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« Tony's first reaction | Main | +++BBC Climate 28 revealed+++ »

Quote of the day

From a correspondent:
We now know that the BBC decided to abandon balance in its coverage of climate on the advice of a small coterie of green activists, including the campaign director of Greenpeace. This shows that the "shoddy journalism" of Newsnight's recent smear was no "lapse" of standards at all. BBC news programs have for years been poorly checked recitations of the work of activists.

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Reader Comments (40)

Link missing?

Nov 13, 2012 at 11:43 AM | Registered Commentershub

The key criterion for BBC journalists is to get the words 'Thatcher', 'Tory' and 'paedophile' into a sentence, and use it as much as possible. In that respect, the Newsnight programme was an unqualified success for them. They can happily shrug off a well-paid sacking or two, and the odd long-winded enquiry.

Nov 13, 2012 at 11:49 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharlie

A possibility is that the group of 28 was put together by those at the BBC who had already decided to be activists, and the consensus of the group was just cover.

Nov 13, 2012 at 11:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterDon B

BBC News

Andrew Bridgen, Philip Davies and Bob Blackman have signed a Commons motion saying the BIJ - an independent body based at City University in London - has been "totally discredited".

The motion says organisations including Oxfam, Save the Children and the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust fund the BIJ - and should stop their donations.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterLord Beaverbrook

Reminds of the NoW in the old days. If you had a story including vicars and sex you had your front page!
These days it's toffs instead of vicars; the sex has to be child abuse; and if you can work in a reference to Tories you score a maximum. It's a sort of BBC News Bingo. If you can work in a reference to Thatcher as well that instantly wins the game.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:02 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mrs Shub pointed out the same thing yesterday, Mike. When a big organization comes crashing, of all things, there is child abuse somewhere involved. I guess it just reflects the tendency to shield those who prey on the weak and innocent.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:07 PM | Registered Commentershub

What do we have so far? From the comments below the 'BBC Climate 28 revealed' post, I see this view forming:

The government funds a fake charity which has in the past served as a front group for environmentalists while posing as a development organisation, and which helped organise privileged mass lobbying to promote their views at the BBC. One consequence of which was the apparent persuading of the BBC to drop all pretence of, ho-ho, impartiality and continue climate campaigning with a clear conscience (or, at least until now, with a fall-back story about getting deep scientific advice).

Corrections or omissions anyone?

[Definition of a fake charity: "We define a Fake Charity as any organisation registered as a UK charity that derives more than 10% of its income—and/or more than £1 million—from the government, while also lobbying the government."

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohn Shade

Every organisation reflects its Chief. Expect great multimedia at the NYT, where loads of pure rubbish will be distributed from.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:15 PM | Registered Commenteromnologos

Out of interest, what do BH think should be the policy of the BBC on climate science? Should each news item or discussion of the science include a sceptical scientist? Or just any sceptic? Would you be happy to see skydragons, for example, representing the sceptic side and if not who gets to chose who appears and how?

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Who is the correspondent please?

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:29 PM | Unregistered CommenterJack Cowper

Spare a thought for Tony Newbery. Though his dogged persistence didn't directly get the names into the public domain, it did show us very clearly what great lengths the BBC was prepared to go to in order to hide its climate activism, and will be a useful weapon in getting the BBC's supposed protection from FOI rescinded. Three cheers for Tony!

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:41 PM | Unregistered CommenterDavid C

So Mike Hulme of the Tyndall Centre funds CMEP to run these seminars, Mike appears at the seminars, and Mike invited BBC's Roger HArrabin (and Co founder of CMEP) onto the Tyndall Centres advisory board at the same time as all these seminars, whilst funding these seminars..


From the Climategate 2 emails, Mike Hulmes (Tyndall) intentions are clear for CMEP seminars, persuade the BBC to keeps sceptics (in this case Prof Philip Stott) off the airwaves.

