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Anthony meets the men from the Beeb

Anthony Watts has an interesting piece describing his own encounter with the team that made last night's Meet the Sceptics programme.

I was interviewed (captured really, they flagged me down in the conference hall foyer with no notice) by this production group at the Heartland conference last year in Chicago, giving well over an hour’s worth of an interview in which they asked the same question several times in different ways, hoping to get the answer they wanted. This is an old news interviewing trick to get that golden sound bite. I knew what they were doing, and kept giving the answers my way.

 Doug Keenan in the comments to the last thread on the Monckton programme says he was interviewed too, but they never used the footage.

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Reader Comments (22)

does anyone know where the lindzen quote "we could all deal with another 5 degrees" come from in the film? was it perhaps their own intertview with lindzen meaning we'll never see an unedited version? i am familiar with lindzen talking about a "few tenths of a degree" being harmless. but not 5 degrees.

Feb 1, 2011 at 9:35 AM | Unregistered Commentermark

Anyone in danger of selective interviewing would do well to keep a digital audio recorder about their person, just in case. Knowing that the interviewee had their own record of the whole interview might cause the production team to exercise more restraint in their selectivity. If not, the interviewee could release their own recording in full to show exactly what they said, and, of equal importance, what was asked.

If you're concerned about hit pieces, don't do an interview without one.

Feb 1, 2011 at 10:04 AM | Unregistered Commenterdread0

mark I suspect it is 5degF. I could do with a bit of 5degF right now. We could claim we are living in another climate optimum.

Feb 1, 2011 at 10:09 AM | Unregistered CommenterPhillip Bratby

"Then, they showed me the contract they wanted me to sign (no mention at the beginning before the interview) and I spent several minutes reading it, finally deciding that the contract basically amounted to me giving them all rights to my image, words, and opinion, with specific rights to edit them together in “any way they saw fit”. Yes, as I recall, that was exactly the way it was worded in the contract, and basically gave them a license to create their own alternate “Watts interview” reality as they desired. My years in television news have shown me how editing can be brutally unfair in the hands of somebody skilled, and I basically told them to “stuff it” and refused to sign the contract. They spent the next two weeks via email and phone trying to come up with contract variations to get me to sign and I still refused. The entire affair was rushed and unprofessional in my experience."

Did Monckton et al not read the small print?

Feb 1, 2011 at 10:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterFrosty

This site has also picked up something of interest on WUWT:

'...from the WUWT blog, is a videotape editor's review of last night's programme on Lord Monckton. It's long, but the guy has 25 years experience, and it is worth including in full to show the full extent of BBC bias:'

"Meet the Skeptics’ was a great example of clumsy, heavy handed storytelling. Nothing more. The most telling techniques include the way Monckton was seldom given more than 10 seconds to say anything, with cutaways covering obvious edits in his talking in order to make it seem like he is saying something he probably isn’t. It’s easy. I do it everyday, though I tend to do it to enhance understanding not to misrepresent. On the other hand, Monckton’s detractors were given free reign to speak with 30, 40, 45 seconds of screen time to expound their ideas and make their point.

The part where Monckton was caught (supposedly) looking forlorn as he read the (apparently) devastating report about his address to Congress was pure pathos, made all the more emotional by the sad piano music and then the cut to him sitting alone, in the distance, looking out onto the loch, no doubt contemplating the obvious and terrible mistakes he’d made. Except we didn’t learn what those mistakes were other than a rather lame mis-attribution which he owned up to.

Murray had a chance here to actually present the sceptics’ case, however much he disagreed with it. Instead he chose to malign and mis-represent through juxtaposition (witness the homophobe and gun-wielding bigots), through use of music (the mournful piano and the buffoonery of Gilbert & Sullivan telling us what to feel), through language (such as the repeated use if the phrase ‘what he thought was true’ and it’s variations and naturally, through selective editing,

Given the exact same material I could edit a programme that would tell a totally different story. Never be told that a documentary is truth."

Feb 1, 2011 at 11:18 AM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

This is the bit that doesn't equate: How is it that Monckton, who is after all very familiar with having his position and his views misrepresented (I'm particularly thinking of the Abraham incident), marched head-long into this release contract? I wouldn't have taken an independent film crew at its word that it would operate in an un-biased way. I would have required, at the very least, final post-production sign-off.

It's a major sticking point for me, and I do feel it needs a direct and frank explanation. I do recognise a stitch-up when I see one, and I do see Chris Monckton being stitched up here. But how is it that a man who clearly is not a fool is nevertheless taken for a fool? I just don't get it.

Also, I wonder if anyone knows if there is lawfully the same 14-day cooling off period on this kind of contract, with an independent film-maker, as there is with normal contracts?

Feb 1, 2011 at 12:23 PM | Unregistered CommenterSimon Hopkinson

At the point where Monkton was shown reading a document and looking perplexed, perhaps they actually filmed him poring over their "release contract"? Now that would be sweet ........................

Feb 1, 2011 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRobert Thomson

James Delingpole explains why, because filming was over months, they gained Monckton's and his wife's trust.... drinking with them, etc

all here:
Over the next few months I came to like and trust Murray. He was there filming Lord Lawson, Lord Monckton, Lord Leach and me when we debated at the Oxford Union. And he was there to capture our joy and surprise when we won – and to hang out drinking with us, afterwards, like he was our mate. By this stage, we’d all come to accept that Murray was genuinely interested in presenting our case sympathetically.

Feb 1, 2011 at 1:16 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

and the truth comes out!

