Here our Editor Phil Parry looks at the enormous gaps presented today by the mainstream media between the image of prominent figures in Wales and the controversial reality.
Earlier he has described how he was helped to break into the South Wales Echo office car when he was a cub reporter, recalled his early career as a journalist, the importance of experience in the job, and making clear that the ‘calls’ to emergency services as well as court cases are central to any media operation.
He has also explored how poorly paid most journalism is when trainee reporters had to live in squalid flats, the vital role of expenses, and about one of his most important stories on the now-scrapped 53 year-old BBC Cymru Wales TV Current Affairs series he presented for 10 years, Week In Week Out (WIWO), which won an award even after it was axed, long after his career really took off.
Phil has explained too how crucial it is actually to speak to people, the virtue of speed as well as accuracy, why knowledge of ‘history’ is vital, how certain material was removed from TV Current Affairs programmes when secret cameras had to be used, and some of those he has interviewed.
It is curious how one aspect of leading figures is celebrated but another, darker, side is totally ignored – with the mainsgtream media in Wales partly to blame.
Only journalists on The Eye highlight these truths which appear to be rather unfortunate to a lot of people.
We have seen how the Welsh media have dutifully reported that the family of children’s author Roald Dahl felt forced to apologise for his revolting anti-Semitism, yet failed to publish the fact that his Cardiff birthplace has been marked with a blue plaque, and that a major attraction in the city was named after him
Then there is the shady past of the founder of Welsh nationalist party Plaid Cymru (PC), Saunders Lewis, who told the group’s magazine Y Ddraig Goch in 1926: “It’s a low, churlish thing to slur a man by calling him a Jew”, but announced more recently it has had to launch an internal review into anti-Semitism by members.
Now comes the much-hyped programme by BBC Cymru Wales (BBC CW) tonight ‘Aled Jones at 50’, which is likely to ignore completely that The Eye had revealed Mr Jones vanished from the airwaves following complaints about his ‘inappropriate behaviour’ earlier, and that an official said: “He has apologised… and assured the BBC that there will be no repeat of this behaviour in future”.
Is this a deliberate policy?!
There is no mention whatsoever of controversies that have dogged him in the past, with the BBC CW publicity for ‘Aled Jones at 50’ declaring only: “As Aled Jones turns 50, we look back at his remarkable career since making his name as a boy soprano”.
The voice-over for the trail says simply that the programme charts Mr Jones’ career “from boy soprano, to presenter”.
Yet earlier the BBC had a slightly different view of events when he stopped broadcasting at the corporation, and a statement from Mr Jones’ spokesman said he “has given his assurance” that his behaviour “will never be repeated”.
The spokesman stated: “Aled voluntarily agreed to step away from his presenting commitments whilst the organisation (the BBC) conducted a review.
“Aled was devastated to learn that some of his past behaviour outside the BBC had caused distress to others. He deeply regrets this behaviour and is very sorry for the hurt it has caused.”
It was added: “Whilst he accepts that his (Aled Jones’) behaviour over a decade ago was occasionally juvenile, as was that of others, he never intended to harass or distress and he strongly denies any inappropriate contact”.
Yet earlier the whole thing had been a bit of a mystery and all we knew was that Mr Jones’ programmes had suddenly disappeared.
On November 4 2017 The Eye journalists showed how new schedules were about to be published by the BBC, but his popular Sunday programme on BBC Cymru Radio Wales (RW) did not appear.
Yet, initially at first, an interesting picture was painted for nosey journalists on The Eye and officials said, that they did “make changes to when programmes run”.
Was this media management, or simple lying to conceal the real truth which The Eye were on to?
Perhaps a little more transparency is called for!
We’ll never know the truth, but this episode does regrettably fit into an unfortunate pattern.
For it has emerged as well, that the family of Cardiff City Council’s favourite children’s author Roald Dahl, has had to apologise for his “prejudiced”comments.
The mainstream media in Wales, however, totally disregarded the apparent contradiction with the facts that Mr Dahl’s Cardiff birthplace has been honoured by a blue plaque, and that the former holding dock in front of the Millennium Centre is now an impressive walk way and outdoor concert venue, known as Roald Dahl Plass, reporting only the apology.
This, for example was WalesOnline: “Roald Dahl’s family has apologised for the author’s “incomprehensible” anti-Semitic comments.
“The creator of books such as Matilda, The BFG, The Witches and Charlie And The Chocolate Factory died at the age of 74 in 1990.”
