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« AR5 inquiry followup | Main | Causes for the pause »
Wednesday
Mar262014

Press Gazette does "debate"

The Press Gazette, a sort of trade mag for the more disreputable members of the journalistic profession, has held a debate on science coverage in the media, particularly on the BBC, inviting familar names like Bob Ward, Fiona Fox and Steve Jones to take part plus other less well known but equally stern climate policemen.

The Gazette's editor, Dominic Ponsford, was effusive in his praise for their performance in what he called this "debate". There's something slightly Orwellian about it all isn't there?

Ponsford's report on events is here.

 

 

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Reader Comments (49)

There's some good news in the headline of Ponsford's report:
"BBC News sticking two fingers up to management' says prof behind Trust's science impartiality report”

Apparently, journalists are not doing what Professor Jones told their management they should be doing. They're doing what they feel like doing. Interviewing Lord Lawson, for example, who is shown looking rather elderly in a photo evidently meant to underline the message that Lord Lawson should be airbrushed from history, by order of Steve Jones and Bob Ward.
Will someone here please raise a tiny two cheers for the BBC and its tradition of independent journalism?

Mar 26, 2014 at 9:12 PM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Wow.

Professor Jones simply lied, and lied repeatedly. Lord Lawson does not deny climate change. Lord Lawson was right that there is no recorded increase in extreme weather events. There is no evidence at all that "...less than one per cent [of published papers] disagree with the idea that humans are the main driver of climate change."

Regardless of the fallacies underlying these arguments, they are simply lies!

Mar 26, 2014 at 9:13 PM | Unregistered CommenterDoubting Rich

Bishop Hill, you have a lot to answer for, I clicked your Alice Bell link and read a few comments.
A sleepless night is now on the cards!

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:10 PM | Unregistered CommenterMartyn

Indeed, Geoff, more that two cheers.

But just look at the pressure Auntie comes under if she defies 'The Balance'.

The debate's called Are there really two sides to every science story?

Speakers?

Professor Steve Jones who published a report for the BBC Trust in 2011 in which he argued that the corporation gave too much weight to fringe scientific viewpoints on subjects such as climate change, GM crops and MMR.

The other panelists are:

BBC head of news programmes Ceri Thomas

Bob Ward – Policy and research director of the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change

Michael Hanlon – Science writer and author, former science editor of the Daily Mail

Ceri Thomas isn't even mentioned in the official report. Whatever she said, do you think she felt applauded and appreciated for her commitment to upholding the 'BBC and its tradition of independent journalism'? Did she immediately book Lord Lawson, Matt Ridley and Paul Dennis (why not?) for her next show?

The process of public punishment is obscene. But still the makers of Newshour, on the World Service yesterday, stuck another two fingers up at the Stalinists, even as the debate was going on.

As I said, more than two cheers for that.

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:14 PM | Registered CommenterRichard Drake

It is a bit like Animal farm when the pigs banish Snowball and then blame him for everything.

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:45 PM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

BBC bias is making a very large number of people very angry indeed. As we approach decision time on the future of BBC funding, they deserve everything they get, or don't get, to be more accurate.

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:52 PM | Unregistered CommenterSC

Strange that I seem to see Pravda when I hear the letters BBC!

How long can the BBC continue to stiffle the climate debate?

Mar 26, 2014 at 11:25 PM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

It always hurts to witness your heroes making a serious mistake, but the pain grows less every time Steve Jones repeats his error. Complaining about Lord Lawson won't change the surface or satellite temperature data.

Mar 26, 2014 at 11:58 PM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

This is the only kind of debate the alarmists will ever win.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:31 AM | Unregistered CommenterJamesG

"Describing the likes of Lord Lawson as being part of a “despicable gang”, professor Jones said...". He is a scientist so he must know.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterBetapug

Alice Bell may, or may not, be nuanced at the Guardian, but their pass notes certainly wasn't a few days ago when the following words appeared

That seems a little crazy. He once said: "We exhale CO2. If it were a poison, it wouldn't be a part of the way we stay alive."

And this idiot writes children's books? Yup.

Denial of basic biochemistry is all in a day's work at the Guardian, it seems. The target of their ire was Rush Limbaugh.

