This week, I managed to get no further than one minute and 25 seconds into this week’s episode of This Week (is that enough “this weeks”?), before Andrew Neil had me back on the BBC’s complaints site.
This time, Andrew decided to use his introductory monologue to mock the IPCC’s special report on climate change and cast aspersions about its veracity by comparing it with other entirely unrelated assessments, the contents of which do not actually contradict the report itself. Here’s the clip if you can bear to watch it:
Andrew has a long history as an arch climate change denier. For the uninitiated, I’d point you to Sunny Hundal’s excellent Twitter thread on the subject:
Hi @afneil, have you looked outside your window and decided if global warming is real yet?
Or do these tweets only come out in winter? pic.twitter.com/f5mTOmmjcL
— Sunny Hundal (@sunny_hundal) July 24, 2018
Complaint to the BBC
Here’s the full content of my complaint to the BBC. Feel free to copy, adapt etc. if you’d like to complain yourself, which I’d encourage you to do:
‘I am deeply concerned that Andrew Neil introduced this week’s episode of This Week with a withering, sarcastic rubbishing of the IPCC’s special report on climate change that was released on Monday 8 October.
‘To mock a report that has such a broad level of support from the international scientific community, and by trying to smear it with comparisons to unrelated assessments from other organisations (which are not actually contradictory), is not just immensely foolish, but actively dangerous.
‘Would the producers of This Week allow Andrew Neil to cast doubt on the efficacy of vaccinations, and blithely suggest that he’s heard they might cause autism? I suspect not, and I imagine the reasons for this are that: a) this theory was not scientific, and the person peddling these myths is discredited and disgraced; and b) it’s dangerous to allow someone in a position of Andrew’s authority to mislead the public in this way.
‘So why is it deemed acceptable for him to not just question climate change, but to actively seek to discredit the IPCC’s landmark report, representing the work of thousands of studies of climate change from thousands of scientists across the planet.
‘Furthermore, as ever, Andrew Neil is abusing his position as presenter of This Week to push the agenda of the right-wing magazine of which he is chairman, The Spectator. This magazine is well-known for its climate change denial, having run dozens of front covers rubbishing climate change altogether. Andrew himself has put out countless tweets spreading the same lies and misinformation.
‘Frankly, I cannot understand how Andrew manages to keep his job with this flagrant level of bias. And I am utterly baffled as to why the producers of This Week allow him to keep peddling the garbage printed in his beloved right-wing rag.’
Update, the BBC have replied with the following:
‘Dear Mr Lenox
‘Thanks for contacting us regarding the BBC One programme ‘This Week’ broadcast on 11 October.
‘I understand you have concerns with Andrew Neil’s introduction of the report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.
‘Thanks for rising these concerns. I’ve watched the whole opening segment of the programme for a broader context and it was shot in the style of a post-apocalyptic movie. This was to give a visual illustration to the reports ahead that were not only about climate change, but the challenges the PM faces in light of Brexit due to the position of the DUP and the European Research Group. As rock legend Suzi Quatro said in the introduction, This Week fells like the end of the world.
‘This carried onto the opening segment that introduced the specific IPCC report. With the timeframe of 12 years being given to save the planet, Andrew said in recent times that this is what passes for a good news story with the WWF having given 5 years back in 2007, the International Energy Agency giving 5 years in 2011 and the head of climate change at the UN giving 3 years just last year.
‘The tone of This Week is well established, and the opening monologue very even handed in its light-hearted take on the weeks top stories. As he continued to introduce other items, he carried the same light tone throughout. We’d also point out that all staff working for BBC News, including Andrew, though clearly entitled to hold personal opinions and beliefs, are acutely aware that their views should never in any way influence their work for the BBC, nor should they be apparent to our audience.
‘We’re sorry if you feel that any aspect of our news coverage displays bias, but hope the above explains the approach we take to reporting to try and ensure that we always maintain our impartiality. If you’re interested, you can read more about the BBC editorial guidelines on impartiality below:
‘That said, we value your feedback about this issue as you felt he got it wrong on this occasion. All complaints are sent to senior management and programme teams every morning and I included your points in this overnight report.
‘These reports are among the most widely read sources of feedback in the BBC and ensures that your complaint has been seen by the right people quickly. This helps inform their decisions about current and future programmes.
‘Once again, thank you for contacting us.
‘BBC Complaints Team’