The BBC and the minimising of massacres

Last month a distinguished gentleman from the English upper-middle class came as close as he could to uttering an apology. In a review of Ed Vulliamy’s The War is Dead, Long Live the War (Bodley Head) John Simpson, the BBC world affairs editor, wrote: “I’m sorry now that I supported . . . Living Marxism when it was sued by ITN for questioning its reporting of the camps. It seemed to me at the time that big, well-funded organisations should not put small magazines out of business, but it’s clear that there were much bigger questions involved.” Simpson has at last admitted that moderate men of reasonable temperament can behave as badly as any fanatic.

Cheap recording technology, international travel and, above all, the profession of journalism are meant to ensure that those responsible for horrendous crimes are at least named, if not punished. The bitter history of the reporting of Trnopolje concentration camp in Bosnia shows that you can manufacture conspiracy theories as easily now as in the Middle Ages — and that journalism offers no protection against deceit.
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