I've never given much thought to Rush Limbaugh before, but he just went up in my estimation. I think I only learned about the photosynthetic biochemistry of carbon dioxide when I was between about 7 and 11 years old. Knowledge of its role in the regulation of human breathing rate came a few years later. I hope he puts the information in his children's books.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:42 AM | Unregistered Commentermichael hart

@Michael Hart
It always hurts to witness your heroes making a serious mistake, but the pain grows less every time Steve Jones repeats his error.'
So true.
At one time, long gone now, accomplished Scientists would be almost guaranteed a lifetime of respect for their achievements.
Gleick, Jones, Hansen and Nurse spring to mind.
Sadly, for me and it seems for many others, they have trashed their reputations by revealing a side to their natures that I find deeply distasteful and antithetical to the Science that they claim to represent.
Where once I would have admired them for their work, I now despise them for their petty mindedness, intolerance and spiteful egotism.
They have wholeheartedly hitched their wagons to a political popularism born of a virulent strain of capitalism, interbred with faux-environmental statism all ably protected by a Brigand army of thuggish individuals whom they employ to attack any who dare question their status.
These, once eminent men, think nothing of redefining the English language to suit their purposes- Deniers or, its bowdlerised form, contrarians is used as an insult that equates policy disagreements or less than catastrophic hallelujahs with denial of science and the 'Greenhouse' effect. Climate change now means Anthropogenic climate change. They've successfully anthropomorphised 4 billion years of Climate into Mr 4x4 Boogie Man.
They've bet not just their shirts on their wagers but their legacy of respect that they once would have been guaranteed.
I don't know what will happen to their shirts but I do know the outcome of what has happened to their legacy.
It's been blown away!

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:35 AM | Unregistered CommenterRoyFOMR

There is a popular fallacy about that all “deniers” (a.k.a. sceptics of the new religion) are right-wing. I know that this is not true, as I look to myself – according to the Political Compass site, I am further left than even I thought! I am sure others may come up with other, more notable, examples.

What does appear to be true, though, is that all the “alarmists” (or AGWists, or doom-mongers) are definitely left-wing. Why should this be?

Mar 27, 2014 at 4:14 AM | Unregistered CommenterRadical Rodent

What does appear to be true, though, is that all the “alarmists” (or AGWists, or doom-mongers) are definitely left-wing. Why should this be?

A generalisation: maybe 'left' and 'right' aren't useful descriptions of the political spectrum (they were Stalin's words, apparently)? It's still more about 'collective' and 'individual' - the former has boiled down to 'Big State' whereas the latter still encompasses diverse views around a common theme of self-reliance.

I'll get off my high horse ...

Richard

Mar 27, 2014 at 7:34 AM | Unregistered CommenterOld Forge

Radical Rodent
Thanks for the mention of the Political Compass - very interesting.

Mar 27, 2014 at 7:50 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

Bish, I am in complete opposition to your pejorative:

"a sort of trade mag for the more disreputable members of the journalistic profession"

Good Lord, many of the very best journalists have been "disreputable." No question, they were drinkers, gamblers, woman or men-anisers and so on.

I think that you should clarify your meaning here.

Mar 27, 2014 at 8:15 AM | Registered Commenterjohanna

I was never disreputable (Mrs J would never have permitted such things) but the Press Gazette was a regular on my desk for the best part of 20 years. It appears that like so many other things it has got itself caught in the GW mire. I would have expected better of it.

Mar 27, 2014 at 8:37 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

What does appear to be true, though, is that all the “alarmists” (or AGWists, or doom-mongers) are definitely left-wing.

I've never pictured Prince Charles as terribly left wing.

You know how the sceptics point out that it only takes one exception to prove that a "rule" is wrong. Well, I challenge you to accept that, actually, not all alarmists are left-wing. My be, however, is that you will try to claim the Prince as a secret leftie.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:15 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

My bet, however, is that you will try to claim the Prince as a secret leftie.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:17 AM | Unregistered CommenterMooloo

Radical Rodent

Thanks for the Political Compass

Libertarian Lemur

:)

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:18 AM | Unregistered Commenterssat

Radical Rodent, I set up a discussion topic about your point at
http://www.bishop-hill.net/discussion/post/2271205
listing a number of reasonably prominent left-wing sceptics.
When I took the political compass test I came out slightly left, slightly libertarian.


