BBC’s Hypocritical Analysis of its Own Global Warming Coverage

June 20th, 2007 2:07 PM

On Wednesday, NewsBusters reported the complete study done by the BBC of the problem it's having with liberal bias within the organization (h/t Benny Peiser).

Inside the Report was a section dealing specifically with how the network is dealing with matters relating to climate change.

As NewsBusters has given great focus to this controversial subject since its inception, it seems appropriate to separate and highlight this part of the BBC’s Report with greater analysis.

This is especially the case given the manmade global warming biases which seemed to infiltrate the Report itself (emphasis added throughout):

Climate change is another subject where dissenters can be unpopular. There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made. But the second part of that consensus still has some intelligent and articulate opponents, even if a small minority.

Although the BBC should be applauded for its efforts, it is interesting that even as the authors of this report recognize bias on this issue, they couldn’t shelter their own predilections from their analysis.

For instance, it is quite specious to discuss the existence of a “consensus” concerning this issue, and then in a subsequent paragraph, chide “programme-makers” for buying into a consensus:

Recent history is littered with examples of where the mainstream has moved away from the prevailing consensus. Monetarism was regarded in the mid-1970s as an eccentric, impractical enthusiasm of right-wing economists – today it is a central feature of every British government’s economic policy. Euro-scepticism was once belittled as a small-minded, blinkered view of extremists on both left and right: today it is a powerful and influential force which has put pro-Europeans under unaccustomed pressure. Multiculturalism was for years seen by many in Britain as the only respectable policy for managing the problems posed by immigration – over the past two years it has been much harder to find people in public life who support it. Programme-makers need to treat areas of consensus with proper scepticism and rigour. So often those in the media who think they are in the mainstream find that the river of public discourse has cut a new channel, and left them stranded in ox-bow lakes.

Interesting, wouldn’t you agree? On the one hand, “Programme-makers need to treat areas of consensus with proper scepticism and rigour.” Yet, in the opening paragraph on this issue, the authors claimed: “There may be now a broad scientific consensus that climate change is definitely happening, and that it is at least predominantly man-made.”

Interesting contradiction, as it appears that as much as the authors want the BBC to “treat areas of consensus with proper scepticism and rigour,” they themselves had a hard time doing so in their report.

Furthermore, labeling the number of anthropogenic global warming skeptics as a “small minority” is itself a biased statement, as nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, the list of scientists around the world that are risking future grant moneys by coming forward to speak out against this junk science is growing by leaps and bounds on almost a daily basis.

Sadly, this bias on the part of the Report’s authors didn’t end there:

The BBC has held a high-level seminar with some of the best scientific experts, and has come to the view that the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus.

Isn’t that special? So, in a study designed to encourage impartiality in reporting, the authors actually made determinations of who’s right in this global warming debate, even as it admitted that such consensuses in the past have proved errant.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up:

But these dissenters (or even sceptics) will still be heard, as they should, because it is not the BBC’s role to close down this debate.

But haven’t you indeed closed down this debate by claiming “the weight of evidence no longer justifies equal space being given to the opponents of the consensus?” Isn’t this kind of like a judge during a murder trial giving the defense less time to plead its case because he’s decided the weight of evidence against the accused no longer justifies equal time be granted to the accused's legal representatives?

Sadly, the authors missed that extraordinary hypocrisy. The Report continued:

They cannot be simply dismissed as ‘flat-earthers’ or ‘deniers’, who ‘should not be given a platform’ by the BBC. Impartiality always requires a breadth of view: for as long as minority opinions are coherently and honestly expressed, the BBC must give them appropriate space. ‘Bias by elimination’ is even more offensive today than it was in 1926. The BBC has many public purposes of both ambition and merit – but joining campaigns to save the planet is not one of them. The BBC’s best contribution is to increase public awareness of the issues and possible solutions through impartial and accurate programming. Acceptance of a basic scientific consensus only sharpens the need for hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution. It remains important that programme-makers relish the full range of debate that such a central and absorbing subject offers, scientifically, politically and ethically, and avoid being misrepresented as standard-bearers.

Yes, but while you’re not “[accepting] of a basic scientific consensus,” but, instead are employing a “hawk-eyed scrutiny of the arguments surrounding both causation and solution,” it’s perfectly fine to present the opinions of more members of the consensus than skeptics while avoiding “being misrepresented as standard-bearers” for said consensus.

I get it.