BBC – Habitually downplays Iran

Looking at Iran, I have noticed a particular trend. The ever present downplaying of the nuclear threat.

Every few weeks or so another expert or official will give another estimate on the time frames envisioned for Iran to develop nuclear weapons. I’ve noticed that the BBC will go to great length to extend this estimate, highlight the high end of it, or simply ignore entirely those estimates it feels I assume put too much heat on Iran. Looking at today, there’s an example of the "stretching" aspect:

Negroponte unveils his US official estimate

John Negroponte is the US national Director of Intelligence, in other words he’s the head spook and I say that in an endearing way. He was interviewed by BBC Radio, so they are the actual SOURCE of the story. Here’s how they title and frame his comments:

Iran bomb ‘within next 10 years’

Iran is determined to have a nuclear weapon and could possess one within 10 years, according to the top US intelligence chief.

Director of National Intelligence John Negroponte told BBC Radio’s Today programme Tehran could have a nuclear bomb ready between 2010 and 2015. [...]

Now, I noticed this because I had read the story at two other places, and the titles and header were quite different, much shorter in the time frame highlights..

Let’s look at the BBC which states and highlights the super high end of the estimate, within ’10 years’ they report. Now I don’t know about you but 2006 is about halfway done, and negroponte’s statement matter of factly claims that in his informed view Iran is capable of having nuclear weapons by 2010 to 2015. Last time I checked 2010 was less than 4 years away, and Negroponte’s high end is less than 9 years away.

10 doesn’t factor whether you look high or low, but I guess it is convenient for the BBC to make it seem as though this threat is a big decade away at the minimum should you not inform yourself, other than a glance at the headlines and headers which is common for most readers not obsessed with planetary threats.

No Big Deal

So sure, the BBC is not lying, just twisting Negroponte’s words a bit and highlighting the time frames they might prefer you hear, as opposed to what Negroponte actually said. let’s peek at the competing UK Daily Telegraph, one of the largest UK Daily for their header on the same story, which cites the BBC Radio interview as its source.

A day after world powers agreed a plan to confront Iran, America’s top intelligence official has warned that the pariah state could have a nuclear bomb within four years.

John Negroponte, the director of national intelligence, said Iran – which has refused to suspend its uranium enrichment programme – could be a nuclear threat by 2010. [...]

There’s 4 years, which jives more with the math above. So is the editor of the BBC story an idiot unable to do simple math, or a really smart guy or chick with an Iranian sweet spot and the need to downplay the Iranian threat? Sure the wording, twisting and message is subtle, but that’s exactly how it is supposed to be, otherwise you’d probably notice that you are being turned into an ignorant uninformed boobhead by using the BBC for your news.

BBC – Don’t worry, be happy.
Spread some slight disinformation and label it news!

Of course, such an individual might strenuously argue against any measures to deal with Iran now, since according to the head US spook himself, Iran is ten years away from any potential threat even possibly materializing, despite the fact that Negroponte feels such an event might be as near as 3.5 years away and requires immediate attention.

As a side note, yesterday many news outlets led a story about Iran’s reaction to American offers of talks. The BBC headline was ‘Iran cool to US offer’, the other headlines I saw were more informative, ‘Iran calls US offer Propaganda’, or ‘Iran rejects US offers’ etc, just another day at the boob, er beeb.

[tags]BBC, Media, Iran[/tags]

  • Since "4-9 years is less than 10 years" is sufficient justification, why don’t they just say "within 50 to 100 years?"  They seem to be carefully calibrating what they can get away with.   Reminds me of the stores that offer discounts of "up to 50%," which to me makes only one verifiable assertion – that you will not find a discount of more than 50% in the store; it promises nothing.

  • haha… You are unbelievably correct Gavriel, I didn’t look at it in that way. May as well indeed, those bbc brit bastards – imho out of control.