Thursday, 07 January 2016 11:08

Caller allowed to a 13-minute antisemitic rant on BBC Radio London

During the Simon Lederman Show, on BBC Radio London on 22 December 2015, a phone-in caller was allowed to rant about antisemitic conspiracy theories without substantial condemnation from the presenter.

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During the Simon Lederman Show, on BBC Radio London on 22 December 2015, a phone-in caller was allowed to rant about antisemitic conspiracy theories without substantial condemnation from the presenter.

The caller, introduced as “Andy from St Margaret’s”, was let ramble about the Jewish domination over the media and financial sector for 13 minutes of air time.

Although he was interrupted occasionally by the presenter, Simon Lederman, the challenges were ineffectual and there was no condemnation of the nonsense being spouted. Indeed Mr Lederman would have been justified in cutting off the caller almost from outset when ’Andy’ appeared to be ‘out of it’ from the moment he began talking.

His antisemitic tirade included statements such as: “We keep going on about the Jews… mainstream media, they keep banging on about the Jews and the Holocaust. We keep going on about six million Jews”; “They control the money, the money, finance…  80% of corporate America, of the media, is owned by Jews. And they're Zionist Jews”; “Most of the Jews of the world come from Eastern Europe, from a place called originally, an empire called Khazaria.”; “The Rothschilds, the people who own the Bank of England, the people who own the Federal Reserve, they're all Zionist Jews.” 

Although it is debatable what the best way to tackle hate speech is, let alone a definition of hate speech, several BBC Editorial Guidelines seem to have been repeatedly breached during the phone-in call:

1. Section 1: The BBC’s Editorial Values 1.3.2, which specifies that the BBC must do all they can "to ensure that controversial subjects are treated with due accuracy and impartiality";

2. Section 4: Impartiality: Controversial Subjects 4.4.8, which states that “when dealing with ‘controversial subjects’ this should be clearly signposted”;

3. Impartiality: Breadth and Diversity of Opinion 4.4.2, which states “minority views should not necessarily be given equal weight to the prevailing consensus”;

4. Impartiality: Breadth and Diversity of Opinion 4.4.4, which specifies that “responses should not be given a wider significance than they merit and we should take care not to misrepresent the relative weight of opinions expressed”.

The incident remained unnoticed by mainstream media, while Jewish organisations reported it and condemned it.

Answering to a request of comment by the Jewish Chronicle, a BBC spokesperson said that “the aim of the programme is to discuss and debate issues raised by our listeners. This was a live phone in and the caller was challenged on his views throughout the conversation.”

Within Get the Trolls Out, the Media Diversity Institute will investigate this incident and further explore on how journalists should deal with hate speech in their everyday work.

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