Mike Hulme:

“Did anyone hear Stott vs. Houghton on Today, radio 4 this morning? Woeful stuff really. This is one reason why Tyndall is sponsoring the Cambridge Media/Environment Programme to starve this type of reporting at source.” (email 2496)

When did Roger Harrabin step down from Tyndall advisory board
(and he no made no mention, when reporting BBC climategate, of connections)

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

What chance a FOI request on the (our) money spent (wasted) by the BBC on the futile refusal to accede to a FOI request when the information was already in the public domain.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Unregistered CommenterBill Irvine

Bucket, the BBC ought to stick to its charter. Editors would decide how to do that, and policy would be decided in an open way. There is no central sceptic authority to nominate representatives, as you know very well. Presumably if the item covered radiative physics a skydragon( as you call it, but in reality CO2 is the skydragon, the ones who deny it are slayers) would be appropriate. Let him make his case, if he can. Perhaps when they were doing, say, energy policy, they might ask GWPF to put up a speaker. If paleo, maybe Loehle. If model predictions, Lindzen maybe. It isn't difficult to find some sort of balance. Try to frame your smartarse questions a little better.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:45 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

For Bitbucket:

When the BBC consults the so called 'best experts' it would have been nice, shall we say to invite the Met Office, or the Hadley Centre along to these seminars.!!

ie the UK experts, (with VERY close links to he BBC) of attribution of climate change were NOT present

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

Would you be happy to see skydragons, for example, representing the sceptic side?

Why not? They are not all pedophiles are they?

Anyone who has anything coherent and reasonable an argument to present should qualify. The fake concept of "false balance" comes from the minds of dullard social scientists who conduct 'research' to confirm their pet prejudices that common people cannot listen to two people presenting their arguments, and not be confused.

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:46 PM | Registered Commentershub

Shamelessly ripped from Guido.

Dodgy Geezer says:
November 13, 2012 at 12:57 pm
There are lies within lies in this story.

The seminar we are talking about was not originally intended to be a ‘policy-making’ meeting.

What happened is that the BBC unilaterally dropped their Charter requirement to provide balance in reporting Global Warming, purely due to internal activists. This change was noticed by outside bloggers, who started asking questions about why the BBC was in breach of its Charter.

So, to shut them up, the BBC responded that they had duly considered the issue, and received proper scientific advice that there was no real controversy. They picked a recent internal seminar (which had been held to promulgate the Global Warming message to internal BBC staff) and claimed that this comprised ‘the top scientific brains’ who had provided this policy advice. There had been NO minutes – odd, for such a fundamental policy decision.

That was meant to shut up the bloggers, who were crying for more details. The meeting was retrospectively claimed to be under the non-attributable Chatham House Rules, which neatly made it unable to be investigated.

Blogger Tony Newbery submitted a FOI request for the names of these august scientists who had advised the BBC to drop its impartiality position. The BBC fought this tooth and nail, finally spending a 6-figure sum on barristers and packing the Tribunal where, last Friday, the request was rejected on the spurious grounds that the BBC could consider itself to be a private organisation if it wanted to keep secrets from the public.

Now we can see that the meeting which was claimed to be with a policy-defining group of top scientists was, in fact, an activist jolly/propaganda exercise. And trying to hide this has cost the BBC a lot of money and face.

I wonder whether charges of perjury are in order?

Of course our new Troll Bitbucket thinks that these machinations are OK for a public body funded by the UK viewing public with a Charter alleging impartiality.

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:05 PM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air

Rhoda's answer is the right one. We can't and shouldn't seek to censor skydragons. Individual journalists should make the call, as best they can. But, to help them, we are free to make a distinction between slayers and a diverse group like Richard Lindzen, Judy Curry and Roy Spencer. I'd say these are the serious sceptics - sorry Judy. And, coming up on the rails, Nic Lewis. And Nic resides much closer to Broadcasting House, if that still matters.

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterRichard Drake

Shamelessly borrowed from WUWT comments:

Oh no. The LIES.

Here is the reply made by the BBC to blogger Tony Newbery who made a Freedom of Information Request to find out the names of the attendees. [my bold]

………The attendees at the seminar were made up of 30 key BBC staff and 30 invited guests who are specialists in the area of climate change. It was hosted by Jana Bennett, Director of Vision (then Television), BBC and Helen Boaden, Director of News BBC. It was chaired by Fergal Keane, Special Correspondent with BBC News. The key speaker at the seminar was Robert McCredie, Lord May of Oxford.

Seminar had the following aims:

· To offer a clear summary of the state of knowledge on the issue
· To find where the main debates lie
· To invoke imagination to allow the media to deal with the scope of the issue
· To consider the BBC’s role in public debate.

Letter from the BBC, 21st August, 2007

Yeah, right. Here are some of the “specialists”. :-p
Blake Lee-Harwood, Head of Campaigns, Greenpeace
Andrew Dlugolecki, Insurance industry consultant
Trevor Evans, US Embassy
Anuradha Vittachi, Director,
Claire Foster, Church of England
Li Moxuan, Climate campaigner, Greenpeace China
Kevin McCullough, Director, Npower Renewables

How can you trust the British Bias Corporation on climate issues?

