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Sunday, October 01, 2006

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BBC strikes again

I was talking with a friend erudite in affairs Taiwan yesterday, and he confessed that after many years of watching the way the foreign media consistently misrepresents Taiwan, he was terrified that all nations are similarly mis-presented to the outside world by the international media, a fear I have often felt myself. There are some exceptions, including yesterday's fairly good article by K. Bradsher in the NY Times, but on the whole the foreign media just can't get Taiwan right.

The latest example of the foreign media's flatpeter approach to Taiwn is the most recent BBC piece on the Chen recall motion by Caroline Gluck, who actually lives in Taipei, and should know better. Gluck's previous work on the pro-Blue protests against the President was absolutely awful, and there was an avalanche of complaints from locals about both its factual errors and its breathless acceptance of everything that the protest leadership claimed. Here again Gluck presents only the shallowest of surface information, when a sentence or two could have clarified and enriched the presentation for the reader. She begins:

One of Taiwan's opposition parties has submitted a new parliamentary motion to try to force the island's president, Chen Shui-bian, to step down.

The opposition People's First Party called on him to resign over a series of corruption allegations surrounding his family and aides.

The move comes after more than two weeks of mass street protests against the president.

The problem with writing like this is that one is constantly forced to ask: is Gluck malicious, or merely incompetent? At this late date, with both local and foreign reporters noting that the protesters are "heavily nationalist", and with ample evidence on that score, you'd have to be highly ignorant to write that there are "mass street protests" against the President. That is a substantial misrepresentation of reality: the "mass street protests" are actually orchestrated pan-Blue attacks on the President. For some reason other foreign reporters (Kathrin Hille, Stephan Grauwels, and Keith Bradsher) have had no trouble finding out that the bulk of protesters are Blues; indeed, Bradsher got Shih to admit that in an interview. Gluck never gives the slightest indication that there might be something partisan about what's going on. Instead, the reader is invited to believe that this is a "public" protest in which ordinary people are expressing their views. That position is KMT propaganda, not fact. Wittingly or not, Gluck's article is slanted pro-KMT.

Gluck then correctly notes that the bill will not be passed. She is also aware that any move to recall Chen must be put to national referendum.

But its chances of being passed remain slim.

The opposition parties hold a small parliamentary majority, but a recall motion needs approval from two-thirds of all legislators before it can be put to a national referendum.

And a previous attempt to recall the president, in June, failed.

Then, it is right back to the pro-KMT view:

Ma Ying-jeou said it could help to end the political stalemate and street protests by giving the people of Taiwan the chance to have their voices heard through the ballot box.

It is strictly Blue propaganda to argue that the "people's voices" aren't being heard. By uncritically reporting Ma's words, Gluck also repeats the Blue claim that the "political stalemate" is due to the President's refusal to resign, rather than the Blue-controlled legislature's refusal to cooperate with the President. Without probing questioning of these claims, the reader is not in a position to evaluate them properly. Sad. Gluck then returns to the theme of "people's voices" by using the loaded term "mounting pressure."

Despite mounting pressure on him, President Chen has denied any wrongdoing and has insisted he will stay in office until his term ends in 2008.

Actually, there is no "mounting pressure." The Blues are handling their overall strategy of paralzying Taiwan and blaming Chen very well, keeping the pressure up and keeping up the pro-Blue media attacks. Regrettably too many foreign correspondents appear to be either in support of, or sourcing their stories from, the Blue side. I commend Gluck to the sturdy work of Grauwels or Bradsher, and continue to hope that the BBC will send us someone who actually knows something about Taiwan, instead of tyros who parrot KMT claims.

Last time Gluck got everything wrong, the BBC had a comment form there, and many of us wrote in to correct her errors. This time notice that the article contains no comment form (as of October 1, 12 noon Taiwan time).

6 Comments:

At 2:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

well, i guess this article is just another hotel-journalism report from BBC. If BBC reporters could move their butts around, they should know better instead of writing article in a hotel room.

To submit your comment, please visit this URL.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/newswatch/ukfs/hi/newsid_3990000/newsid_3993900/3993909.stm

 
At 4:11 PM, Blogger Poseidon206 said...

I believe BBC works with CTI in Taiwan, since CTI is the only channel that is allowed to broadcast BBC shows... Does this clear any clouded minds?

However, I still think it's still wrong to have such non-objective story to be read internationally...

 
At 7:14 PM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

I submitted a much longer critique of this article to BBC.....

Michael

 
At 1:37 AM, Blogger Tim Maddog said...

Remember what the BBC's Samanthi Dissanayake wrote to me about them wanting "to use some of the best comments and people for a longer-form piece" and being "very interested in doing some kind of piece on the political situation in Taiwan" involving "the sort of conversations [I] recommend[ed they] have with people outside Taipei." Three weeks and even more propaganda pieces later, the proof is in the pudding that they're completely full of **it.

Poseidon206's comment can be verified here:
- - -
B B C 在中天
B B C 周報 ( This week )
首播時間: 每週二 晚間 24:30
[sic]
B B C 大視野 ( Reporters )
首播時間: 每週三 晚間 24:30
[sic]
- - -

Does this mean they're getting their "news" directly from Little Bo Peep cosplayer and amateur thaumaturge Sisy Chen?

That would explain a lot! Thanks for the info, Poseidon206.

Tim Maddog

 
At 2:54 PM, Blogger Michael Turton said...

Wow! That explains A LOT! Thanks, Poseidon. Worthy of a blogpost.

Michael

 
At 2:44 PM, Blogger Poseidon206 said...

You're all very very welcome guys...

I feel so proud of myself seeing your thanks.

 

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