Dahl’s anti-Semitic views have been known for many years, though, because in 1983 he had told the New Statesman: “There is a trait in the Jewish character that does provoke animosity, maybe it’s a kind of lack of generosity towards non-Jews. I mean, there’s always a reason why anti-anything crops up anywhere. Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on them for no reason.”
Thirty years ago he said to The Independent: “I’m certainly anti-Israeli and I’ve become anti-Semitic in as much as that you get a Jewish person in another country like England strongly supporting Zionism”.
It seems to have been much the same with PC.
The anti-Semitism review by the party’s Westminster parliamentary group leader and MP for Dwyfor Meirionyd Liz Saville Roberts aims to ensure they have a ‘zero-tolerance’ approach.
It comes after the Board of Deputies of British Jews (BDBJ) said it was concerned anti-Semitic prejudice is “tolerated within Plaid Cymru”.
They made the comments following PC taking no action against Sahar Al-Faifi over claims she sent an anti-Semitic tweet.
There were calls for Ms Al-Faifi’s expulsion from the party after it had emerged that a Twitter post in June had linked US police violence to Israel.
The BDBJ said the decision to allow her to seek election to the Welsh Parliament/Senedd Cymru (WP/SC) sent a message that “anti-Semitism is tolerated in Plaid Cymru”.
Ms Al-Faifi was suspended by PC in 2019, but reinstated in February over her social media messages, but last year she had admitted that some of her posts had crossed “the boundary of criticism of Israel into anti-Semitism”.
A letter from the BDBJ senior Vice-President Sheila Gewolb, and South Wales Jewish representative council chairman Laurence Kahn, said Ms Al-Faifi propagated “an anti-Semitic conspiracy theory”
The letter stated: “It is a hallmark of anti-Semitism to attempt to blame Jews for the world’s ills”. It added that the tweet followed “years of anti-Semitic behaviour”.
“Regrettably, a message has been sent to Jews and anti-Semites that anti-Semitism is tolerated in Plaid Cymru. We would like to understand what the party intends to do to rectify this situation”.
Ms Al-Faifi said in the summer that her tweet was based on an Amnesty USA report which was later clarified.
“Subsequently, my tweet was deleted”, she added.
But PC remained defiant following headlines about the incident, saying: “The disciplinary process has finished and no further action is being taken in this case. Plaid Cymru respects the views of the Board of Deputies and will continue to have constructive discussions. The party has a zero tolerance approach to anti-Semitism and all forms of prejudice and discrimination.”
However PC still apparently felt forced to conduct the review into alleged anti-Semitism, and its announcement came on the same day it was revealed that Ms Al-Faifi made the fourth spot in the selection for the party’s South Wales Central list.
PC leader Adam Price declared: “I think this is a watershed moment, and I think no part of society is immune from it.
“The Welsh Labour Party is not immune from it, Plaid Cymru is not immune from it.
“I’ve met with the Board of Deputies of British Jews and it’s absolutely certain that we are seeing a rising tide of anti-Semitism, it’s endemic.”
PC election candidates are to undergo training on combating anti-Semitism.
Apart from the party’s founder saying in 1926 “It’s a low, churlish thing to slur a man by calling him a Jew”, in September 2014 it was stated in the publication of the think-tank Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA): “Lewis may or may not have been what some have called a ‘salon anti-semite’ that is one who has personal racial prejudice against Jews expressed privately”.
Yet this too has been largely ignored by the mainstream media in Wales.
it might also be seen as a ‘slur’ on them to be critical.
But it seems justified if BBC CW celebrates with a TV programme ‘Aled Jones at 50’, yet fails to mention in it that he stopped broadcasting briefly, with his spokesman saying he “regrets (his) behaviour and is very sorry for the hurt it has caused”, or that other parts of the mainstream media in Wales apparently censored out the fact that Roald Dahl’s birthplace has been marked with a special blue sign, and an important Cardiff attraction was named after him, despite him saying “Even a stinker like Hitler didn’t just pick on (the jews) for no reason.”
Also on The Eye – how important broadcast figures in Wales tell us about going to the beach, but also give details of the strict lockdown rules.
Tomorrow – as the difficult year of 2020 draws to a close, Phil shows how the future may be one of new technology.
The memories of his extraordinary decades-long award-winning career in journalism (which DID NOT include making anti-Semitic remarks) as Phil was gripped by the rare disabling neurological condition Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia (HSP), have been released in a major book ‘A GOOD STORY’. Order the book now! The picture doubles as a cut-and-paste poster!