This morning's news is the failure of energy privatisation. Maybe when the lights go out (which interestingly the head of one of the big 6 did not argue against on Today) people will realise the absurdity of having different energy 'suppliers' when the stuff all comes down the same pipes/wires, and we can go back to a sensible nationalised system. :)

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Will someone here please raise a tiny two cheers for the BBC and its tradition of independent journalism?

Not me. It is a den of nasty little bureaucrats who use the UK taxpayer's money as if it were confetti. What media company wouldn"t give their right arm and most of their body for more than £3billion / an and then the BBC use it to pay terrorist organisations to control the people who paid them.

I hope that eventually the british will come to their senses and deal harshly with their Met Off and the BBC.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:22 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

Mooloo
Neither could you have called Margaret Thatcher "terribly left wing" but she was badly advised as is Charles.
On the other hand I suspect that on the Political Compass test he could well fit into the "leftie" bracket given his support for all things green.
I don't think Rodent is quite correct to say that all alarmists are left-wing but there does seem to be a correlation between the alarmist position and what might be called the "anti-libertarians".
It would probably be more accurate to say that the doom-mongers come from the control-freak tendency which is more often associated (rightly or wrongly) with the political left.

Incidentally I took the Political Compass test and ended up as near as dammit on the centre spot! What that says about me I'm not sure. Nothing good, probably.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:27 AM | Registered CommenterMike Jackson

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:19 AM | Registered Commenter Paul Matthews

When I took the political compass test I came out slightly left, slightly libertarian.

Strangely I always thought I was capitalist. I own a € few thousand of shares and bond, believe that social security should be a safety net and not a garantee and I despise authority.

BUT, I also felt it entirely wrong to privatise the essentials for life ; water, energy 'gas & electricity' and, even more bizzarly, railways.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:29 AM | Unregistered CommenterStephen Richards

No not all alarmists are lefties

Prince Charles - hardly a leftie perhaps mad
Lord Deben
Tim Yeo
Barak Obama - the Americans might think he is a leftie but he is not
etc., etc.

Money transcends politics!

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:37 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Paul Matthews/Stephen Richards

Looks like RR started a trend, as a slightly right - slightly libertarian I have to agree that things like water and energy do need some sort of sensible control by elected politicians, and the current system seems to have produced a very poor solution. I was never convinced by the argument that water and energy companies would use investors and money from markets to fund better and cleaner supplies. Basically these are cash cows for mainly non-UK businesses any politician that allows that to happen is risking an introduction to a rope and lamppost when the lights and heating go out.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:39 AM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

In her first paragraph, Alice uncritically quotes Simon Lewis' claim that the Lawson/Hoskins debate was a "clear failure of BBC editorial guidelines". In his linked Nature article, Lewis makes this claim on the grounds that Lawson incorrectly stated "there had been no recent global increase in air temperature and that measurements of ocean temperature were 'pure speculation'". Lest a reader underestimates the gravity of the situation, Lewis elaborates: "The BBC must not knowingly and materially mislead its audiences. We should not distort known facts."

I suppose it depends on what the precise meaning of "recent" is, but surely it is self-evident from the the main temperature series that Lawson's observation in this respect is perfectly reasonable. Certainly, what Lawson said does not remotely approach the orbit of materially misleading the audience.

With regard to his comment on ocean temperature measurements, Lawson is on slightly weaker ground, it never being a good idea to use hyperbole when debating Granthamites, who are adept at the strategic nit-pick. However, the basic underlying point is a reasonable one. Not only was the pre-ARGO data riddled with large uncertainties, but the warming suggested by the ARGO data itself, particularly within the deeper layer, is less than the instrumental measurement error.

While not scientifically precise, it is not unreasonable in commonplace language to describe as speculative a purported trend that is less than the data measurement error.

I suppose we must conclude from Simon Lewis' article that Nature does not have any guidelines that require it "must not knowingly and materially mislead its readers." Or, more likely, the guidelines are never enforced when the offender advocates for the home team.

And, it does not do Alice much credit that the reference she used as a launchpad for her article is so lacking in rigour. I propose the following revision to the Monbiot maxim: "but let [journalists] do some sodding research first".

