No one would be surprised by charges that a legacy news outlet is biased in its reporting on the transgender issue.
But there may be a gasp or two when that same outlet admits it.
That’s what just has happened with the BBC, which faced complaints after it reported on an issue involving puberty-blocking drugs in the United Kingdom.
The scenario was that a High Court ruling on those drugs said they should not be given to children.
The Gender Identity Development Service, the transgender-facilitating arm of the National Health Service, decided to appeal, and the BBC’s Ben Hunte, the broadcaster’s own “LGBT correspondent,” wrote a story warning that unduly emphasized suicide, “and that this risked encouraging vulnerable people to contemplate taking their own lives.”
Now, the Christian Institute explains, the BBC has backed down.
“Citing guidelines on impartiality, which state that news reports should give ‘due weight’ to opposing views, the BBC admitted ‘the article should have done more to reflect the arguments of those who have legitimate reservations about the use of puberty blockers,’” the institute said.
“In relation to suicide, the BBC conceded it had not heeded media advice ‘warning that factual reporting of suicide has ‘the potential to make such actions appear feasible and even reasonable to the vulnerable”.”
The original article eventually was edited to “remove the suggestion of causation,” that at first had Hunte reporting “speculation that the court ruling could lead to self harm and suicide among teenagers.”
He quote Dr. Adrian Harrop, “an LGBT activist with no specialist knowledge in gender dysphoria,” about that “very real risk.”
Also quoted by Hunte was a woman who was suspended by the General Medical Council for running an unlicensed transgender clinic for children.
The BBC itself said that a reader had complained the article in question, on the developments in the case of Bell v. Tavistock about restricting access to puberty-blocking drugs for children under 16, was biased and “gave undue emphasis to suicidal ideation.”
The network explained, “It is not always necessary to cover the range of views or opinions in equal proportions but the guidelines recognize the omission of views can jeopardize impartiality. In the case of this article, there was an editorial justification for reporting the reaction of those fearful of the possible impact of the High Court ruling. However, as the ruling represented a critical juncture in a sharply controversial debate, the ECU considered the article should have done more to reflect the arguments of those who have legitimate reservations about the use of puberty blockers and upheld this element of the complaint.”
The BBC said that it was appropriate to reference concerns about suicide, but even “factual reporting” holds the “potential to make such actions appear feasible and even reasonable to the vulnerable.”
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