Journalists working for the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) have been instructed by the company’s trust to stop giving airtime to unqualified experts on contentious issues, such as climate change.
According to the Telegraph, the trust released a report last Thursday that said there was still an “over-rigid application of editorial guidelines on impartiality” which attempted to give the “other side” of arguments, even if that viewpoint was widely dismissed.
“The Trust wishes to emphasise the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences,” the report said. “Science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views but depends on the varying degree of prominence such views should be given.”
In April of this year, the BBC was accused of misleading viewers about global warming by inviting on air guests such as Bob Carter, a retired Australian geologist and climate-change denier, when no qualified UK scientist would offer an opposing viewpoint.
These instructions should be followed in the US, given that cable news networks often invite on these same type of unqualified experts to either support their own views or drum up ratings.
A report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found that both CNN and Fox News frequently mislead their viewers regarding global warming. CNN was incorrect in its climate change coverage nearly one-third of time, and Fox News, sadly but unsurprisingly, got it wrong 72 percent of the time.
Fox News not only airs incorrect information, but its Washington managing editor Bill Sammon actually instructed staff to “refrain from asserting the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”
While it is disturbing the lengths to which Fox News will go to keep its viewers misinformed about serious global issues, it shouldn’t come as a shock. More than a dozen Fox New’s hosts have made appearances at events funded by the Koch Brothers, who have a few billion reasons to try to convince America that climate change isn’t being affected by the oil industry.