Sunday 23 July 2006

A slight omission.

On the BBC's This Week the other night, there was a debate about the current war between Israel and Hezbollah. The two people chosen to put forward their views of the situation were Simon Schama and Vivienne Westwood.

Let's leave to one side the BBC's idea of showing both sides of the debate by having two people on who both think the UN should take over. Let's even let go the fact that one side of this geopolitical debate appears to have been represented by a famous fashion designer — designing clothes doesn't make you stupid, and it's no more inherently ridiculous to have Vivienne Westwood talk about Israel than it is to have Bob Geldof talk about Africa or Kim Wilde talk about gardening — and they're both experts.

No, what is wrong is to introduce her merely as "the human rights campaigner Vivienne Westwood" and never once to mention what it is she actually does for a living. That is simple misreporting.

As it happens, this particular piece of misreporting was a gross disservice to eloquent, intelligent human rights campaigners everywhere, as Westwood was neither.

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