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NPR Promotes Questionable Hutton Inquiry
by Peter Parker
28 Jan 2004
This listener had to turn instead to the UK Indymedia site and to The Guardian to find the other side of this breaking story. NPR has proven once again how flawed it truly is as a reliable source for news on the public airwaves
This evening's NPR news show "All Things Considered" , broadcast out of DC, delivered yet another of its skewed reports in the service of the Bush regime and the government of Tony Blair. Their report on the Hutton commission findings against the BBC regarding its news story on the Blair administration's "sexed-up" WMD findings was reminiscent of those gung-ho Iraqi invasion stories listeners had to endure last year. No where in the NPR piece did we hear a dissenting opinion on the questionable Hutton findings or any word from Andrew Gilligan, the BBC reporter who broke the original story.
This listener had to turn instead to the UK Indymedia site and to The Guardian to find the other side of this breaking story. NPR has proven once again how flawed it truly is as a reliable source for news on the public airwaves. They continue to be unprofessional, proffering one-sided public relations spin in the guise of news.
The following is but one example of the other side of this story. It comes from The Guardian:
Gilligan comes out fighting after Hutton drubbing
Wednesday January 28, 2004
Andrew Gilligan today came out fighting with a statement issued on his behalf describing Lord Hutton's report as "grossly one-sided".
He is struggling to hold on to his BBC career after Lord Hutton issued a damning criticism of his Today programme report, describing the central claim that the government had "sexed up" its dossier on Iraqi weapons of mass destruction as "unfounded".
In what amounted to a complete demolition of Gilligan's controversial report. Lord Hutton cast doubt on the "sexing up" claim and rejected as "unfounded" the allegation that the infamous 45-minute claim had been inserted at the request of the government.
However, the National Union of Journalists, which represented Gilligan, today hit out at the report's conclusions.
"Whatever Lord Hutton may think, it is clear from the evidence he heard that the dossier was 'sexed up', that many in the intelligence services were unhappy about it, and that Andrew Gilligan's story was substantially correct," said Jeremy Dear, the president of the NUJ, which is representing Gilligan.
"The report is selective, grossly one-sided and a serious threat to the future of investigative journalism".
By focusing his conclusions almost exclusively on Gilligan's unscripted 6.07am report on the Today programme on May 29, Lord Hutton has exceeded the Today reporter's worst fears.
Gilligan admitted during the inquiry he "unwittingly and unintentionally" gave listeners the wrong impression about whether the intelligence was real or made up when he said the government "probably knew" the 45-minute figure was wrong.
But he changed the wording for subsequent reports, and has always stood by the central claim that the intelligence community was unhappy about government attempts to influence the wording of the dossier.
Mr Dear said today that from Gilligan's 19 broadcasts on the morning of May 29 Lord Hutton had taken "a single sentence barely noticed at the time and has used it to condemn the entire story".
The NUJ president added Lord Hutton had "taken an unwarranted sideswipe at Andrew Gilligan's note-taking, when other reporters recorded David Kelly as saying very similar things".
In his report, Lord Hutton referred to the "uncertainties arising from Mr Gilligan's evidence", and said the two sets of notes he made of his conversation with Dr Kelly made it impossible to say for sure what had been said.
Crucially, Lord Hutton said he did not believe the dossier had been "sexed up", as Gilligan reported Dr Kelly as saying.
He said the BBC's listeners would have interpreted this to mean the "intelligence set out in the dossier was unfounded", something he didn't believe to be true.
Lord Hutton's conclusions appear to confirm Gilligan's worst fears and the reporter has been embroiled in meetings with the NUJ in an effort to shore up his position since receiving his copy of the report last night.
Today Mr Dear called on the BBC's governors to "stand firm, defend their reporter and the essential truth of their story", and warned that the corporation could face an industrial dispute if it sacked or disciplined Gilligan.
The former Sunday Telegraph journalist has told friends he would prefer to rebuild his career at the BBC but that if he was sidelined he would think carefully about writing a book based on his experiences and return to print journalism.
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