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:11 PM | Unregistered CommenterBarry Woods

They, the BBC, will simply ignore the whole thing hoping it will go away. Our politicians won't hear of it, or be interested if they do because the Greens have put in place and extremely well organised, and dare I say successful, campaign to paint everyone who doubts the theory of CAGW as flat-earthers, creationists and conspiracy theory nuts. If they do let anyone speak, they'll try to find the stereotype, put him/her against a very reasonable looking Met Office scientistand and say, "Look, we told you so." Lindzen for instance won't be called upon, nor Freeman Dyson. The public cannot see that there are reasonable, articulate, scientists and Nobel Laureates (real ones too) on the side of scepticism.

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:12 PM | Unregistered Commentergeronimo

Since the "debate is settled", I fail to see why should anyone outside of the skeptic community be "shocked" at the news that the winning side of that (previous) debate is running the show in the television networks.

Of course, I usually fail to see why should anyone that only "cares" about science to denigrate "science deniers" and "creotards" think about these subject matters in a serious fashion.

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:22 PM | Unregistered CommenterLuis Dias

Twice in a decade the Director General of the BBC has had to quit because a single source was used and the source wasn't checked out correctly.
It doesn't matter whether the BBC may have guessed right or wrong; they were guessing.

Here we have the same thing writ large. They have taken a single viewpoint (Green) and guessed it's right.
They haven't raised any basic questions of alarmists climate scientists like:
What is your evidence?
What could disprove it?
What is the null hypothesis?

They just guessed.

In the private sector when the NOTW misbehaved it was closed down and everyone associated sacked.
Not even Newsnight has been closed down by our wagon-circling Auntie.

Nov 13, 2012 at 1:28 PM | Unregistered CommenterM Courtney

Well all of this is par for the course and much to be expected but I see we have another big Green recantation in progress - another mess by the same group of people who advised Aunty to go down the route of Total Partiality.

This is a bigger story than the BBC ultimately - as Matt Ridley pointed out in this article

The governments 20% by 2020 strategy is based on importing (80%) and burning bio-mass. Apart from being wrong-headed and delusional, it leads to other pieces of stupidity such as the banning of LPG in new rural house builds from 2016 - forcing people to use heat pumps (of exaggerated efficiency) for heating, because they use electricity - and the government will say electricity is renewable!!!!!!! based on burning bio-mass.

Our government, that understands engineering and science about as well as I do brain surgery, took the advice of the very groups that are now saying they are against this to implement that policy.

Greenpeace and FofE are now taking a 180 deg opposite view of bio-mass and bio-fuels in general than they did a decade ago. People who were against it then (many engineers) were rudely dismissed as "deniers" and Big Oil shills. Does that sound familiar?

Nov 13, 2012 at 2:00 PM | Registered Commenterretireddave

Well, as its open house on BBC at the mo, this story - esp highlighting the waste of money defending a situation where info was freely available anyway, as the headline, might get some traction from NI peeps and other media wanting to twist the knife? Esp after the BBC/Guardian nexus with Leveson. Anyone know any journo's that want to stick the boot in. It sounds like a Booker/Delingpole piece in the making....anyone got a contact/send them the info?
See, what we really need in the uk is an alternative tv news me I've got it. Fox!
Oh yeah....the boss of that is not a fit and proper person to run a tv news station, unlike that bastion of truth the BBC of course. Seriously though, while I may treat Fox with the same distain as I do the BBC, sometimes you need polar opposites to make people question what they are hearing. As BBC news (via BBC/ITV/Ch4/Sky) finds its way into pretty much every household its hardly surprising most people are unaware of what really goes on. Depressing isn't it.

Nov 13, 2012 at 2:05 PM | Unregistered Commentermikef2

I'll add my twopennyworth but essentially rhoda gave you the answer.
I don't expect the BBC to have a "policy" on climate change or, indeed, on anything else. Their job is to report the news, not to make it or to influence it or to decide what spin to put on it.
When a press release arrives from Greenpeace or FoE or CRU I expect it to receive exactly the same critical journalistic appraisal as one emanating from the GWPF or from any of the sceptical scientists currently working in the field.
Where the BBC chooses (and it has the right to choose what subjects it covers on programmes such as Horizon — as one example — not to take any particular editorial stance on the subject) to make an in-depth programme on climate change it has an obligation under its Charter to present a balanced view on the subject as it does on any subject.
This applies especially where science is concerned since by definition science is never a settled matter and there will always be new research which reinforces, contradicts, or expands on the current beliefs.
Where science meets politics I would expect any responsible news organisation to be critical of the received wisdom.
"This is costing the taxpayer an arm and a leg. How sure are you that you've got it right?" should only be the starting point for the responsible journalist.
And certainly there can be no excuse for using the resources of comedy, drama, and children's TV in order to push a BBC view about any subject. In the simplest of terms, that is not what the BBC is for.

