Six BBC reporters taken off air as probe launched over pro-Palestine tweets

Nov 21, 2023 by

from Financial Times:

Guardian decides not to renew contract of veteran cartoonist Steve Bell after image featuring Israeli PM was pulled.

The BBC has taken six reporters in the Middle East off air and launched an investigation into posts on social media that seemed to support activities of Hamas against Israel. The broadcaster has strict rules on impartiality, which cover its reporters’ activities on social media.

Posts that were tweeted or liked by BBC News Arabic reporters, including those based in Egypt and Lebanon, appeared to support Palestine or criticise the position of Israel. The BBC has now taken all six off air, though they have not been formally suspended, pending an urgent investigation into their activities as BBC employees.

In a statement, the BBC said: “We are urgently investigating this matter. We take allegations of breaches of our editorial and social media guidelines with the utmost seriousness, and if and when we find breaches we will act, including taking disciplinary action.”

All the posts have been taken down, but media reports suggest that one reporter liked a message that appeared to describe Hamas, the Palestinian militant movement that attacked Israel nine days ago, as “freedom fighters”.

The move to name the journalists by some media outlets has raised concerns over their safety while the investigation is carried out. The broadcaster has already faced questions over its position on Hamas from politicians demanding changes to its editorial policy on calling the group militants rather than terrorists. Downing Street on Monday again questioned the BBC’s stance, saying the word “terrorists” was appropriate given that the group’s recent attack on Israel was the third most deadly terrorist attack since the 1970s.

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See also: BBC’s own ex-exec demands inquiry over ‘bias’ in Israel-Hamas coverage: ‘It’s long overdue!’  by George Bunn, GB News

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