Thursday, August 21, 2014

BBC's Jon Donnison loses what little credibility he still had

On July 25, Jon Donnison of the BBC tweeted

This became a sensation, spawning articles about how Israel knew that Hamas leaders knew nothing about the kidnapping and used it as an excuse to start a war.

BBCWatch contacted Mickey Rosenfeld, who replied that he said nothing about a lone cell:
“I said and confirmed what is known already, that the kidnapping and murder of the teens was carried out by Hamas terrorists from the Hebron area and the security organizations are continuing to search for the murderers.”
Donnison stood by his story despite his source saying it wasn't true.

Yesterday, after a Hamas leader admitted that the kidnapping was carried out by their Al Qassam Brigades, Eyal Ben Cohen asked Donnison if he would apologize for clearly being wrong and starting a completely false meme, linking to a Times of Israel story about the revelation. Here was Donnison's response:

He is referring to an episode where a blogger at Times of Israel posted a stupid article that the site took down within minutes, condemned it and discontinued that blogger's right to post.

Donnison knows very well that it was a blog post, not a newspaper article. And he also knows very well that the Times of Israel was not the source of the story, but Arabic websites reported it first and video is available.

The dishonesty of this supposed journalist is breathtaking.

As people piled on asking him to explain himself, instead of defending his reporting or apologizing, Donnison retweeted people calling him an antisemite and highlighted those to discredit the legitimate criticism of his dishonesty that most people were complaining about.

Instead of addressing the issue, Donnison insulted one of his most credible and intelligent critics:

This is another deflection. It is also a bit sexist - what exactly disqualifies a woman from making accurate criticisms of the BBC? Anyone who reads BBCWatch knows that it is anything but sensationalist. There is no hysteria at BBCWatch and they transparently bring proof for everything they write - quite unlike Jon Donnison.

Donnison is scared of the truth and is working overtime to change the subject. This is not how a journalist is supposed to act, and it shows far more about Donnison than about his critics.

This is not the first time that Donnison reported based on his bias rather than the facts. He was the one who insisted that the son of fellow BBC employee Jihad Mishrawi was killed by an Israeli missile, even after the UN and Gaza NGOs admitted that he was killed by a Hamas rocket.

As I mentioned in my talk last week, reporters seem to think that they maintain credibility by sticking to their stories and lose  credibility by admitting their mistakes. The opposite is the case. Everyone makes mistakes; the question is whether you admit it or whether you stubbornly choose to pretend that all the criticisms are some sort of conspiracy to be dismissed out of hand. People forgive honest mistakes; but piling lie upon lie and attacking the critics rather than addressing the criticism is a sure way to lose people's respect.

Donnison has made clear how he reacts to being proven wrong. The question is why the BBC keeps someone like this around while they claim that their stories and reporters are unbiased.