VIGILANT TCW reader Gerry McBride heard the BBC’s Medical Editor Fergus Walsh making a huge cock-up with his Covid-related reporting on October 21.
Walsh claimed that 66 per cent of over-80s in hospitals with Covid had not been vaccinated. His intent was clearly – in line with most of BBC’s reporting of the topic – to criticise and shame those who object to being coerced into receiving an experimental gene therapy.
Walsh stated: ’94-95 per cent of the over-80s have had both jabs, so about 6 per cent haven’t had that, but they make up two-thirds of that age group who are in hospital with Covid. So it’s extraordinarily disproportionate if you haven’t been immunised.’
There was just one problem with this. Walsh was totally wrong. The actual proportion of unvaccinated over-80s in hospital was around just 10 per cent (not ‘two-thirds’). To put it precisely, of the 1,553 over-80s admissions in the relevant week, only 134 were unvaccinated, as Mr McBride spotted:
‘I don’t have any medical qualifications nor any special ability or knowledge about statistics, other than studying statistics as a small part of a BA degree in psychology and sociology more than 30 years ago, so how come Fergus Walsh’s ‘error’ was immediately obvious to me but not to Fergus Walsh, the BBC’s Medical Editor!? It’s his job to know about these things, and it’s not my job, yet apparently neither he nor any of his team at the BBC were aware that this statistic was blatantly incorrect. What does this tell us about the standard of medical journalism at the BBC?’
Mr McBride duly submitted a complaint to the BBC. The outcome? A bit of a miracle: an admission of guilty as charged from Walsh:
‘Your complaint is absolutely spot on and I apologise for my error’, he wrote. ‘I made a genuine mistake and mis-read the figures. I agree with you that the accurate reporting of statistics around the pandemic are of great importance. I have since discussed this with the team I work with on news to reinforce fact-check.’
Scroll down for the BBC’s formal reply.
Such an admission is rare indeed from the BBC, and illustrates how crassly wrong Walsh was. There was no hiding place.
But will there be consequences? Will anyone be held to account and an apology and correction issued? If it were a newspaper they would admit and publish the correction. But not the BBC, which prides itself on its journalistic standards. It raises the question of how did such a gross error get to air? Could it possibly be that when it comes to the Covid vaccines, BBC staff never want the facts to get in the way of a good story?
This is the full reply from the BBC:
From: BBC Complaints <email@example.com>
Subject: BBC Complaints – Case number CAS-6957927-Q7T6V6
Date: 8 November 2021 at 17:43:05 GMT
To: Gerry McBride
Dear Mr McBride,
Thank you for contacting us about Newscast.
Our medical editor has asked that we communicate the below message to you:
‘Dear Mr McBride
Your complaint is absolutely spot on and I apologise for my error. I made a genuine mistake and mis-read the figures. I agree with you that the accurate reporting of statistics around the pandemic are of great importance. I have since discussed this with the team I work with on news to reinforce fact-checking.
Very best wishes, and thank you for bringing this to my attention
Medical Editor, BBC’
Thank you once again for getting in touch.
BBC Complaints Team