Fox News show slammed after labelling BBC 'dishonest'

LONDON - Rupert Murdoch's Fox News breached broadcasting codes on respect for truth and personal view programmes after one of its news anchors, John Gibson, described the BBC as 'obsessive, irrational and dishonest'.

The comments were made during the Fox News programme 'The Big Story' on January 28, the day that the Hutton Report was published. Gibson made the statement during a segment called "My Word", where he makes a personal comment at the end of the hour-long programme.

Ofcom received 24 complaints from the public about the comments made by Gibson, which included accusations that the BBC had "a frothing-at-the-mouth anti-Americanism that was obsessive, irrational and dishonest"; and that the BBC "felt entitled to lie and, when caught lying, felt entitled to defend its lying reporters and executives".

Gibson also made comments about the reporter at the centre of the story, Andrew Gilligan, saying that he had "insisted on air that the Iraqi Army was heroically repulsing an incompetent American military".

The channel was investigated over several breaches of the Programme Code, including a failure to give the BBC the right to reply and being factually inaccurate. Fox News attempted to defend the claim that the BBC is anti-American by pointing out that the corporation had appointed someone to monitor anti-Arab bias at the network. It also said that a Google search of the words "BBC anti-American" delivered 47,200 search results.

Ofcom was not moved by the evidence. In its ruling, the watchdog said: "We recognise how important freedom of expression is within the media. This item was part of a well-established spot, in which the presenter puts forward his own opinion in an uncompromising manner. However, such items should not make false statements by undermining facts."

It added: "Fox News was unable to provide any substantial evidence to support the overall allegation that the BBC management had lied and the BBC had an anti-American obsession."

It ruled that Fox News was in breach of three sections of the Programme Code: respect for truth; opportunity to take part; and personal view programmes -- opinions expressed must not rest upon false evidence.

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