The Beeb are continuing to call the alleged airline terror plot AIRLINE TERROR PLOT on News 24, as if there isn't any debate about there being an airline terror plot at all. As I understand it, these men have not pleaded guilty to these offences, and deny all the charges against them. So surely there's some issue over where there was an airline terror plot or not - isn't there? I wouldn't imagine the headline WIFE'S MURDER BY HUSBAND if a man had pleaded not guilty to murdering his wife.
Yes yes I know, the jurors are sitting through the evidence rather than watching News 24 (lucky them. Have you ever tried to endure their witless 'lifestyle' features? It's like drowning in Diet Coke) but that's not the point; I thought 'accuracy' was regarded as being something important in these days of BBC Trust.
This rather petty point is somewhat put into focus by the Hate, however. Look at these two headlines about the trial and see what you can spot:
Jury shown 'chilling martyrdom' video of British Muslim accused of airliner liquid bomb plot
British Muslims 'planned to kill thousands by bringing down SEVEN transatlantic airliners in one go with liquid bombs'
These men aren't terrorist suspects. These men aren't charged with crimes. They are 'British Muslims'. What does that imply? As ever with these questions of relevance, try the test of substituting the word 'Jew' or 'Christian' or even 'Asian' for the word 'Muslim' and see whether the headline sits as comfortably on the page now. Is there something else going on here, some other agenda that has been decided; has it been decided that these men will be labelled 'British Muslims' by the Hate, and if so, why? Are these men even all practising Muslims, or just brought up in a Muslim culture in Britain? Does that make a difference? What does it imply about British Muslims?
The intro of today's story:
Several members of a gang of Islamic extremists prepared martyrdom videos as they planned a series of explosions on transatlantic passenger jets, a court heard today.
In footage shown to the jury, one alleged bomber said British citizens were too worried about England being knocked out of the World Cup to care about the struggle in the Middle East.
Defendant Umar Islam also claimed people were busy watching soaps such as Home and Away and Eastenders to care about anything.
'Islamic extremists', not 'extremists'.
Intro to the day one story:
A gang of British Muslims planned to blow up seven planes within hours in the biggest terrorist atrocity since 9/11, a court heard yesterday.
Two thousand passengers would have died in the plot by eight fanatics working "in the name of Islam", the jury was told.
It could have involved up to 18 suicide bombers. And they were almost ready to strike.
Oh, what an accident. The Mail have accidentally left off the 'the court was told' or 'it was claimed' from that last sentence. How completely accidental. How unfortunate that that sentence implies that the plot was definitely real and the men were definitely going to blow up the planes, in the course of reporting an ongoing court case. Whoops, how on earth did that get through?
So is there something going on other than simple reportage from a court case? Why are the BBC saying there was a plot when it's in dispute? Why is the Hate focusing on 'British Muslims' and making standard and completely unavoidable errors that make it sound like the plot definitely happened? I am one of those people who does believe that juries generally make up their own minds and aren't swayed by the media; I genuinely think they take it seriously, especially with such a case, and go along with instructions to ignore all outside evidence. But this case is about a lot more than just the jury. Are these articles a fair representation of what's going on, or is there some other agenda at work? I'm not sure, but I can't help thinking that these 'terror' cases are treated somewhat differently from ordinary crimes.