BBC reminds reporters of rules around ‘controversial’ events ahead of antisemitism rally, but Pride parades were fine

The BBC, which has already faced accusations of antisemitism in recent days, has doubled down by barring its employees from attending an antisemitism rally.

Organized by the Campaign Against Antisemitism, the rally scheduled for Sunday in London is meant to be “the largest British gathering against anti-Semitism since the Battle of Cable Street in 1936,” according to The Times.

Yet BBC “staff working in news and current affairs, factual journalism and senior leaders” have all been barred from attending on the basis that “they need to adhere to the BBC’s existing guidance on attending” so-called “controversial” events.

In fairness to the BBC, the same rule has previously been applied to those within the company seeking to attend pro-Palestinian marches and rallies.

When confronted with the claim that the rule shouldn’t apply to a protest against antisemitism, the BBC’s higher-ups reportedly said the march can’t be categorized as “commemorative or celebratory” because of how “controversial” it is.

A couple of sources inside BBC were not pleased by this.

“Racism is racism and something we should all abhor — but not when it comes to anti-Jewish racism it seems. If the BBC believes that racism is racism and not acceptable in any shape or form then going on a rally against antisemitism shouldn’t be an issue,” one unnamed source within the company said.

Plus, some argue the BBC’s decision to apply the rule to the March Against Anti-Semitism contrasts with how it allowed staff members to attend Pride rallies and parades in 2020.

“Attending Pride parades is possible within the guidelines, but due care needs to be given to the guidance and staff need to ensure that they are not seen to be taking a stand on politicized or contested issues,” BBC director general Tim Davie said at the time.

“If news and current affairs staff are participating in such events they must be mindful of ensuring that they do not get involved in matters which could be deemed political or controversial,” he reportedly added.

This dichotomy has reportedly inspired accusations of “hypocrisy,” including from Leo Pearlman — co-founder of the TV, film, and music production company Fulwell 73 — who said it demonstrates a “worrying distortion of reality and underlying bias.”

“Just when one thinks the BBC cannot find a new depth of incompetence to sink to in their reporting and handling of these tragic last six weeks, they seem to have decided to draw a clear distinction between antisemitism and every other ‘ism’ with this directive to their staff,” he said to the BBC.

Meanwhile, an unnamed “prominent” BBC producer said the BBC was wrong to think its impartiality would be affected by staff members attending an antisemitism rally.

“Antisemitism is not the same as overtly political support for Palestinians. You can object to Israeli political positions and reactions but fundamentally resurrecting antisemitic tropes and Jew hatred is a completely different matter,” he said.

“You would have thought that antisemitism was pretty straightforward. The world has turned on its head,” another BBC insider reportedly said.

As for the BBC, a spokesperson issued a word-salad statement essentially doubling down on the company’s stance.

“The BBC is clear that antisemitism is abhorrent. We have established guidance around marches, which explains that different considerations apply depending on what you do for the BBC,” the spokesperson said.

“Corporately, we have not issued any staff communication on any specific march this weekend, but this does not mean discussions which consider the guidance have not taken place between colleagues,” they added.

Adding to the accusations of “hypocrisy” is the BBC’s lax attitude toward star broadcaster Gary Lineker, who as recently as last week appeared to endorse the notion that Israel has been committing “textbook genocide” in Gaza:

He also endorsed pro-Palestinian marches:

In these cases, the BBC decided to do NOTHING.

“The BBC declined to comment on Lineker’s tweet. Instead, the broadcaster pointed to its updated social media guidelines, which state that star presenters can express their views but have a ‘particular responsibility to help to balance commitments to both freedom of expression and impartiality,” according to Deadline Hollywood.

The unequal application of the BBC’s rules has been noticed by many.


Vivek Saxena


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