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Hostile BBC Interview of a Saudi Loyalist Shows Prime Journalistic Duty: Scrutiny of One's Own Side

By       Message Glenn Greenwald       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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The ongoing atrocities by Saudi Arabia and its "coalition partners" in Yemen reflect powerfully -- and horribly -- on both the U.S. and U.K. That's true not only because those two countries in general are among the closest allies of the Saudi regime, but also because they are specifically lavishing Saudi despots with the very arms and intelligence being used to kill large numbers of Yemeni civilians.

The American and British governments have long been overflowing with loyalists to the Saudi regime (recall how President Obama literally terminated a state visit to India [where he ironically spent his time "lecturing India on religious tolerance and women's rights"] in order to fly to Riyadh to pay homage to the Saudi King upon his death, along with top officials from both parties).

One of those many Saudi regime loyalists, conservative British MP Daniel Kawczynski, appeared on BBC's Newsnight program on Friday night and was mercilessly grilled by host James O'Brien about support for the Saudi war in Yemen by both the British government and the country's private-sector weapons manufacturers.

The BBC deserves all sorts of criticisms, but this interview was a master class in how journalists should interview politicians and others who wield power. The whole interview (video below) is well worth watching, as O'Brien repeatedly demands that Kawczynski address the war crimes being committed by the Saudi regime he supports. But I want to focus on one point in particular.

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Each time he's confronted with questions about the war crimes committed by the side his own government arms and supports, Kawczynski ignores the topic and instead demands to know why the BBC isn't focused instead on the bad acts of the Houthis, the rebel group the Saudis are fighting, which the Saudis (dubiously) claim is controlled by Iran. Over and over, when O'Brien asks about the role the U.K. Government is playing in Saudi war crimes, Kawczynski tries to change the topic by demanding that the BBC instead talk about Iran and the Houthis: "You have an agenda at Newsnight and you don't want anyone to dispute the way in which you are covering this war. You have an agenda against the Gulf States coalition. ... Why haven't you shown any coverage of the massacres ... by the Houthi tribes?"

After noting that the BBC has reported on Houthi violence, O'Brien explains this crucial point about his focus on Saudi crimes:

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Glenn Greenwald is one of three co-founding editors of The Intercept. He is a journalist, constitutional lawyer, and author of four New York Times best-selling books on politics and law. His most recent book, No Place (more...)
 

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