Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
I did watch the Newsnight programme - and thought perhaps I will have to admit that this was one of their poorer performances.

But the poor performance was yours - in fact appalling; had you been one of my students I would have suggested that a university education clearly wasn't for you.

You caricature the programme and launch into a general attack on the BBC - having admitted that you only watched a "snippet" ! In fact the intro was an obviously non-serious montage of clips from the cold war period - over a song to try to make it clear it wasn't serious.

NO wonder some BBC execs find it hard to take some criticism seriously, and why I get exasperated at some of the "criticism" here - almost blind prejudice would be more accurate.

Let me emphasize again that I AM aware of years of serious academic criticism of the BBC, and other media institutions, as well as having my own criticisms. But I try to make sure that at least I watch a whole programme before attacking it.

After the brief montage the serious part began - all 22 minutes of it ! - starting with an overview by the very smart Mark Urban, who has been doing excellent reports for years, as was this.

Then they had a report from their correspondent in Moscow on how Putin saw things and the changes in Russia which have made it more confident, even aggressive, etc.

Then they had a studio discussion with someone from the US embassy, a Russian journalist, and British historian expert on Russia, and on a link from Moscow an opponent of Putin. Kirsty Wark, also very smart, chaired it and it was an informative discussion.

It concluded with Robert Service the historian, saying that politically Putin had been brilliant; his threat had provided a smokescreen, so there had been no mention of Chechnya, press freedom in Russia, etc.

You certainly DID get complex analysis of who Putin is and what he is responding to - but you chose not to watch it.

As to your point about the T. Rex story tonight, in the rest of the Newsnight which you didn't watch, they had a piece on the loss of the rainforests and a scheme to sell acres of them to individuals who could fly in to see them - but only via Google Earth. As the organizer said, at least it's a start and it has drawn attention to the problem again. Wark was probing, but this allowed the guy to explain his scheme and the scale of the problem.

Then they had a major piece on the anniversary of the 6 Day War by the also excellent and very experienced Jeremy Bowen (I think the Israelis have complained about him, as they have about most BBC correspondents and refused to co-operate with some for a time).

 Had you watched the first "snippet" you might have thought it a bit favourable to the Israelis - but of course nobody in a serious forum like Eurotrib would judge a programme on a "snippet" - would they ?

But he then went on to say that the view of little David Israel defeating the Goliath Arabs was a myth - British and US intelligence services had predicted a quick victory, given the Israeli weaponry etc; and they ensured victory on the first day by a surprise attack destroying most of the Arab planes on the ground - not generally referred to as a day that will live in infamy, etc.  

He then had a Palestinian give their point of view particularly about Jerusalem. Then an Israeli historian, critical of Israel trying to hold on to the territory conquered: "Some sobered up in a few days, some after weeks, some took 36 years before admitting they couldn't hold on to them."

 They had an Israeli ex soldier and settler who hardly came over as sympatheic in the bit shown, when he said: "When one side wins they tell the weaker side what to do."

Then a Palestinian writer who's written a book about the effects of the settlements on his area, followed by a UN guy who's monitored the growth of the settlements and related military bases, the restricted roads, the Wall and the problems this creates for the Palestinians. Then more informed, quite critical analysis from Bowen. This was pretty typical of a lot of the Newsnight's, good, critical, thorough (about 20 minutes) reports on a major issue.

I'm sure there will be complaints from the pro-Israel lobby - but I think they will at least have watched the whole programme. Try it next time. I suggest you apologize to the BBC.

Maybe it's because I'm a Londoner - that I moved to Nice.

by Ted Welch (tedwelch-at-mac-dot-com) on Tue Jun 5th, 2007 at 06:33:48 PM EST
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