Nov 13, 2012 at 2:07 PM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

oops....apologies for earlier post. All covered way before me.
...I'll get my coat...

Nov 13, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered Commentermikef2

Mike Jackson said:

I don't expect the BBC to have a "policy" on climate change or, indeed, on anything else. Their job is to report the news, not to make it or to influence it or to decide what spin to put on it.

The BBC does far more than just news. It has an obligation to inform, educate and entertain.

If the Charter obligation to be impartial is to be upheld I cannot see the BBC achieving that whilst still being such a massive entertainment organisation - we can see how the woolly thinking infects drama, schools programming and other kinds of shows.

We can also see by the actions of the International Broadcasting Trust, heavily dependent on DFID funding, appears to lead to Government policies shaping BBC editorial decisions in a roundabout manner rather than a transparent and accountable manner. DFID has been involved with the IBT almost since the Department's creation by the last Government.

But the infection goes beyond the BBC as that link above demonstrates:

On the media front [DFID] have a research project which is working with major television companies to examine the coverage of developing country issues through television. We have a steering group comprising senior representatives of BBC, Channel 4, channel 5, ITN, discovery channel and the ITC . We hope to get together with a wider group of broadcasting representatives at the end of the year to examine and discuss the results and decide how to take the findings forward.

Nov 13, 2012 at 2:49 PM | Unregistered CommenterGareth

So the BBC spent our money on trying to prevent information getting out to us on its own wrongdoing over failure to observe impartiality on climate change science. Is there no way of making those responsible pay it back?

Nov 13, 2012 at 3:34 PM | Unregistered CommenterNigel

Mmm, on giving slayers a voice, how does this work? Imagine you are a producer. Clearly you will have no expert knowledge of what your program is about so you will have to ask those who do. If you are covering greenhouse gasses you can find any number of physicists who can tell you how the greenhouse effect works. You might also find a friend's dog who can explain very convincingly (to you) that there can be no such thing as a greenhouse effect. You have no way of knowing who is right and your general viewers are certainly unable to decide between the two views Yet if you give the two views equal and unbiased coverage you are delegating the task of deciding to viewers.

What to do? You ask around for some sort of reference and you find that all of your contacts tell you the mutt is a crank. You have various options:
1. Give both views equal and unbiased coverage as you are told the charter requires and mislead your viewers (hardly what the charter intended)?
2. Dedicate most of the program to the accepted science and a tiny part to the mutt in the interest of balance?
3. As 2. but give the viewer the clear impression that most people think the mutt is a crank?
4. Omit the crank altogether?
5. You could let the mutt argue with the physicist, which might make more entertaining TV (although for the correct balance he should argue with a thousand physicists). But one to one argument would exaggerate the status of the mutt and would leave the audience thinking that there is doubt where there is none.
6. Settle the argument with a bout of mud wrestling... there are doubtless other options.

Of my options, numbers 5 and 6 would be more entertaining for many people, but number 4 would seem the most educational option, with 3 as a runner-up giving a fig leaf of balance.

Nov 13, 2012 at 4:09 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

Such smartarse questions, so little content.

If there are conflicting scientific theories we'd try to propose falsifiabilty criteria. You know, the thing which doesn't apply to CAGW. Presumably CO2 GHE theorists have a comprehensive chain of experiment and observation to link Arhenius with drowning polar bears whilst excluding natural variation, every link of which is verifiable. I have found it difficult to find that chain, that is why I asked here, to no avail.

Nov 13, 2012 at 4:39 PM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

BitBucket -

"…who can tell you how the greenhouse effect works."

That is a straw man.

"…a friend's dog who can explain…"

That is question-begging.

"You have no way of knowing who is right."

Unless you're willing to try thinking.

"…your general viewers are certainly unable to decide…"

So they must take your experts on faith?

"all of your contacts…"

How do you decide whom to contact?

…"most people think…"

Truth is determined by majority vote?

It seems you simply cannot wrap your mind around the idea that some people are able and willing to think.

Nov 13, 2012 at 4:48 PM | Unregistered Commenterbiff33

Please stop feeding the troll.

