The media and Islam – another ‘balanced’ discussion

On Radio 4’s “The Message” last Friday there was yet another example of the media’s incapacity to provide a balanced discussion of their own unbalanced depiction of Islam.

More4  News editor David Mapstone and media commentator Stephen Glover were brought in as media experts. And who did the BBC settle on to represent a Muslim viewpoint? Yes, you guessed it, they chose Islamism’s answer to Whittaker Chambers, Ed Hussain, who asserted that the “bandying around of this terminology of Islamophobia” is used to “shut down debate”. Husain assured listeners that the British media “bended over backwards to ensure that it doesn’t really offend most Muslims”.

Stephen Glover, for his part, took up the case of the discredited Channel 4 documentary “Undercover Mosque”. Did he raise this issue in order to express concern about media distortion of Islam? Don’t be silly, of course he didn’t. According to Glover, “what is worrying about this story is that having looked into it the police and the Crown Prosecution Service have referred the programme to OfCom on the basis that it manipulated the facts … so we have the media going out to find what is happening in some mosques, it does so, and it is criticised – unjustly I believe – for what it does”.

Let us recall that CPS lawyer Bethan David, who examined 56 hours of footage of which only short extracts were used in the programme, stated unequivocally that: “The splicing together of extracts from longer speeches appears to have completely distorted what the speakers were saying.”

Media “expert” Stephen Glover thus joins the likes of the Sun, Leo McKinstry, Dean Godson, Carol Gould, Adrian Morgan and the British National Party in rejecting the findings of the CPS. None of them, of course, has actually seen the footage on which the CPS based its criticism of “Undercover Mosque”. But never let facts get in the way of anti-Muslim prejudice, eh?

Even David Mapstone – who was prepared to concede that the media give disproportionate coverage to isolated extremists like Omar Brooks, and that organisations like the Muslim Council of Britain do have “representational legitimacy” – asserted that “good, high quality” television documentaries about Islam have been broadcast … featuring notorious Islamophobes like John Ware, Martin Bright and Richard Littlejohn.