The Independent just announced that British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) would be running an apology worldwide for airing documentaries produced by a public relations firm.  The anticipated apology resulted from last year’s reporting in The Independent on this pecuiar BBC practice.  A special committee investigated and confirmed the news fixing process.

“The BBC will today apologise to an estimated 74 million people around the world for a news fixing scandal, exposed by The Independent, in which it broadcast documentaries made by a London TV company that was earning millions of pounds from PR clients which it featured in its programming.”  The Independent, Feb 11

Sweet!  The PR firm got a big payday from its clients, the nation of Malaysia for example, to produce the client-friendly documentaries.  Then, the firm sold the documentaries to BBC for a nominal fee.  The client state gets the publicity it wants, packaged for maximum effect, and BBC gets low cost content.

Just before The Independent took it’s victory lap for nailing BBC, the paper ran this scandalous headline.

Assad’s slaughter of the innocents — Newborn babies are among the latest victims of the Syrian government’s brutal assault on Homs

“…clear evidence emerged that his indiscriminate shelling of the restive town had started claiming innocent victims, including at least 18 premature babies and three entire families.’  The Independent Feb 9

The Syrian government forces are certainly not innocents and have killed a few, no doubt.  But now it’s a slaughter of innocents, babies.  That sounds awfully familiar.  It should for those of us who remember the run up to Gulf War I.  Recall that passionate speech about Iraqi troops throwing babies out of incubators after conquering Kuwait.  More babies.  Of course, the story was a total fabrication.

Kuwaiti Babies Torn from Incubators by Iraqi Invaders Oct 10, 1990

“I volunteered at the al-Addan hospital,” Nayirah said. “While I was there, I saw the Iraqi soldiers come into the hospital with guns, and go into the room where . . . babies were in incubators. They took the babies out of the incubators, took the incubators, and left the babies on the cold floor to die.” … [The daughter of the Kuwaiti ambssador to the United States, Nayirah was not in Kuwait when Iraq invaded.  The testimony was a lie.  It was widely covered by U.S. media, thanks to the story creators PR firm Hill & Knowlton] PRWatch

But maybe that Syrian story is true.  What about the pictures?  They started showing up in the summer and were supposedly provided by those on the scene.  Forty babies died in a Syrian government attack on the city of Hama where the government blew up hospital generators causing the deaths.   The photograph here at an anti Syrian government website in July 2011 sure looks like an exact match for this photograph from an Egyptian newspaper, al Badil,  in April 2007.   This information comes from the folks at ei Blogs Media Watch.

Maybe I’m just being cynical.  Just because dead babies are a time honored tradition of war propagandists, just because they were used by the neocons to justify Gulf War I, and just because dead Syrian babies showed up in the summer and got hauled out now when the get-Syria enterprise is tanking - well, that is probably no reason to doubt The Independent.    But I must.  The Independent is a flack for the junior partner in the failed Empire Project.


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