The BBC, the shaggy dog story and the gas chambers


By Robyn Rosen
June 23, 2011
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Yesterday, the BBC admitted it had “failed to make the right checks” after it irresponsibly posted a false story about a dog who was reportedly ordered to be stoned to death by a Jewish judge in Israel after a court believed it was the reincarnation of a disgruntled lawyer.

The story, one which spread like wildfire throughout the international press, was not checked by one single reporter. It was, of course, utterly false.

Yahoo ran the item as its top news story last week, attracting more than 1,900 comments, the majority of which contained antisemitic diatribe including: “Dirty Jews should be stoned instead” and “Should have let Hitler gas all of them, big noses small brains”.

It eventually removed the story, after the JC alerted them. Even the press officer, too stretched or too busy to do his job, asked to be sent the various retractions.

Despite complaints from readers who flagged the comments as offensive, its customer care team did not act and no one checked the veracity of the story.

On Wednesday, five days after it originally posted the story, the BBC admitted: “What we did not know when we wrote the story was that the Israeli Hebrew-language newspaper Maariv had already published a retraction and an apology.
“We should never have written the article and apologise for any offence caused.”

Too little too late in my opinion. The Yahoo comments show how easy it is for people to turn to antisemitism. 1,900 people managed it quite comfortably.

These cases are a dangerous example of churnalism and one with frightening consequences.

COMMENTS

Joe Millis

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 11:49

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Canine Horror, as they say in the classics, eh?


Advis3r

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 13:05

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Unfortunately again the genie was let out and it is going to be very hard to return it.
I was alerted to a story on the Christian Science Monitor website which basically was a light hearted reprimand to the news media which slavishly reproduced this story without having checked the facts.
That didn't stop a bunch of raving bigots posting the dirty Jew comments in all their various formats, complaining that the story was true but the Jews were shutting down legitimate comment since they own the media don't you know and the usual no smoke without fire comment.
if I was a lawyer advising the Rabbinical Court I would suggest suing every website that carried the story since they have all admitted guilt it would be money for old rope.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 13:11

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http://www.oyvagoy.com/2011/06/23/that-shabby-dog-story/#comments

Yet again the BBC fails to check a story derogatory to Jews and Israel, simply cutting and pasting it. It is appalling that our licence fees are paying for this patent incitement to antisemitismn from some anonymous anti-Israel creep in the BBC

As for the BBC's 'apology', it is not good enough.

As Simon Plosker says "This Editor’s blog post is buried in the depths of the BBC News website so that you can guarantee that this won’t reach nearly as many readers as the original article. ... Sorry Beeb but this is just another half-measure."

An apology for an apology ...


Joe Millis

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 13:23

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Honestly, if the BBC and Telegraph had published the same kind of nonsense about some tribe in Outer Mongolia, do you think the apology would have been any different? Jews and/or Israel aren't the centre of the universe, not everything revolves around them. Get over yourselves.
This esteemed organ has also made mistakes of the same magnitude as the shaggy dog tale, and has apologised in much the same manner. And on these here blogs we have people hurling racist and other epithets at those with whom they disagree.
Those who use big emboldened letters to demand of the Beeb that it fall to its knees and beg forgiveness while not looking at their own behaviour are indulging in rank, opportunistic hypocrisy.


Advis3r

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 14:54

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"Honestly, if the BBC and Telegraph had published the same kind of nonsense about some tribe in Outer Mongolia, do you think the apology would have been any different?"
Ah but there's the difference your British bigot wouldn't care a hoot about outer Mongolia and there would be nary a comment on the story but if it's the Jooz what did it more opportunity to voice your bigotry and unfortunately worse.


Joe Millis

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 16:14

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Not necessarily. If it had happened anywhere else, it's unlikely the error would have been spotted and, therefore, no apology would have been forthcoming. I do wish that some people would look beyond their dalet amot and see that there's a big world out there that isn't interested at all about Israel, Jews etc. We aren't a special case.
Every medium makes mistakes. Most honest and decent ones, including this one, apologise.
Those media are not responsible for the below the line comments of a deranged few any more than the JC is responsible for the comments of those who post on these blogs. It's different, of course, if those media choose to pre-moderate. If they don't, or if we think it breaches any law or moderation policy, what we can do is press the equivalent of their "flag as offensive" button and thank them when they take action.


Jonathan Hoffman

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 16:32

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Great that you defend journalists who publish falsehoods demonising Israel and Jews....

Anyone who has followed you here would not be in the least surprised.


JonOtway

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 16:40

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ok that is the inaccuracy what is the truth ?


Joe Millis

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 16:43

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Nice try, Jonathan, at erecting a straw man, but I am not defending journalists who defend falsehoods. I am saying that all media make mistakes about all kinds of subjects. Take a look at the Alderman page in the JC - there are usually corrections and apologies at the bottom of the letters' column. Most media publish apologies, as the Telegraph and the BBC have done here. And most are not responsible for BTL comments, which as anyone who has followed you knows can be sometimes quite strange, quite angry and splenetic, to put it very mildly indeed.
I was also pointing out that had the initial false report come from somewhere else, let's say Outer Mongolia or deepest, darkest Amazonia, it's very unlikely that any correction or apology would have been made.
Let's not forget also that the source of the BBC and Telegraph story were two Israeli newspapers.
To make a big deal out of an apology if it doesn't meet some exacting standards just because it refers to Israel and/or Jews is quite hypocritical and opportunistic.


Joe Millis

Thu, 06/23/2011 - 16:44

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Had they not published an apology, you might have had a case, however...


Advis3r

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 09:49

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The problem here is that they think that giving an apology absolves them from the fall out - increased and false negative views of Jews which feeds on the anti-Semitism which is already out there.


Joe Millis

Fri, 06/24/2011 - 10:31

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Advis3r, they've apologised and issued a correction, which is probably more than they would have done had the story come from Outer Mongolia or the deepest, darkest parts of the Amazon.
It no more feeds anti-Semitism than the postings of some of the right-wingers here feed Islamophobia, homophobia or any other prejudice. The below-the-line comments are the same as you see here sometimes. That's one of the drawbacks of t'interwebby.

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