The Today programme, renowned for its liberal bien pensant views, went beyond the pale yesterday. It’s airing of a ‘justificatory’ recording of barbaric ‘executioner’ Jihadi John, followed by a prime time interview with his former advocate and current apologist, took the biscuit. It was not just bad, but objectionable and egregious.
It marked a total collapse of editorial standards and responsibility. 12 year olds might as well have been editing the programme.
Of course, I am unfair. 12 year olds would have baulked at giving a platform to a mad murderer’s mate. The Today editors did not. Either they fell for what they believed to be a news scoop, or their PC multicultural values persuaded them that the Director of CAGE, Asim Qureshi, deserved that same sort of airtime and platform accorded a democratically elected politician – but with fewer interruptions.
For anyone who managed to miss the news over recent days CAGE is the ‘charity’ (funded by Joseph Rowntree and the Anita Roddick Foundation to the tune of hundreds and thousands of pounds) that ‘works to empower communities impacted by the War on Terror’. And work it has – far too closely for comfort – with several of those convicted of terrible crimes here and abroad, all in the name of their human rights.
Over the last few days, since the unmasking of Jihadi John, Qureshi and pals have taken to the airwaves – courtesy of the BBC and Sky – to sing his praises (begging the question too of how long have they’ve suspected or known his identity) and to present him as the loveliest of guys. They express no remorse for their association with him; to the contrary they blame the establishment for ‘creating him’.
Like Richard Littlejohn, I questioned “the wisdom of Sky News and the BBC giving these sick cranks the best part of an hour’s live, uninterrupted airtime to spout their vile propaganda.”
But while one mistake may be regarded as a misfortune a second is indeed careless.
I would have thought the BBC would have then exercised caution. But how naïve could I be? Given “access to audio believed to be of Mohammed Emwazi, thought to be the IS terrorist Jihadi John, talking about being asked questions by UK and Dutch security services at Schipol airport after being refused entry to Tanzania in 2009”, could the BBC resist it? No. Did they stop to ask whether ‘being given access’ to it so easily smelt fishy? It seems not.
Never mind that the person ‘giving them access’ was none other than the very same smooth talking Asim Qureshi or that the interview is one he himself conducted. What a coup! What a scoop!
Is nothing about propaganda written in the BBC guidelines?
They accepted the recording with open arms and aired it on Qureshi’s terms – giving him a subsequent ten minute prime time platform on which to pontificate, justify himself, justify the growth of terrorism as a protest against the (democratic) West (we are not exactly living under a Gaddafi or a Saddam Hussein) and to condemn and blame the security services (the BBC would approve of that) who have the challenging task of protecting us all from the likes of Jihadi John.
Notably no member of the security services was invited on to comment on this bit of specious propaganda, nor indeed was any other expert commentator – whether the BBC’s own Frank Gardner or a pundit like Con Coughlin.
No, we had Mr. Qureshi’s propaganda uninterrupted except for the odd limp interjection of Ms. Mishal Husain. Why Today’s least competent interviewer was given the job of grilling the singularly manipulative Mr. Qureshi is another question.
Perhaps in their naïve liberal half witted way (thanks to Rod Liddle for this aphorism) the editors thought her appropriate because she is herself Muslim.
Whatever her other presenting and reporting accomplishments, Mishal fell very short of giving Qureshi a hard time.
All she seemed able to say was that Mr. Henning’s brother would find what he said offensive. I have no doubt he did. So why expose him to this further gratuitous gall?
Why allow Qureshi to exploit the ‘Je suis Charlie Hebdo’ British liberalism that allows satire (yes that was one excuse) and him to cause offence – young Asim is very British you see. I beg to disagree – he has little grasp of democratic values, freedom or what constitutes citizenship in a society run to these rules. But Ms. Husain did not. She failed to accuse him of exploiting the freedom he is given here for undemocratic (and worse) ends.
And not one word from James Naughtie either. Shame on him.
The fact is that, as Rod Liddle has argued, far “from being alienated and estranged, Mohammed Emwazi’s murderous view of the world was at least tolerated. He had our connivance. In that sense, the people from CAGE are right: we are at least partly to blame.”
No more so than the BBC, who are still conniving.