Sky News Has a Panic Attack Over Charlie Hebdo Cartoon


Much to the chagrin of sensible adults everywhere, a lot has been made in recent days over whether or not news networks should broadcast images of the Charlie Hebdo cartoons which depict Islam’s Prophet, Muhammad.

In the wake of the appalling terror attacks in France, it was discovered that the official BBC editorial guidelines on this opted for Sharia compliance by affirming “The prophet Mohammed must not be represented in any shape or form.” This gained a lot of negative attention – which resulted in the guidelines being replaced with some vague nonsense about obtaining senior authorisation instead. This had the whiff of hoping to maintain the previous policy whilst allowing it to go unstated. .

It was clear this issue was causing a certain level of discomfort to our journalists.  The BBC’s own Evan Davis for instance, was seen sheepishly treating us to a brief flash of the image as though he were being forced to share a log of his internet browsing history.

I did wonder though; what would happen were someone to catch a live broadcast unawares with the image? Well, thanks to the commendable efforts of French Journalist Caroline Fourest, we need wonder no more.  And it’s extraordinary:

It truly is something to behold. The reaction could barely have been different had the guest started masturbating whilst throwing Nazi salutes.

You could see the camera begin to retreat as soon as the operator had realised what was coming.  The live link to the guest was abandoned and the flustered presenter informed us that Sky had taken the decision not to show the cartoon and apologised for any ‘offense’ caused.

There we have it.  An apology for any ‘offense’ – as though this is what any of this is really about.  We know, as well as they know that this wasn’t done to spare ‘offense’ – it was censored because of fear of reprisals. Well, fair enough you might say – but at least let’s be honest about it.

The Western media is now so afraid to show a cartoon that it will apply self-censorship in order to comply with Islamic blasphemy laws.

What Sky and others fail to realise however; by not showing the imagery and ‘sharing the risk’, they isolate small publications like Charlie Hebdo – effectively painting a bull’s-eye on their back for extremists to take aim at. And make no mistake – they are always looking for something to take aim at, whether you are doing your best to avoid ‘offense’ or not.

The period after these horrific attacks were without doubt one of the most important tests our news media have ever faced.  They have failed this test miserably. We should remember that the next time they begin back-slapping during whatever self-congratulatory press awards ceremony comes along.

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  • The ‘bull’s-eye’ point is a very good one. You are also right in that we should vote with our wallets and not buy/view media that are exponents of Islamic blasphemy laws by proxy. The problem is that leaves very little choice left to read/view – apart from Twitter of course! I’m actually shocked at Sky for their disrespectful treatment of this French Journalist.

  • And to think us Brits often like to think of the French as spineless.

  • Sky News cowards. You can just see the subtext in her eyes when she’s apologizing for the “offense.” One should add subtitles to the video saying “we have chosen not to show that cover because we’re spineless and don’t actually believe what we say when we preach western world values like freedom of press and expression. Please don’t murder us. Sharia law FTW.”

  • The problem with this whole thing , as I see it is this….. the French are all claiming free speech etc yet at the same time they ban a “comedian” who is in favour of the attacks you can’t allow one and not have the other just because you don’t like something is not a reason to ban it. The bbc sky etc have been going soft for years try getting them to say illegal alien these days … a spade a spade stop pussy footing around these overly sensitive idiots as its not helping society as a whole it’s only weakening it.

    • On the surface there’s definitely a conflict between fighting for free speech and then arresting people for saying certain things. But they’re not just jailing people for any old unpopular opinions. They’re going after are those who specifically support/condone/celebrate the killing of innocents. You can’t hide behind free speech if the intent of your speech is inciting violence and death. If you think people deserved to die for drawing a cartoon, you’re a lunatic and a terrorist sympathizer, and i’m perfectly happy for the GIGN to break your door down.

  • Attempting to force, bully, cajole or shame a media organisation into broadcasting something it doesn’t want to is not striking a blow for press freedom. It’s the opposite. Whether you agree or not with Sky’s desire to not broadcast the image – and whatever their motives – it’s their network, their channel, their employees… their choice.

    • I find the notion that a major global news conglomerate can be ‘bullied’ or ‘cajoled’ to be an unusual one. Of course it’s their choice, as it’s the choice of others to point out they’ve failed to uphold freedom of expression and opted for self-censorship.

  • Utterly disgraceful! I think this is it peeps – this truly marks the beginning of the end for whatever freedom of speech we thought we had! 🙁 When it comes to the British media I’m not overly surprised in some ways. I’ve seen something like this coming for quite a while. If they don’t want to show the images then fine – as long as they honestly admit it is out of fear of reprisals. Of course making an admission like that would involve having 1) integrity & a spine, & 2) most importantly; admitting to a fear of mass reprisals would pop their little “Islamaphobia” bubble they’ve invested so much PR effort in.

  • Ullrich Fischer

    It is outrageous that the “But… ” brigade so aptly outed by Salman Rushdie as the traitors to democratic principles that they are — has overtaken pretty much all the media across the political spectrum in much of the non-Islamic world.

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