After last week's protests, the BBC interviewed Jody McIntyre - a young political activist who's been pulled out of his wheelchair by the police. You can read Jody's own account of the protest here, and watch the interview below:
Sadly, this is representative of most of the mainstream media throughout the protests. Much respect is due to Jody McIntyre for holding his own very effectively against the awful interviewer, but this was such a perfect example of how bad the BBC can be at reporting this stuff that I've written a complaint. Other people have too. If you want to join in, go and fill in the form here.
Here's the text of my complaint:
The context: a man with cerebral palsy has been pulled out of his wheelchair and dragged across the concrete - twice - by police officers. These officers have given no good reason for doing this - both times, their actions appear to have been completely unprovoked.
So when the victim of these attacks - political activist and blogger Jody McIntyre - is interviewed on the BBC, you'd expect the interviewer to show a bit of respect, allow Mr McIntyre to tell his story and ask him his opinions about it. Instead, the interviewer Ben Brown launches into a bizarrely aggressive series of questions, suggesting that Mr McIntyre had somehow behaved in a threatening manner to provoke the police. From his wheelchair. Which he couldn't wheel himself. Mr McIntyre himself points out early on how ludicrous it is to suggest that he could in any way pose a physical threat to a line of armed and armoured riot police, but Brown returns to this ridiculous, accusatory line of questioning again and again.
Whenever Mr McIntyre starts talking about more useful and relevant issues such as police violence against other protesters such as Alfie Meadows; the damage that would be caused by education cuts; or the media's double standards in how they report injuries to protesters as compared to the police or the powers-that-be, Brown ignores him and keeps repeating the same offensive suggestion that McIntyre must have done something to deserve being attacked by the police. It was horribly biased reporting and completely disgusting to watch. The interviewee was not given a fair hearing and was treated as though he was the attacker rather than the victim.
On a wider note: is Mr Brown's memory really so short that he can't remember any incidents of unprovoked or unjustified police attacks on protesters (or passers-by)? Why is someone so clearly anti-protest and pro-police violence being employed as an "impartial" reporter, to report from the frontline of protests for the BBC? Does he really believe that a few youths chucking stones at riot cops' shields justifies the mass batoning of unarmed protesters, horse charges against terrified children and a twenty-year-old in hospital for brain surgery after being struck by a police officer from behind?
I would like Ben Brown to make a personal apology to Mr McIntyre for his disgraceful and unprofessional behaviour, and I would like assurances from the BBC that they will use less biased journalists than Ben Brown for their frontline protest reporting from now on.
Danny Chivers, Oxford