The BBC has been censured for allowing actress Emma Thompson to spout a load of hysterical, made-up, warmista drivel about climate change on the supposedly respectable and balanced news analysis programme Newsnight.
Unfortunately, the BBC Trust doesn’t put it quite that bluntly in its latest impartiality review called Making Sense of Statistics.
But it does at least hint at an acknowledgement of something the BBC has never admitted before: that where climate change is concerned, its coverage is so hopelessly biased that any talking heads who come on to speak for the warmist side of the argument can get away with murder.
As the report admits (though without naming names), BBC Newsnight presenter Emily Maitlis really should have challenged Emma Thompson when she spouted scientifically illiterate tosh on global warming.
On 2 September 2015 an actress appeared on BBC Two’s Newsnight being interviewed about climate change (which she had campaigned on recently). During the interview she made inaccurate statements about climate threats. This included the claim that if they [oil companies] take out of the earth all the oil they want to take out, you look at the science – our temperature will rise 4 degrees Celsius by 2030, and that’s not sustainable. Scientific research suggests that this temperature rise is in fact likely to be arrived at much later – the World Bank, for example, puts it at “by the end of the century”. However, the statement, and others like it, were not challenged in any way in the programme by the presenter.
Indeed Maitlis should have done. In her defence, though, global warming is so specialised a topic that it’s nigh-on impossible as a generalist news TV presenter to know whether the impressive-sounding statistics being spouted by your celebrity guest are accurate or totally made up. Indeed, the only person anywhere within the BBC sufficiently well-informed to do so is Andrew Neil.
But the idea – which the report entertains – that this can simply be solved by the BBC’s staffers being more mindful of statistical accuracy in the future is clearly a nonsense.
The rot is much deeper than that. As I’ve reported before here the BBC’s bias on environmental issues is entrenched, institutional and undoubtedly in breach of its charter.
Though the BBC Trust is the watchdog supposed to fix this, its track record hitherto does not inspire much confidence.
It’s supposed to be independent and arm’s-length but in reality it’s anything but. Never was this clearer than in the way it dealt with criticisms of its science coverage, especially that part dedicated to the climate change issue. At great expense it commissioned a report from a left-wing Welshman known as Jones the Snail (because his field of expertise is snails) which completely acquitted the BBC of all charges of bias and concluded that, if anything, the BBC should be even more biased in its climate coverage because “deniers” were little better than people who think that “AIDS has nothing to do with viruses, the MMR vaccine is unsafe, complex organs could never evolve, or even that the 9/11 disaster was a US government plot.” (No, really. And this guy is a professor…)
If the BBC really wants to get its climate coverage right, one thing it could do is stop treating activist loons like Emma Thompson as though they’ve got anything useful to contribute to the debate.
Not only was Thompson’s intellect irredeemably tainted when she read English at a little known university called Cambridge, which is perilously close to that even less distinguished seat of academe the “University” of East Anglia, home of the disgraced Climatic Research Unit of Climategate infamy. But also, she’s a mummer, for heaven’s sake: really good at learning lines and pretending to be other people in a fruity Shakespearean voice or a Scottish accent (according to need), but perfectly useless at doing the hard slog and background reading required to understand the basics of climate science.