BBC says it won't use "anti-Semitism" because the word is... too long?!

Apparently the word "anti-Semitism" is too complicated or too long for the BBC to use, says an e-mail from the News Online complaints team...

by The Commentator on 16 April 2013 22:50

The BBC recently reported the story of the Labour Lord who was suspended for claiming that Jews were responsible for his imprisonment after driving offences. 

The Labour peer was jailed for sending a text message shortly before his car was involved in a fatal crash. He later said that Jewish owners of "newspapers and TV channels" had put pressure on the court.

Many queried the BBC's reporting of the incident at the time. In fact, the odd headline, "Labour peer Lord Ahmed suspended after 'Jewish claims'" is still currently live. Instead of using "anti-Semitism", the Beeb opted for "Jewish claims", making the story seem like there were claims by Jewish people leading to Lord Ahmed's suspension.

Call it clumsy journalism, intentional stupidity, whatever you want - it doesn't explain the following e-mail exchange that one reader of The Commentator had with the BBC complaints team. Check it out:

READER: Labour peer Lord Ahmed suspended after 'Jewish claims' - What jewish claims? there were no 'jewish claims' - it was antisemitism. The EUMC Working Definition of antisemitism clearly states that one of its manifestations is: “Making mendacious, dehumanizing, demonizing, or stereotypical allegations about Jews as such or the power of Jews as collective — such as, especially but not exclusively, the myth about a world Jewish conspiracy or of Jews controlling the media, economy, government or other societal institutions.” Racism isnt 'anti-black' - call it what it is: ANTISEMITISM.

BBCThanks for your email and please accept our apologies for the delay in replying. We try and stick as closely as possible to the words used, so, in this case we  used 'Jewish claims' in the short space available for headlines to summarise his comments.

READERThanks for your reply, but with all due respect that is utter nonsense. 'Jewish claims' 13 characters. 'Antisemitism' 12 characters. Plus one look at the space available in the headline within the URL will tell you that there is/was PLENTY of space to report factually. To say that the misleading and inaccurate headline was due to space available is provably wrong This is not an acceptable response . Please explain as I am considerably unhappy at the dishonest response you have provided.

Well, said reader is still awaiting a response to his second e-mail. But it strikes us as incredibly bizarre that the BBC would seek to defend its editorial decision on the basis that "Jewish claims" was more to the point, and in some way shorter than "anti-Semitism" to describe what Lord Ahmed had engaged in.

Well, I suppose we'll have to help them out a little. Here's the title, as it should be: "Labour peer Lord Ahmed suspended after anti-Semitism".


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