Last night I watched an episode of Panorama about the tragic story of the 219 Nigerian schoolgirls abducted by the Islamic militants Boko Haram. It’s now over a year since they went missing.
While watching the disturbing report I noticed the presenter, Tulip Mazumdar, refer to ISIS as “the so-called Islamic State”. This reminded me of David Cameron’s words on Sunday. He specifically criticised the BBC for referring to the organisation as Islamic State and not “so-called Islamic State”, ISIL or even Daesh. I did find it a little suspect that he’d singled out the BBC for criticism, and yet here was the BBC doing exactly what he’d claimed they weren’t. Being broadcast only the day after his comments, I find it hard to imagine that the Panorama episode was influenced by his words.
I was intrigued as to whether he was justified in singling out the BBC. I decided to do my own unscientific poll of other news organisations to see how they’ve been referring to the group. I looked up articles about the Kurd’s taking of Tal Abyad a couple of weeks ago. Sure enough the Telegraph, Daily Mail, Guardian and the Mirror all referred to them as Islamic State. Only the Independent didn’t. The Sun didn’t’ have an article about it that I could find (it’s only focus appears to be celebrities). The Daily Express also didn’t have an article about it, but published an article today with Islamic State in the headline.
I wonder why Cameron decided to single out the BBC for criticism? Was it simply an off the cuff remark? Or was it something more insidious? Could it be that when he recently said “I’m going to close them down after the election” he wasn’t joking after all? Is this simply the early stages of a campaign to discredit, undermine and ultimately destroy the BBC? I hope that by the time we have a conclusive answer it isn’t too late.