April 10, 2008

Rewriting the news

Following on from a story I've posted on a couple of times, this from Marc Sheppard at American Thinker:-
The BBC appears to have serially caved-in to global warmist activism. There was much online discussion this weekend about a Friday BBC global warming / La Nina related article suddenly changing its wording and with it -- its apparent balance. Today, news that [Jo Abbess] an eco-activist has smugly taken credit for coercing the change has joined the conversation.
Here's a question for you. Of all the people who have ever complained to the BBC about an item on its news page, how many of them have been lucky enough to receive the following reply from a BBC journalist?
from Roger Harrabin
to Jo Abbess
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:28 AM
subject RE: Correction Demanded : "Global temperatures 'to

Have a look in 10 minutes and tell me you are happier
We have changed headline and more
What is Jo Abbess's secret? And why is Roger Harrabin in thrall to her?

How did she do it? Simple, she hit him where it hurts; she threatened to undermine his credibility if he didn't cave into her demands.
from Jo Abbess
to Roger Harrabin ,
date Fri, Apr 4, 2008 at 11:12 AM

I am about to send your comments to others for their contribution, unless you request I do not. They are likely to want to post your comments on forums/fora, so please indicate if you do not want this to happen. You may appear in an unfavourable light because it could be said that you have had your head turned by the sceptics.
Okay, so it's hardly do as I say or I kill your whole family but Abbess's threat was enough of a worry for Harrabin that he was willing to resort to journalistic subterfuge to get her off his back.

But why? What did Harrabin have to fear? He's a senior BBC journalist and his original version of the news story was correct in every detail. His reputation and career at the BBC were hardly likely to be affected by Abbess's complaint.

Of course, Harrabin isn't just an environmental journalist for BBC online: he's a reporter on the BBC's Today program; he writes extensively on green issues for other publications, such as New Statesman; he co-directs the Cambridge Environment and Media Programme, and via Performing Artistes Online and JLA, hires himself out as a speaker on environmental issues - here's the blurb:-
Roger acts as a driving force to improve the BBC’s coverage of environmental, public health and energy issues. He founded Radio 4’s Costing the Earth, and initiated the pan-BBC Healthy Nation poll. Roger also co-directs the Cambridge Environment and Media Programme, and speaks on areas from climate change and sustainable development to health risks.
Looking at Harrabin's extra-curricular activities, his work in promoting a green agenda at the BBC and his vocal support for the consensus view on climate change, it's difficult to escape the impression that Harrabin is an activist working in journalism rather than simply a reporter with a knowledge of environmental issues.

Perhaps that's what caused him to accede to Abbess's demand, not any loss he might suffer, but simply the fear that one of his fellow activists would go around telling all the other little activists that Roger Harrabin had been "turned by the sceptics".

It looks to me like Harrabin rewrote a BBC news story simply to save face in front of his peers.

It's enough to make you weep.
Newsbusters has a video report on the story and the full e-mail exchange between Abbess and Harrabin.