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Sunday, September 17, 2006

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BBC continues Taiwan deception

Says Chen Shui-bian is just a "leader" and
tens/hundreds of thousands are merely "thousands"


After three posts [1, 2, 3] and several complaints to the BBC about their harmful coverage of Taiwan, they're still at it.

The day after the 916 rally on Ketagalan Boulevard to support Taiwan's president Chen Shui-bian, another article with no byline appears, written in a style which observant readers would realize is designed to not provoke China, a country whose unelected leaders constantly behave like 3-year-olds who've just had all of their toys taken away.

Reading through the head-lie
The headline of today's imbalanced piece reads "Thousands rally for Taiwan leader." The people who won't see anything but the headline far outnumber those who will actually read the article, and that's the impression that will remain.

The subhead tells us something a bit different:
Tens of thousands of Taiwanese have taken to the streets of the capital, Taipei, in support of their embattled President, Chen Shui-bian
But there's more. The remainder of the article refers to Chen as "the president" two more times and as "Mr Chen" a total of five times.

Let X = X
Chen Shui-bian is Taiwan's president. He's the democratically-elected president of Taiwan, the nation. Hu Jintao is an unelected "leader" of a country ruled by authoritarians. Shih Ming-teh is an unelected leader of a mob that wants to use extralegal means to "depose" President Chen (see how easy it is to type?), despite having legal means at his disposal. Even school children can be "class leaders."

Titles have meaning. If you called your physician Mr./Ms. Chen instead of Dr. Chen (or whatever his/her surname actually is), he or she would naturally feel strange. Even the infamous literary character Dr. Jekyll is addressed with either the appropriate title or none at all, but never as "Mr. Jekyll."

How many "thousands" is 100,000? I'm sure even the editors at BBC could answer that. While 100,000 is still a number of thousands, words mean things, context changes meaning, and care should be exercised by media professionals.

Even if we go with the figure of 60,000 provided by police [NOTE: Sunday's Taipei Times tells us that police "refused to offer any figure" and "that from now on it would not release such statistics."], the BBC headline downplays what happened in reality. If we read further, the article diminishes the importance of Saturday's pan-green rally by making a comparison to the red-shirted rallies the previous day in which people were mobilized by the Shih camp.

The numbers apparently are important to some people.

The BBC doesn't even let us see with our own eyes how many people were there. In the image accompanying their article, you can count 2-1/2 faces and a single hand from each of two more people. Therefore, we can only see five people in the photo. Sunday's Taipei Times gives us a much better photo, although they make the exact same "mistake" with the numbers in their head-lie. (I bet a computer program could do a decent job of telling us how many people are in such a photo.)

Each time they report about demonstrations, instead of playing games with the numbers, why not offer the readers a photograph that shows as much of the crowd as possible -- like from a helicopter -- and let us determine the numbers for ourselves? Could it be that they have ulterior motives?

Misunderstood characters: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Cross-posted at It's Not Democracy, It's A Conspiracy!

Labels: , , , , , , ,

13 Comments:

At 1:04 PM, Blogger Luffi said...

I wonder if BBC is trying to undermine the president and Taiwan's government purposely.

KMT Chairman Ma visited UK late 2005 ... Maybe KMT bribed the KMT lol.

Though, I thought the host of Hardtalk gave Ma a hard time.

 
At 6:01 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Something I am cofused about.
Correct me if I am wrong, but how can this deception be for the benefit of China when they re banned there. At least thats what I heard.

Still I am with you that actual title and facts are important.

 
At 12:42 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No to Taiwan independence!
No to communist China!
Yes to a united, free and democratic China comprising mainland, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Maccau!!!

 
At 1:46 AM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 1:41 AM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

[Lemme try that again.]

The first anonymous wrote:

- - -
how can this deception be for the benefit of China when they re banned there. At least thats what I heard.
- - -

Don't believe everything you hear. If you're saying the BBC is "banned" in China, you might be thinking about this news story*, which is an example of China censoring the BBC when they reported something China didn't like. In other cases, the BBC may be censoring itself just like the New York Times does with its policy that says "Taiwan is not to be referred to as a country or a nation or even an island nation, except in a quoted comment by a person being interviewed." You might want to ask why calling Taiwan a country is so "bad" that they needed to write a policy to prevent it.

People around the world get their information and form opinions based on things they "learn" from the news. Harmful lies and misinformation are constantly being spread about Taiwan, and we need to pay attention both to who's doing it and why.

As for the first commenter, I think Luffi meant to say "Maybe the KMT bribed the BBC," right?

Not likely. Ma Ying-jeou came across as poorly prepared to face someone who would actually challenge his questions. "Hardtalk" host Stephen Sackur did a fairly decent job, as I recall, of making Ma shit in his pants (though Michael thought Ma made a stronger effort than I thought).

