewed by its Arabic-language service.
The news agency Jewish News Syndicate reported Monday:
The BBC has issued a rare apology acknowledging its years-long failure to adequately address complaints concerning its Arabic-language coverage of Israel following CAMERA Arabic’s submission of dozens of correction requests.
“We apologise for the unacceptable delay and will ensure formal responses are issued as soon as possible,” a BBC spokesperson told the Jewish Chronicle. The London-based newspaper has initiated a petition calling for an inquiry into the corporation’s coverage of Jews and Israel.
Since the May 2021 aerial war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip, CAMERA Arabic submitted 26 complaints to BBC regarding the taxpayer-funded Arabic service’s factual errors and other failures to adhere to the corporation’s own standards.DONATE
Donations tax deductible
to the full extent allowed by law.