Peter Sissons, a veteran British newsman, left BBC’s Television Centre for the last time in June, without a “pang of regret.”
In The Mail of Sunday, July 15th, he launched a blistering attack on the BBC, claiming standards have dropped and producers are too concerned about being politically correct to do anything about it.
His article was an interesting read and, given my growing disillusion over the news media and what I believe to be a misrepresentation of the facts on climate change, I was particularly interested in the part of the article that talked about the BBC position on global warming.
Mr. Sissons writes:
On a wintry Saturday last December, there was what was billed as a major climate change rally in London.
The leader of the Green Party, Caroline Lucas, went into the Westminster studio to be interviewed by me on the BBC News channel. She clearly expected what I call a ‘free hit’; to be allowed to voice her views without being challenged on them.
I pointed out to her that the climate didn’t seem to be playing ball at the moment. We were having a particularly cold winter, even though carbon emissions were increasing. Indeed, there had been no warming for ten years, contradicting all the alarming computer predictions.
Well, she was outraged. I don’t have the actual transcript, but Miss Lucas told me angrily that it was disgraceful that the BBC – the BBC! – should be giving any kind of publicity to those sort of views.
I believe I am one of a tiny number of BBC interviewers who have so much as raised the possibility that there is another side to the debate on climate change.
The Corporation’s most famous interrogators invariably begin by accepting that ‘the science is settled’, when there are countless reputable scientists and climatologists producing work that says it isn’t.
But it is effectively BBC policy, enthusiastically carried out by the BBC environment correspondents, that those views should not be heard – witness the BBC statement last year that ‘BBC News currently takes the view that their reporting needs to be calibrated to take into account the scientific consensus that global warming is man-made’.
Politically the argument may be settled, but any inquisitive journalist can find ample evidence that scientifically it is not.
I was not proud to be working for an organisation with a corporate mind so closed on such an important issue. Disquiet over my interview with Miss Lucas, incidentally, went right to the top at the BBC although, naturally, they never sought to discuss it with me.
For me, this is not an issue about the climate, it is an issue about the duty of the journalist.
I suspect the policy of most major media outlets on climate change is similar to the BBC’s.