Nov 13, 2012 at 5:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterBig Oil

Here's an easy way for the BBC to achieve balance:

Get the climate expert of their choice and the Bishop on together, with no one else, for 30 minutes.

The Bishop gets to ask the scientist interesting, illuminating questions about the science, and the climate expert has to answer them -- without any reference to consensus.

At the end of the program, viewers will understand the issues much better than at the beginning.

Nov 13, 2012 at 5:41 PM | Unregistered Commenterbiff33

Rhoda, "Such smartarse questions, so little content.", Content? You mean like "facts". You like facts don't you! Why would there be content? It is a question, but I grant you, it is a difficult one if you consider it honestly.

Nov 13, 2012 at 5:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterBitBucket

We now know that the BBC decided to abandon balance in its coverage of climate on the advice of a small coterie of business lobbyists and sceptical journalists including author Richard D North, the man who has forced several embarrassing apologies and retractions in the UK press with his inaccurate and defamatory pieces on the IPCC and climate scientists, plus the Head of energy at the Confederation of British Industry (the most powerful UK lobby group for business and industrial interests), a senior executive from BP, the oil and energy giant, a Director from nPower, one of the 'Big Six' UK energy companies, a representative from the insurance industry, a scientific advisor to the UK Government and a dozen or so distinguished specialists in the Environmental and climate sciences, with several hundred published papers to their names.

Fixed That For You.

Nov 13, 2012 at 6:58 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

You know things are going well when the trolls come at you with weapons forged from the finest blancmange.

Nov 13, 2012 at 7:56 PM | Unregistered CommenterJames Evans

The clownish Phil Clarke has the Norths confused.

'Fixed' that indeed.

Nov 13, 2012 at 8:45 PM | Registered Commentershub

Nov 13, 2012 at 12:44 PM | Barry Woods

So Mike Hulme of the Tyndall Centre funds CMEP to run these seminars, Mike appears at the seminars, and Mike invited BBC's Roger HArrabin (and Co founder of CMEP) onto the Tyndall Centres advisory board at the same time as all these seminars, whilst funding these seminars..

Ah, Yes! Mike Hulme ... the teflon-man whose fingers have been in so many pies, and whose role has never been subjected to scrutiny or investigation.

Whose emails were excluded from examination (such as it was) by Muir Russell? Mike Hulme's.

Whose contribution of "evidence" submitted to Muir Russell consisted solely of:

I would like to draw the attention of the Review Team to the following article, which I hereby attach:

Ungar,S. and Bray,D. (2005) Silencing science: partisanship and the career of a publication disputing the dangers of secondhand smoke Public Understanding of Science 14, 5-23 [24 Feb 10]

It is the report of a careful investigation into the dynamics between scientific evidence, the ethics of science, peer-review publishing and policy advocacy for the case of a paper published in 2003 which challenged the orthodoxy that passive smoking is injurious to health. Although not directly related to the present issues under investigation, the wider context it illuminates is highly relevant to your terms of reference and I believe the Review Team would be well-informed were they to read it.

Mike Hulme.

Who gave us such thoughtful gems as:

the idea of climate change is so plastic, it can be deployed across many of our human projects and can serve many of our psychological, ethical and spiritual needs.

We will continue to create and tell new stories** about climate change and mobilize them in support of our projects

Mike Hulme.

** Speaking of telling stories ... Hulme's CMEP associate, Joe Smith (as noted in a 2005 paper discovered by Tallbloke) seemed to echo - or presage - these sentiments when he wrote:

This article explores the role of broadcast news media decisionmakers in shaping public understanding and debate of climate change risks. It locates the media within a “tangled web” of communication and debate between sources, media, and publics. The article draws on new qualitative research in the British context. The main body of it focuses on media source strategies, on climate change storytelling in news, and the “myth of detachment” sustained by many news decisionmakers. [emphasis added -hro]

But I digress ...

Who made a very significant contribution to the 1997 (pre-Kyoto) Climate Consensus Coordinators' Cookbook?? Mike Hulme.

YMMV, but IMHO, Mike Hulme has certainly left a trail of far too many unanswered questions ... not to mention those unasked.

Nov 13, 2012 at 10:46 PM | Registered CommenterHilary Ostrov

Dammit. Its true I did confuse my Richard Norths. I'm terrible with names, me - I can't even tell the difference between the moderators and posters at WUWT ....

Nov 14, 2012 at 8:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterPhil Clarke

Great post. let's hope this blows the BBC into history.

Nov 19, 2012 at 2:35 PM | Unregistered CommenterJohnpd

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