BBC appears to endorse forced closure of Reading Chick-fil-A by a mob

Photo of Chick-fil-A delivery. Photo courtesy of Flickr / Scuddr under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licence
Photo courtesy of Flickr / Scuddr under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic licence. https://www.flickr.com/photos/scuddr/723412564

The BBC News website’s recent coverage of the enforced closure of the UK’s first Chick-fil-A restaurant in Reading can only be described as disgusting.

Let me begin by making one thing clear. Personally I am not one for eating in MacDonald’s or KFC-type restaurants, and so an establishment like Chick-fil-A is not one that I would be likely to frequent any time soon.

“Far from upholding the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting, its article appeared to be a scurrilous piece of propaganda implicitly endorsing Chick-fil-A’s closure by what is, to all intents and purposes, a mob.”

Nonetheless, the enforced closure of the UK’s first Chick-fil-A, as reported in the BBC News website’s article on 18th October, makes for disturbing reading. The closure appears to be an anti-religious stitch-up by Reading Pride and The Oracle shopping centre.

Worse than all this, however, is the BBC’s reporting of the incident itself. Far from upholding the BBC’s commitment to impartial reporting as laid out in its Royal Charter, its article appeared to be a scurrilous piece of propaganda detailing why Chick-fil-A is an ‘anti-LGBT organization’ — on account of its donations to other “anti-LGBT groups” such as the Salvation Army (really?!), as well as its chairman’s conservative political views — and therefore implicitly endorsing its closure by what is, to all intents and purposes, a mob.

I wrote a letter of complaint to the BBC about this article, which says it all really. As of today, 12th November, I am yet to receive a reply.

My recent complaint letter to the BBC over its coverage of the closure of Reading Chick-fil-A

My recent complaint letter to the BBC over its coverage of the closure of Reading Chick-fil-A

Mr. Graham Harter
[address supplied]

BBC Complaints
PO Box 1922
Darlington
DL3 0UR

Monday, 21 October 2019

Re: Coverage of Reading Chick-fil-A restaurant closure on BBC News website

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-berkshire-50094551

Dear Sir/Madam,

I am genuinely disgusted by the reporting of the closure of the Reading Chick-fil-A restaurant on the BBC News website on the above URL. When the BBC News website produces such heavily slanted and tendentious articles as this, its “progressive” agenda is laid bare for everyone to see.

Nobody else operating under a Royal Charter to “provide impartial news and information” (Royal Charter December 2016, sec. 6, para. 1) would headline such an article with the words “LGBT rights row” as if any LGBT person’s rights had been infringed by the company.

Nor would they go on to describe organizations such as the Salvation Army, which is simply a Christian organization seeking to bring practical help to the disadvantaged, as an “anti-LGBT group.”

The real narrative about what is going on in this story, is that Reading Pride and The Oracle shopping centre have between them contrived to shut down a religiously-owned business on a flimsy pretext. It would be an interesting thought experiment to consider how this story would have looked in the news if Chick-fil-A had been a Jewish food chain.

The BBC News website is a highly influential voice in the public square. By framing the story in this clearly biassed way, it appears that the BBC is effectively licensing such anti-religious intolerance.

Finally, I note that between Saturday 19th October when I first read this story, and today, certain subtle modifications have been made to the article:

a) The reference to the Salvation Army has been ‘clarified’ to “US Salvation Army.”

b) A statement by the UK Salvation Army, saying that it “strongly objected to being presented as homophobic or transphobic,” has been appended to the close of the article.

This is simply not good enough. The article in its original form should never have seen the light of day, and even in its present form it still strongly conveys the impression that both Chick-fil-A and the Salvation Army are sinister campaign groups whose sole raison d’être is to wheel back the rights of LGBT people.

In short, this is a horrible piece of reporting for which I hope that the BBC News website will issue a prominent and clearly-worded apology.

Yours sincerely,

Mr. Graham Harter

 

Update, 25 November 2019

I have since received a reply to this letter from BBC Audience Services, which you can find here.

 

 

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