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:40 AM | Unregistered Commenterigsy

The left v right issue has puzzled me for many years. Over time I have become more comfortable and probably less idealistic but still at heart a libertarian. 40 years ago when I was a student the authoritarians seemed to be on the right wing, now it seems that most of them are on the left. The old "cut their hair and put them in the army for some discipline" line has been replaced by "no platform for deniers" and the whole sorry BBC bias saga.
I think it just goes to show that these dividing lines are constantly shifting.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:46 AM | Unregistered CommenterDavid S

Radical Rodent, Paul Matthews
The questions on the Political Compass were designed a few years ago, when sexual and other forms of tolerance were considered rather daring. I think of myself as an Old Labour statist left-winger in favour of e.g. nationalising the energy system, but according to Political Compass I'm slightly more libertarian than Gandhi.
I don't see being on the left as a causal factor in warmism. Rather, both are effects of a shift in the class system whereby education (rather than wealth or”breeding”) has become the prime factor in identifying the dominant class. We university-educated types define ourselves, Ronny Barker-like, by our intellectual superiority to the oiks, and our moral superiority over the toffs. What better measure of our superiority, and our status as a class, than our carbon footprint?

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:47 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Linky to Met Office press release shows '404 not found' message.

I searched the phrase "head in the sand" on the tangled Met web and rediscovered it here.

The things you can dig out of the sand.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:55 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

LOL. I put on my tin hat expecting to be attacked, and instead find that people are agreeing with me.

Mar 27, 2014 at 9:57 AM | Registered CommenterPaul Matthews

Also, this entertaining 2009 debate between a certain journalist and a certain scientist on ABC's Lateline [transcript] is worth revisiting considering what has happened since then.

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:07 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

SandyS, Stephen Richards
It's nice to see the subject of state control of key industries (nationalisation) getting an airing here. It will no doubt be met with the standard conservative criticism so ably used by Mrs Thatcher, that nationalised industries inevitably turn into inefficient bureaucratic monsters. There's plenty of evidence to support that of course, and if we had a proper leftwing party in Britain they'd be urgently tackling that question.
Part of the problem with postwar nationalisation, I think, lies in the social structure of the Labour leadership. The nobs with their Oxbridge PPEs who run the party have always divided up the important posts (Treasury, Foreign Office) between themselves, leaving the nationalised industries (transport, post office) to be run by retired trade union officials and the like. A clever Tory could run rings round these guys, so every time the price of posting a letter went up a halfpenny, or trains were delayed by fog, they could make it appear to be a failure of the great socialist experiment. The final victory over socialism was of course Thatcher's in the Winter of Discontent, when the ground was too frozen for burials, and Thatcher made out it was all Callaghan's fault for not screwing the low paid workers hard enough.
Enough of my off-topic rant. Who decides how much gas, how much wind, how much solar in an efficiently run democratic society is the key question.

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:13 AM | Registered Commentergeoffchambers

Mooloo: "My bet, however, is that you will try to claim the Prince as a secret leftie."


Not him. Charlie believes in climate change because he has investments in insurance industry which is honestly really truly concerned about CAGW.

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:17 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Comrade, geoffchambers, it is great rubbing shoulders with you. (Cue, laughter)

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:18 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

Honest, I hope you won't stop commenting even if you stop blogging.

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:21 AM | Unregistered CommentersHx

A balanced debate?

What did the BBC do 8 years ago, (before Jones)

http://www.bbc.co.uk/pressoffice/pressreleases/stories/2006/02_february/14/climate.shtml

Mar 27, 2014 at 10:33 AM | Unregistered CommenterCharmingQuark

Geoff, not a one of those industries was started by the government. Not water, health, electricity, gas, rail, none of it. Most was private initiative, some was local government. When they are run by government, not only do they inevitably deteriorate into bureaucratic monopolies, they end up competing for investment with all the other things governments do, to the detriment of their customers. At worst they become political footballs reversing course with every election.

It just does not work, and applying nationalisation to 'essentials' does not change that fact. Every last one of your essentials can be better done by private or local concerns and there is no real (rather than emotional) reason why they should not. And never should they be monopolies, never should they have special lobbying rights, never should they be subsidised. The final three provisos of course are not in place with most of the privatised industries we have now, worst of all worlds really.

