BBC Admits Errors about Iraq Deaths and Injuries
In a very discreet statement, Panorama, the BBC’s “flagship” program, expresses regret for misconstruing Iraq war figures. Essentially, when it got hold of statistics showing that 2,041 deaths and 8,542 injuries in the past six months had resulted from “military operations,” it automatically blamed them on “actions by the Coalition and Iraqi Security Forces.” Yet:
Today, the Iraqi Ministry of Health has issued a statement clarifying matters that were the subject of several conversations with the BBC before the report was published, and denying that this conclusion can be drawn from the figures relating to military operations.
It states that those recorded as killed in military action included Iraqis killed by terrorists, not only those killed by Coalition forces or Iraqi security forces; and that those recorded as killed in military action included terrorists themselves, and Iraqi security forces.
The BBC regrets mistakes in its published and broadcast reports yesterday.
I can’t say that I’m entirely surprised about the errors. But I can say that I’m encouraged to see Iraqi officials move swiftly to set the record straight. It shows that they’re very much aware of the importance of accurately portraying the situation on the ground; insurgents, after all, can use any hint of success to recruit new members. Moreover, it suggests that the government is learning to deal with the media — a crucial development for the long term, since democracy requires a healthy relationship between state and press. In this light, it’s good to note the correction just as Iraqis cast their historic votes.