Thursday, December 08, 2011

A triple betrayal

Out today is Christopher Booker's report on the BBC and climate change, appropriately named The BBC and Climate Change: A Triple Betrayal. It has a foreword by Antony Jay and is available online from The Global Warming Policy Foundation. It has also been trailed in the Daily Mail.

Left to me, I would not have bothered. Anyone who does not already know that the BBC is about as impartial on climate change – and on many others issues – as Judge Jeffreys on a bad day is either an innocent abroad, or themselves so imbued in warmist propaganda that they are beyond redemption.

But, on much the same basis that there are people who climb mountains for no other reason than they are there, one should at least attempt to redress the balance, and take the BBC apart. Without doubt, Booker was the man to do it.

By any measure, he tells us, concern over global warming has been one of the major stories of our time, raising questions of profound relevance to all our futures. The key question, of course, is how much of such global warming as has taken place can be ascribed to human activity.

An equally important question is whether the predictions that this faces the world with an unprecedented threat been based on truly reliable evidence. Considering their immense economic and social implications, one also needs to know how far have the measures put forward by politicians to avert that threat have been in practice justified.

Addressing these questions (or not) has been arguably the most influential media organisation on earth, the BBC. Booker examines the coverage of these issues by an organisation which revels in the boast that, over the years, it has won unique respect for the impartiality and independence of its reporting.

In actually, the impartiality of the BBC has always been over-rated. Even during its formative years of the Second World War, it was a propaganda arm of the government, its reporters often so laughably amateur that they did not even need to lie to get things wrong. They did so quite naturally.

But it was also an organisation which could and did lie with great facility, and fitted so easily into the censorship regime of the government that the main news broadcasts were not even formally censured by government officials. The BBC was quite capable of doing the task unaided.

So dire and uninformative did the BBC coverage become that, at the height of the Battle of Britain in 1940, more people were tuning to German English language broadcasts than the BBC for their news. It was often the case that news of events was only broadcast after the Germans had released the details.

One of the greatest modern jokes of all time, therefore, is the BBC's Royal Charter. In regulations made under it, the organisation has the duty to remain at all times impartial, a requirement it has breached many times – not least in the debate in the run up to Britain's entry to the Common Market, and in its subsequent support for the European Union.

In fact, as it put its wartime skills into practice, it is hard to think of an important issue in modern times on which the BBC has been on the "right" side, or come anywhere near obeying its statutory obligation to be impartial.

To be fair though, as the girlie culture has pervaded the organisation, it is sometimes difficult to tell the difference between bias and incompetence. Untrained and ignorant reporters so often get things wrong simply because they do not know any different.

Nevertheless, there are still far too many people in this world who treat the BBC as if it was a force for good, and take its slant on issues at face value. But, as Booker observes, so blatant is the bias on global warming that even ordinary people are beginning to notice.

What Booker does for us though is demonstrate that the BBC "getting it wrong" on climate change has not merely been a reflection of its innate incompetence, and its natural deference to corporate authority.

It has in fact been the result of deliberate policy, stemming from the middle of the last decade, when the BBC's senior executives, including those in charge of news and current affairs, along with its team of environmental journalists, took a decision that its coverage on issues related to climate change should be more overtly partisan.

In so doing, and not for the first time, it has betrayed its statutory obligation to be impartial, using the excuse that any dissent from the official orthodoxy was so insignificant that it should just be ignored or made to look ridiculous.

Secondly, says Booker, it has betrayed the principles of responsible journalism, by allowing its coverage to become so one-sided that it has too often amounted to no more than propaganda. Thirdly, it has betrayed the fundamental principles of science, which relies on unrelenting scepticism towards any theory until it can be shown to provide a comprehensive explanation for the observed evidence.  Those three matters are the essence of its "triple betrayal".

Thus, concludes Booker, in all these respects, the BBC has above all been guilty of abusing the trust of its audience, and of all those compelled to pay for it. On one of the most important and far-reaching issues of our time, its coverage has been so tendentious that it has given its viewers a picture not just misleading but at times even fraudulent.

The report, running to 74 pages, analyses this dereliction in clinical and devastating detail, to the extent that no honest person, reading the report, could ever look at the BBC in the same way – much less trust it with anything more than the disposal of cat litter.

In a dynamic society, where we had politicians who actually represented the interests of the people, this report would be seized upon as powerful evidence of where the BBC has gone so badly wrong that it is beyond redemption. No broadcasting organisation which has conducted itself in such a manner should be let near the airwaves again.

Inevitably, though, the warmist tendency in government and beyond (and especially in the BBC), will ignore Booker's work – their only possible response, as it is otherwise an unanswerable indictment of a failed organisation. But, for the rest of us, it provides powerful and factual evidence of why we should not trust the BBC – on anything – to those, at least, who did not know that already.