Standish discusses how far the performance of the British media was affected by government news management. Most interestingly, he refers to a report from the Guardian which quotes the ITV News editor-in-chief, David Mannion, as saying that he had been called by a Home Office PR demanding that a newsflash saying that at least 20 people had died be taken down.
At 12.38 Italian time (11.38 UK time), Italy's leading news agency, ANSA, ran a story on its website reporting comments by the Italian interior minister, Giuseppe Pisanu, that at least 50 people had died in the London blasts. At the same time, I was watching TV news reports, mainly BBC World and Sky News, which reported possible deaths, especially following the explosion on the bus.
Although BBC television news did briefly mention Pisanu's comments, up until 3 p.m. that day the leading reports on the explosions only referred to possible deaths. Indeed, the British police refused to confirm that two people had died during a news conference broadcast on BBC World at lunchtime. By 14.20 Italian time, there was a debate on Italian state radio (RAI) about Pisanu's comments, and why the 50 deaths were not being confirmed or denied in Britain.
Such pressure may also explain why the BBC News website clung to the "power surge" theory for so long. On Thursday morning I was getting impatient with it and turning to other sites for the news. And this despite the fact that, because my own journey to work in Leicester on Midland Mainline had been delayed by "power supply problems in the Kentish Town area", I was more inclined than most to believe this explanation at first. The BBC's performance had the flavour of prearranged euphemism.
As Standish concludes:
In an address to the nation on the evening of 7 July, UK prime minister Tony Blair praised the "stoicism and resilience" of Londoners. But it could be that his government didn't trust Londoners with information about the scale of the tragedy on 7 July. Did the government fear that Londoners would panic, as might be indicated by the lunchtime police news conference on 7 July that stressed the need to stay calm while refusing to confirm deaths? Or was it because the authorities feared that there would be a reaction against London's Muslims?Meanwhile, those with a taste for conspiracy theories should read The Antagonist.