The truth about Guantanamo: the news that's not fit to print

Some American and Australian media have picked up the significance of a report by Alain Grignard of the OSCE. Grignard is also a top Belgian police official.

He concluded: "At the level of the detention facilities, it is a model prison, where people are better treated than in Belgian prisons".

The story has been picked up in some media in continental Europe. That is reasonable. The OSCE is an important European organisation with considerable expertise in this area. But, so far, little or no coverage in the UK. This is despite the story running on Reuters, a British owned newswire service.

Searching for Grignard's name on the BBC website today (09 March) produced zero matches. CNN the same. Well, most people accept that both these broadcasters have a left, and specifically anti-Bush agenda. So perhaps this is not surprising.

But no matches also on FT.com, The Times or The Daily Telegraph. How much coverage would there have been if the report on Guantanamo had been negative? Searching for 'Guantanamo' on the BBC website produces 57 pages of matches. Considerable priority is given to the opinions of the Archbishop of Canterbury, who has not been there, and none to the opinions of Alain Grignard who has.

Of course, it is possible to argue that the main media bias is in favour of a good story. This is an argument I frequently advance. Usually, a headline of "US treating people fairly decently" would not be much of a story. But in this case, the argument does not stand up. Given the quantity of media coverage so far, any contrary view is newsworthy. Especially if that view is expressed by someone with actual facts and expertise in the subject matter.

So, who is responsible at the BBC? Is this just poor newsgathering, or was there an editorial decision taken that British citizens do not deserve this news?

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