Craven cowardice is despicable in any news organization, but especially when it is displayed by the premier news organization of a nation that so prizes individual liberty

The BBC Disgraces Itself by Self Censoring Its reporting of Charlie Hebdo’s Latest Edition

By —— Bio and Archives--January 14, 2015

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This morning the first edition of Charlie Hebdo to hit the streets since 10 members of the staff of the French satirical weekly and 2 policemen were murdered in cold blood by Islamic fundamentalists sold out. In Paris and across France people lined up before dawn at newsagent kiosks to purchase a copy, and even the print run of over 3 million, 50 times the usual number of copies printed, was not enough to satisfy the demand.  In France, the murders have been a wake up call, and the words Je suis Charlie a rallying cry in defense of freedom of expression.

Last night, the BBC News carried an in depth story about the edition of Charlie Hebdo that hit the streets this morning.  There was film footage of news agent kiosks preparing to receive the magazine with mention of the size of the print run.  The staff of Charlie Hebdo was shown at their desks working on the edition in the offices of Liberation which has provided them with temporary quarters.  A member of the staff was interviewed about the aftermath of the murders and its impact on the those who survived the attack.

The cover of the new edition was described in detail—a cartoon of Mohammed with a tear in his eye and holding a sign which reads “Je suis Charlie.” Above him is the caption “Tout est pardonne “ [All is forgiven] which the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo intended to mean that it was the staff of the magazine that was offering forgiveness and not Mohammed.  The BBC newscaster described the cover in excruciating detail, but did the BBC show a picture of the cartoon; no it did not.  Television is a visual medium but when it came to displaying the cartoon the BBC chickened out.  Such craven cowardice is despicable in any news organization, but especially when it is displayed by the premier news organization of a nation that so prizes individual liberty.

The bureau chiefs and newscasters at the BBC need to read John Stuart Mill’s On Liberty because were Mill alive today he would be deeply embarrassed by their cowardice while Voltaire would be enormously proud of the French people who queued up to buy the latest edition of Charlie Hebdo.

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Al Kaltman -- Bio and Archives | Comments

Al Kaltman is a political science professor who teaches a leadership studies course at George Washington University.  He is the author of Cigars, Whiskey and Winning: Leadership Lessons from General Ulysses S. Grant.

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