Rogue Editor

14 03 2014

Category; Middle East, media

Jeremy-Bowen-001

© BBC

BBC Middle East Editor Jeremy Bowen has been lambasting the BBC Trust over its censure of his journalism 5 years ago. It’s interesting timing on Bowen’s part. Why bring it up now?

Does he know something? Is there a timely reason to be trying to undermine the Trust’s rulings? Here is what Bowen had to say to the Independent on Sunday (click here for full article):

He is still smarting from a controversial BBC Trust finding against him in 2009, which outraged journalists both inside and outside the BBC. He maintains that the ruling – relating to the sourcing of part of a story on Israeli settlements, following complaints by two full-time pro-Israeli lobbyists – was a “mistake” based on a “flawed” investigation process that has now been changed. “One person they took advice from who was held up as independent was later appointed as Israel’s ambassador to the United States,” he complains. The BBC Trust continues to defend its findings.

 

The BBC Trust is the body that governs the BBC. Set up under the Royal Charter, it represents the best interests of the licence-fee payer – see here.

One of its statutory functions is to set and maintain the editorial standards of the BBC, which it was doing when it upbraided Bowen. He clearly, and vocally, disagrees with them and thinks they’ve been hoodwinked by lobbyists. ( Click here for the BBC Trust Ruling, and click here for Telegraph coverage)

Let that sink in. A senior BBC Editor disagrees with the body that, sanctioned by Parliament, sets the editorial standards of the BBC. And he says so forcefully and publicly.

Bowen does not seem to appreciate that those are the rules he must work to. Full stop. He works for an organisation that has those rules, which he failed to follow. Now he is signalling that he does not see why he should be expected to follow them, or even accept the decision by the people who regulate what he does.

Is it petulance or arrogance that makes him think that it is acceptable for him to denigrate the body that regulates his work?

How can he, or the BBC, reconcile the fact he works in a senior role in an organisation where he is expected to uphold standards that he tells us he does not himself feel bound by, and feels free to dismiss proceedings that find he contravened them?

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