Perhaps you remember George Bush and Tony Blair used to get mad at Al Jazeera for broadcasting tapes of bin Laden, on the grounds the tapes might include secret messages for his minions.
In light of that, here’s an interesting slice of 1953 history from Stephen Kinzer’s All the Shah’s Men: An American Coup and the Roots of Middle East Terror. The “Roosevelt” it refers to is Kermit Roosevelt (grandson of Teddy). He’d been sent to Iran by the CIA in order to organize the overthrow of the democratically-elected Mossadegh government:
Roosevelt told the Shah that he was in Iran on behalf of the American and British secret services, and that this would be confirmed by a code word the Shah would be able to hear on the BBC the next night. Churchill had arranged that the BBC would end its broadcast day by saying not “It is now midnight,” as usual, but “It is now exactly midnight.”
This makes me wonder two things:
1. When reporting on the Bush/Blair complaints, did the BBC mention this part of its own historyâ€”i.e., happily facilitating the overthrow of a government in a Muslim country?
2. Is the BBC still doing this kind of thing?
EXTRA CREDIT: In the run up to the invasion of Iraq, Andrew Sullivan liked to call the BBC the “Baghdad Broadcasting Company” because it was “actively cooperating with Saddam.”