The BBC refuses to use the word terrorist whenever reporting on radical Islamist jihad, because as they rather notoriously postulated, it showed anti-Islamist bias and one man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter, etc etc. A Google of their entire site shows most uses of the word to be within quotation marks, indicating a disputed use of the term. Auntie Beeb takes the terrorist policy quite seriously.

Too bad they don’t apply the same thought process to other forms of bias. This morning, they report on the accusation of Zimbabwe opposition party MDC that the regime of Robert Mugabe has plans to assassinate Morgan Tsvangirai before he can beat Mugabe in a run-off election now scheduled for the end of June. Take a look at the headline for this report:

Zimbabwe’s ruling party has poured scorn on opposition claims that the military is plotting to assassinate its presidential candidate using snipers.

“The allegations by the Tsvangirai-led MDC have no foundation whatsoever except in his own dreams,” said Zanu-PF spokesman Nathan Shamuyarira.

Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) leader Morgan Tsvangirai postponed a return to Zimbabwe at the weekend.

From this headline, it appears that Zanu-PF isn’t the only organization pouring scorn on the notion. Calling the MDC allegation a fantasy, without quotation marks, indicates the BBC takes the Mugabe line as fact. Even if the MDC doesn’t have Perry Mason proof for this allegation, the wave of violence that has swept across MDC-supporting communities and villages makes the notion of violence against Tsvangirai at least a rational possibility.

The report itself shows less bias than its headline, but it does curiously focus much more attention on Zanu-PF and Mugabe regime denials and countercharges than it does the MDC claims of violence. Perhaps that is why the BBC’s headline writer decided to indulge the kind of loaded terminology that the BBC eschews when writing about people who target civilians for death and destruction in order to promote their radical ideologies and theologies. It would have been shorter for me to just write terrorist, but you understand.