Mar 27, 2014 at 11:39 AM | Unregistered Commenterrhoda

This morning's news is the failure of energy privatisation. Maybe when the lights go out (which interestingly the head of one of the big 6 did not argue against on Today) people will realise the absurdity of having different energy 'suppliers' when the stuff all comes down the same pipes/wires, and we can go back to a sensible nationalised system

The problem is we have a nationalised system, regulated within an inch of its life to provide uneconomic energy at the behest of the politicians. The Big 6 are merely PFI subcontractors. Take them out of it, and you'd still have the same disastrous energy policy, with the last vestiges of competition removed.

Mar 27, 2014 at 11:52 AM | Unregistered CommenterIt doesn't add up...

If this is true, I look forward to an objective analysis by the BBC.

http://www.thegwpf.org/global-warming-will-not-cost-the-earth-leaked-ipcc-report-admits/

Mar 27, 2014 at 11:59 AM | Unregistered CommenterSteve Jones

re nationalising electricity industry

This is an idea I too am fast warming up to.

In Australia, state ownership of businesses was abandoned under Labor Party government, so it is hard to blame right-wingers for that. This act was part of a broader agenda known as 'economic rationalisation' (AKA Thatcherism in UK and Reaganomics in the US), and it freed sizable chunks of the economy from direct political interference. It also freed politicians from taking direct damage each time a state owned business went belly up.

Today, the entire car manufacturing sector can pack up and leave Australia costing tens of thousands of jobs and losing billions to local economies, and yet the politicians can blame it on markets and regulations and taxes and so on, and move on without a lasting dent in opinion polls. Had the state been an owner of car manufacturing business the government would have probably tried to keep it running no matter what, lest the politicians (the ultimate CEOs of state owned enterprises) be blamed directly for the failure.

In the Anglo-American world, the cradle of the climate doomsday hysteria, governments lean on electricity generators with heavy regulations because the rulers can make political capital out of the CO2 bogeyman without having to find and implement a way to switch from 'dirty coal' to 'clean wind' with little difficulty and cost. That would be a job for the markets to sort out, not the for politicians; the politicians' job is to 'encourage' the business, not run it ... as the chant goes.

Now, had power generation been under state ownership, what would have politicians done? Would they have forced the green agenda on the power industry directly in order to make more political capital for themselves or would they have been deeply worried about increasing power bills and lights going out losing them votes?

With a nationalised electricity generation industry, politicians would have no choice but start thinking like real coal power plant owners, operators and managers. They wouyld start listening those 'state bureaucracies' and begin treating the eco-loons pressuring them for action with much more skepticism. Nowadays, getting the electricity generation back into state control looks like the economically rational thing to do.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:15 PM | Unregistered CommentersHx

The Gazette did include this honest paragraph
"Dr Evan Harris, speaking from the audience, defended the role of good journalism noting that it took a non-science specialist journalist (Brian Deer) working for a “Murdoch newspaper” (The Sunday Times) to expose MMR “fraudster” Andrew Wakfield. .."
.. And Jones/Ward say outside challenging should be banned ?

..Never mind that we are talking about public money and they are they are saying no one has the right to challenge the assumptions that spending of that public money is based on.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:18 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

You guys might want to take off topic discussions to the Discussion board
..there might even be a thread on the UK Electricity industry already ..if not , then you can start a new thread.

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:22 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

Thanks for the laugh from that 2008 Met Office bit of propaganda ("head in the sand").
It argues that temperature will not rise monotonically, which is true as far as it goes. In evidence whereof, it contains a graph of the global temperature series highlighting a past period of lesser warming. The period they chose was 1977-1986, where the final three years were markedly cooler due to the El Chichón eruption, causing an abnormal drop in the trend. I recall seeing this sort of thing in several places, prior to the general acceptance of the "pause".

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:33 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Yep @Doubtingh Rich seems PG is quoting Bob Ward" If you look at papers published on climate change you will find that less than one per cent disagree with the idea that humans are the main driver of climate change."
that phrase appears to have no evidence ..so misleading or a lie.

