A test for the BBC fake news: their own coverage of Russian expulsions. By reader L Thierry


(c) Sky News

Fake news/ – it is surely all in the framing? From beeb ‘home news’ site this evening comes this headline and tag –

‘Remarkable show of solidarity’

By Jonathan Marcus, BBC diplomatic correspondent

The collective expulsions from the US and EU member states is a remarkable show of solidarity with Britain, even more so because it comes at a time when UK-EU relations are strained due to the Brexit negotiations.’

But when one looks at the figures (included within the article – but not discussed) the EU states’ ‘remarkable show of solidarity’ seems not so very much in reality:

‘Who is expelling diplomats?

The UK announced it was expelling 23 Russian diplomats earlier this month.

EU countries: France (4); Germany (4); Poland (4); Czech Republic (3); Lithuania (3); Denmark (2); Netherlands (2); Italy (2); Spain (2); Estonia (1); Croatia (1); Finland (1); Hungary (1); Latvia (1); Romania (1); Sweden (1).

EU countries that have said they have no intention of expelling diplomats include Austria, Greece and Portugal, although all have said they support the UK and condemn the poisoning.’

I seem to recall there are currently 28 EU member states. Including the UK I make it 17 member states announcing diplomatic expulsions. With the beeb identifying by name only 3 states who are choosing not to expel Russian diplomats. Even my awful arithmetic tells me that the beeb seems to have neglected to mention the positions taken by a further 8 member states (including the Republic of Ireland). Now, it may be these further 8 EU member states are currently considering their positions (In which case surely that could have been identified in the article?)

Surely there couldn’t have been any attempt by the beeb correspondent to boost the idea of a ‘..remarkable show of solidarity..’ being shown by deliberately minimising the list of those EU member states who haven’t yet rushed to join in with the diplomatic expulsions when comparing it with the list of those member states which have? The beeb surely couldn’t do such a thing could it? That wouldn’t be cricket – would it?

Notice also that of the 16 EU member states allegedly showing ‘..remarkable show of solidarity..’ with the UK the largest number (7 states) are expelling a SINGLE Russian diplomat each – with a further 4 EU states expelling only 2 Russian diplomats – and no EU state (other than UK) expelling more than 4 Russian diplomats.

I’m no expert in diplomacy/diplomatic history but – it would strike me – that the beeb headline claiming a ‘REMARKABLE show of solidarity’ perhaps needs to be run past the new Fake News editorial suite?

9 thoughts on “A test for the BBC fake news: their own coverage of Russian expulsions. By reader L Thierry

  1. bedelsten March 27, 2018 / 10:55 am

    Do while
    Recursion: the repeated application of a recursive procedure or definition.
    Recursive: characterized by recursion or repetition
    BBC Fake News Unit: see above
    Goto Start
    Until hell freezes over
    Scotland remains part of UK


      • bedelsten March 27, 2018 / 6:27 pm

        Could be. Other languages don’t like GOTOs (which is not the same as not being allowed (ex- programmers tend to use lots of parenthesis, sometimes dubiously (this is possibly dubious parenthesis))).

        Liked by 1 person

  2. John Randall March 27, 2018 / 3:37 pm

    I think the support of EU countries for the UK line has been significant, but I wonder whether part of the reason is to demonstrate the benefit of EU membership.


    • Alasdair Macdonald. March 27, 2018 / 6:03 pm

      John Randall,

      I am still not very clear on what the correct account of the Salisbury events are, but I think HMG has certainly been opportunistic in its use of them for propaganda purposes. One plausible argument which I read was that within the other 27 EU countries there are several which for their own historic reasons are pretty hostile to Russia (and often for good reason). In the Brexit negotiations the EU has shown tremendous solidarity. So, the HMGstrategy could be to try to detach a sizeable bloc (not a majority) from the 27, then, by divide and rule, HMG, might be able to get a ‘better’ (by its lights) deal. So, recognising this, perhaps Germany, France, et al are trumping this by taking the action they are doing, so that the breakaway does not happen and, at the same time, making a point about the benefits of being in the EU.


      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ludo Thierry March 27, 2018 / 9:17 pm

    Interesting to note (as John does above) that New Zealand’s P.M.Jacinda Ardern has said NZ did not have any undeclared Russian intelligence officers to expel. Also interesting that (according to beeb website) Portugal has indicated they have no plans to expel any Russian diplomats. I’m sufficiently ancient to recall that there wasn’t much sign of a ‘Remarkable show of solidarity..’ when a Portuguese national (a photographer) was assassinated in New Zealand by agents of the French secret service (on the Greenpeace vessel ‘Rainbow warrior’ some years ago). I can’t recall the UK making a tremendous diplomatic fuss about things at that time. Perhaps my memory is failing – or something.

    Liked by 1 person

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