On yesterday’s BritainAndAmerica blog I identified BBC coverage of external threats as one of ten key vulnerabilities of our country in these early years of the war on terror. When our nation’s dominant (and publicly-funded) broadcaster subjects failings of coalition forces to incessant scrutiny but offers little public education of the threat posed by regimes like Iran, political leaders will struggle to steel the public for the grave challenges that lie ahead.
It’s not just in news output that there is a problem. Drama is at least as undermining and Channel 4 is at least as worrying as the BBC. On Thursday evening C4 will broadcast The Mark of Cain. It portrays British soldiers systematically abusing Iraqi citizens in what Max Hastings (a critic of the Iraq war) calls an outrageous exaggeration.
In today’s Times, Conservative MP Michael Gove authors a powerful attack on the fictional drama and on the values of the television executives who are broadcasting it:
"The real moral issue that Channel 4 needs to tackle – indeed, that the broadcast media as a whole must consider – is not so much the need for moral courage on the part of our troops. The men and women in the Gulf show the sort of bravery every day of their professional lives that should leave the rest of us speechless with admiration. No, the real issue is the disturbing moral relativism of our media and their lack of moral clarity at a time of trial for freedom. How can it be right that the only drama yet screened about our troops in Iraq, who are risking everything to help to build a democracy, is one in which they are depicted as sadists and cowards? Why do the people who commission this sort of stuff seem to hate our country, and our values, so much that their first impulse is to see what they can do to blacken the reputation of those who fight in our name? And what does it say about the moral courage of our broadcasters that the broader context of the war our soldiers are fighting, the struggle against militant Islamism, just doesn’t get a look-in? It’s time that the whistle was blown on the broadcasters’ abuse of our soldiers’ mission."
Well said, Michael.
Related link: The author of the drama accounts for his work in an article for The Telegraph.