The BBC on the UN: You win some, you lose some

The BBC was on hand as the world gathered in New York for the opening of the 62nd session of the UN General Assembly. Reporting from the front lines, Jonathan Marcus noted that hot temperatures had caused the “almost ubiquitous secret service agents,” in place to protect the arriving dignitaries, “to wind down the windows of their black Jeep Suburbans.” What the heck? Chevy makes Suburbans, while Jeep makes Liberties and Patriots (with optional Freedom Drive) and other more or less off-road capable vehicles, all of which would fit in the, ahem, boot of a Suburban.

I was about ready to brush off the error as the honest mistake of someone who calls all vehicles with a vague whiff of off-roadiness a jeep (though surely his editors would have noticed the capital “J”?) until Mr. Marcus did it again towards the end of the article, kind of like it was on purpose: “The seniority of their cargo is indicated by the number of vehicles in each line and their allocation of those black Jeep Suburbans.”

You know, that reminds me of an old saying in Tennessee, I know it’s in Texas and probably in Tennessee, that says, “Fool me once, shame on you…,” you can’t get fooled again! So take your Jeep Suburbans and park ’em next to the Jaguar Defenders in your style guide, BBC, and let truth prevail.

Although my confidence was shaken by the BBC’s inability to get basic, if unimportant, facts straight, coverage of this important event did have a silver lining. Indeed, in a rare instance of completeness, Mr. Marcus actually mentioned the other 66% of the International Atomic Energy Agency’s business, the boring part that gets overshadowed by its more glamourous safeguards and verification role:

The IAEA oversees nuclear safety and promotes civil nuclear power (as well as its more familiar watchdog role).

This kind of reporting will be right up the alleys of Ahmadinejad, Cuba and the rest of the Non-Aligned Movement, who regularly get bent out of shape by the media’s frequent referrrals to watchdogs and the ensuing public misconception that the Agency has nothing better to do than badger developing countries over unwarranted allegations of abuse of the peaceful uses of nuclear energy, like provide technical assistance.


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