Possibly the thing to do in future is agree to the interviews but insist you have your own independent film team along! Well done S.M.! Not much gets past you!

Feb 1, 2011 at 1:20 PM | Unregistered CommenterPete H

Another Glencoe massacre 1692?

Feb 1, 2011 at 1:24 PM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

This post by Anthony in May 2010 is his report at the time it happened.

Feb 1, 2011 at 1:39 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

I was interviewed by a BBC reporter regarding named Stephen Chittenden on climate in Houston, Texas for a BBC radio show. This was back in Autumn of 2006, I believe. He was a nice guy, but never delivered the audio of the actual show he promised. From what I was told, however, he took my position at the time: That AGW is mostly a social movement that has obsessed on unclear science, and turned it into a stereotypical hick Texan redneck denialist. If that is what he did, then based on what I am seeing from Watts post and Moncton's experience, I am disappointed but not surprised. It would be nice to know what he actually did.
I would be as cautious as Watts if ever approached on this again. This is a treacherous issue and hard core promoters will stop at at little to push their agenda.

Feb 1, 2011 at 2:12 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

@Robert Thomson


Feb 1, 2011 at 2:41 PM | Unregistered Commentermark

Well, Barry, that is an explanation, but not really an 'explanation, is it?

I mean, what got into JD and Moncky? What happened to their skepticism?

Feb 1, 2011 at 3:27 PM | Unregistered CommenterShub

I was interviewed by them as well. I haven't seen the show - do they use anything from their interview with me?

Feb 1, 2011 at 3:53 PM | Unregistered CommenterSteve McIntyre

Steve McIntyre
I'm not sure if you've had an answer yet. No they didn't use you. It was mostly Monckton and the agenda seem to be to focus on his eccentricities and to seek out as many of his supporters as could be found with extreme views.

This is a good synopsis, I thought.

Feb 1, 2011 at 4:27 PM | Unregistered Commentertimheyes

As has been pointed out repeatedly, from the media's perspective CAGW is a political story. They cover it with the same mindset and the same tactics they use on all political stories -- they cover for their friends and ideological allies, they screw the enemy. It's been that way for decades. Most people are familiar with "Rathergate" where CBS tried to influence the 2004 US presidential election by using fraudulent documents to smear Bush.

It's an old playbook. From --

"In 1963 CBS executive Fred Friendly and CBS commentator Eric Sevareid convince Arizona Senator Barry Goldwater to sit for a two-hour interview for a proposed CBS documentary called "The Conservative Revival." Goldwater, wary that CBS was possessed of something he called "liberal bias," hesitated. But persuaded that Friendly and Sevareid were, in Goldwater's words, "gentlemen and men of their word," he went ahead with the interview. The result? A show called "Thunder on the Right," which focused on the John Birch Society, the Minutemen and, as Goldwater later delicately noted, other "far-right activists." Which is to say, crazies. A thoughtful profile of the likes of William F. Buckley, Jr. this show was not. Goldwater appeared on screen only briefly, just long enough to link him with the Birchers, a group with which he had not only no connection but had actively opposed. Said a burned Goldwater afterwards: "In view of their conduct, I would never again accept the word of Friendly or Sevareid."

In news media circles, this kind of journalism is praised and admired. They did what they had to do to screw over the bad guys. The ends justify the means. In this documentary of Monckton, Murray is guilty of nothing more than the commission of standard political journalism. He'll probably get an award.

Feb 1, 2011 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterstan

Interesting link - well I thought so anyway

Feb 1, 2011 at 6:03 PM | Unregistered CommenterRetired Dave

Years ago (about 35) I was advised never to give recorded radio or TV interviews, only live. The reason? Your words will be edited to serve the programme makers agenda, not your agenda. And by the way, they may edit your words to discredit you. The source of this advice? An experienced, nationally known BBC reporter and programme maker.

Mostly I heeded the advice. On one occasion when I agreed to give a tape recorded interview, I spotted that the interviewer had sneakily set his recorder running while engaged in the preliminary chit chat, no doubt hoping to get some indiscretion. In those days you could see the spools turning - much trickier now.

You cannot be too careful when dealing with the media.

Feb 1, 2011 at 7:06 PM | Unregistered Commenteroldtimer

Perhaps I should read twice before hitting 'create post'?
"I was interviewed by a BBC reporter regarding named Stephen Chittenden on climate in Houston, Texas for a BBC radio show."
Should have read more like, "I was intereviewed in fall of 2006 by a BBC reporter named Stephen Chittenden regarding the climate issue, when he stopped over in Houston. The interview was for a BBC radio show playing at the time", etc.
Haste makes for poor writing.
Please forgive me, Bishop.

Feb 1, 2011 at 8:06 PM | Unregistered Commenterhunter

Did anyone notice Dellingpole's classic verbal stumble - no doubt carefully selected from days and days of footage:

Dellingppole: "Critics say we just don't want to give up our lifestyle, and that's why we deny the truth. That's not the reason. It's because we've looked at the facts and..." Doh!

And how about the 'right to reply' the programme maker kindly granted Monckton: Bad lighting, shakey camera, Monckton looking distinctly upset, dubbed-over with inappropriate music. All tried and tested methods of making the speaker look shifty and untrustworthy.

Probably the most biased climate change program I've seen on the BBC - and that's saying something.

Feb 1, 2011 at 10:45 PM | Unregistered CommenterChilli

Hunter: "...AGW is mostly a social movement that has obsessed on unclear science"

Most succinct, while accurate, description to date. Bravo

Feb 2, 2011 at 2:46 AM | Unregistered Commenterj ferguson

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