..any way I should not be allowed to challenge it ..only Bob's mates can do that

Mar 27, 2014 at 12:52 PM | Registered Commenterstewgreen

In my QI Book of Advanced Banter (Oh, please indulge me) - I came across this from Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain. Boy, could that man come out with them:
'In religion and politics people's beliefs and convictions are in almost every case gotten at second-hand, and without examination, from authorities who have not themselves examined the questions at issue but have taken them at second-hand from other non-examiners, whose opinions about them were not worth a brass farthing..'
Sound familiar..?

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:13 PM | Unregistered Commentersherlock1

HaroldW - thanks for the link to the Met Office's 2008 document 'The Warming Goes On' ('anyone who thinks global warming has stopped has their head in the sand'), I had not see this before. I notice that their 2009 document "Climate Change - the facts" (complete with hockeystick graph 'prediction' on page 6) which was at http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/p/a/quick_guide.pdf is now a 404. Fortunately, Sir Humphrey has kindly archived it for posterity:

http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/+/http://www.metoffice.gov.uk/media/pdf/p/a/quick_guide.pdf

Mar 27, 2014 at 1:44 PM | Registered Commenterlapogus

lapogus -
Don't thank me - the link is in the headpost. [And it looks as though sHx corrected an incorrect URL at 9:55 AM.]

I wonder why the 2009 brochure is no longer on the website. Perhaps they're removing some of the excessive boosterism?

In which case, you might want to check out this before it too recedes into history: "By 2020, between 75 and 250 million people are projected to experience water shortages due to climate change." and "We must act now. There's no time for delay."

Mar 27, 2014 at 2:40 PM | Registered CommenterHaroldW

Press Gazette blog posts usually garner zero to two comments so this is hold the front home page stuff for them. They must be thrilled.

Maybe not if reading (most of - the few 'defences' are pathetic) the comments, but you can't have everything.

----

"BBC bias is making a very large number of people very angry indeed. As we approach decision time on the future of BBC funding, they deserve everything they get, or don't get, to be more accurate.

Mar 26, 2014 at 10:52 PM | SC"

---

Speaking of the Future of the BBC and decisions, some may or may not be aware of the current inquiry ongoing, and especially this part of just one no so long ago:

http://data.parliament.uk/writtenevidence/WrittenEvidence.svc/EvidenceHtml/5368

Q10 Angie Bray: We are talking about whether or not there are subjects that the BBC might shy away from, for whatever reason. I wonder whether I could get a comment from you on the other issue, which I think the BBC has had a very set view on in recent years, which is climate change. We have all now read about the semi-secret gathering a few years ago, which Roger Harrabin was responsible for, when the BBC decided that there was a set science now, that there was no room for any further denial that there might be manmade climate change and that they agreed that this was going to influence the way they covered the issues. Does that—

Chair: Can we please do this briefly, since we are straying an awful long way from the subject, the future of the BBC?

Angie Bray: But that is another issue, which I think needs to be addressed in terms of how they—

Chair: Okay.

Angie Bray: This may be because there is a mindset there, which kicks—

Steve Hewlett: In the case of climate change, I am not sure that there is. Just a couple of points on this. I have not read in detail the BBC’s reasons for opposing the freedom of information request, which has ultimately exposed the existence of this briefing. I am guessing—and if you know better, please do not let me put my foot in it—they would say, “This is an editorial matter and therefore, quite properly and quite rightly, outside the scope of FOI”. Is it wrong for BBC journalists and editorial executives to acquaint themselves, as fully as they can, with views from all sides of the argument about these things, and possibly do that in private and in circumstances that are not widely reported? My own personal view is I would rather they were better informed than less informed, and so probably, yes.

I am not sure how strong the case is to say that the BBC is overwhelmingly one way or the other on climate change. I think it is a difficult issue because the balance of scientific argument and evidence must be taken account of. Balance can never simply mean on one hand or the other; otherwise we would still be arguing about the world being flat. It has to take some account of where the debate has gone and what the balance of opinion is. I am not sure that I see the fact that this meeting took place and that executives went to it and discussed it, as evidence of a broader conspiracy to report in a particular way.

Angie Bray: I think you just need to look at the list of the people that were there.

Chair: Let us get back to the future of the BBC.
---

Seems a pity that just as Ms. Bray was about to lead Mr Hewlett (low on actual awareness (he claimed); high on opinion) into less comfortable areas, the chair decided to pull the plug.

Mar 27, 2014 at 4:32 PM | Unregistered CommenterJunkkMale

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