I don't know how Sackur did it, but his interview stood out because it was an exception to the norm. Now we have people like Caroline Gluck writing articles that merely repeat what Shih and his team say without question. I've exchanged e-mails with people from the BBC a couple of times already and told them where their "mistakes" are, but they continue to repeat them exactly, so it's pretty hard to think it's anything but on purpose. I'm not holding my breath waiting for them to change.

To the second anonymous (ostensibly from Hong Kong or Singapore):
Yes to dissenting comments backed up by logic, facts, and/or common sense!
No to sending the exact same comment 4 times!
Yes to getting your own blog where you can repeat yourself all day and spuriously annex all the sovereign nations you want!

Tim Maddog

* NOTE: I Googled [BBC "banned in China"]. The link from the Wikipedia page to that article (my link above bearing the words "this news story") reads "Banned in China," but the linked article itself doesn't use the word "ban" at all.

 
At 5:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly, BBC is not the only media doing this.

There are many other news agents (i.e. The Times) trying to avoid any political events in Taiwan.
Even more upsetting, these medias are so not wanting to annoy China in any way that humanity and ethics are no longer their concerns when it comes to do with Taiwan.

Taiwan seems to be a 'forgotten' and 'isolated' island standing on her own feet trying to survive and fight for democracy.

I understand that many countries have tried to do business with China. But, do they not feel the potential threat China brings to the world?

It is just unfortunate that obviously Taiwan will be the first democratic nation to be sacrificed.

If Taiwan will have to pay the price for democracy one day, not too long, there will be other countries 'claimed' by China as its territory in an implicit manner, as it had done to Taiwan (but in an explicit and rude way).

Could someone answer me this question, 'is there justice in the world?'

 
At 5:44 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Anonymous #3 left the same comment twice, so I deleted the duplicate.

To reply...

I am quite aware that the BBC isn't the only media outlet telling lies about Taiwan. I merely spotted a whole slew of what appear to be purposeful evasions of the truth and pointed them out for the world to see.

Tim Maddog

 
At 10:11 AM, Blogger Luffi said...

Sorry Maddog, I did mean KMT bribed BBC.

I am sure Ma was well brief'd by by his boys on what to expect in the interview, but he's just no good for it. Ma was pumped up the Stephen Sackur because he never challenged in Taiwan, where most media see him as... like their own spoil child? lol

 
At 10:55 PM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Luffi, thanks for verifying that for me. Whenever the pan-blue media fawns over Ma (in order to promote KMT propaganda), just say "放屁!"

Tim Maddog

 
At 8:28 PM, Anonymous will said...

Called A Bian "President", mixed in with "Mr Chen", is not unusual, this is normal British reporting style - go and look at other articles in the UK press and on the Net, you will see plenty of reference to Mr Blair and Mr Bush as well "the Prime Minister" and "the President"...

 
At 10:18 PM, Anonymous distichum2@yahoo.com said...

The editor of the BBC's "have your say" called me regarding a comment I had sent about Ms. Gluck's articles.

He specifically asked me about the question I raised in my written comment about the possibility that the BBC's coverage of Taiwan events was being directly or indirectly influenced by pressure applied by Chinese diplomats. His question went something like, "Do you really see BBC news as being driven by sinister plots?"

Apparently, he found my comment amusing.

Perhaps the fact that BBC coverage of Taiwan news is as sporadic and shallow as it is, is itself evidence that Beijing's indirect pressure is working.

China's strategy has succeeded when one of the most-respected news organization in the world shows that it considers Taiwan to be a non-issue, not worthy of devoting adequate time and resources to.

 
At 5:07 AM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Will wrote:
- - -
...look at other articles in the UK press and on the Net, you will see plenty of reference to Mr Blair and Mr Bush as well "the Prime Minister" and "the President"...
- - -

Thanks for using an actual identifier. We have entirely too many people going by the name of "anonymous" around here.

I have read the British press for quite some time, but something I wrote in this post bears repeating:
- - -
context changes meaning
- - -

The "Mr Chen" references wouldn't be worthy of comment if the context didn't include news organizations which have policies telling reporters not to call Taiwan a nation or a country. Unfortunately, that's not the case.

I appreciate the fact that you think I'm being excessively picky, but in case anyone missed the remaining context, it comprised a total of four posts on the BBC's deceptive reporting about Taiwan. (The links to the first three posts are in the first sentence of this post.)

Thanks for reading and commenting nonetheless.

Responding to distichum2, I'm curious how you replied to the caller's silly question. I probably would have said "Yes. Can you truthfully tell me that they're not?" If he made such a claim, I'd ask why they repeatedly echoed the claims of the anti-Chen crowd without challenging them.

If you said anything like you did in the last two sentences of your comment, I'd bet he was shocked.

Please let us know more about this.

Tim Maddog

 

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