Some journalists are supposed to be critical of government. It is their job. Some journalists are supposed to make arguments in favour of government policy. It is their job, even if the result is bland and inconsequential. Some journalists feign ‘balance’ by reporting what both sides of a ‘debate’ have to say.
It is easy to criticise journalists for their biases. But bias is part of the job of reporting. If journalists had no perspective to offer, there would be no point in the news.
But the BBC’s coverage of events is curious. It reported today that:
The chancellor has announced measures aimed at cutting the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions – as part of £1bn spending to tackle climate change.
The Budget commits the UK to cut CO2 emissions by 34% by 2020.
There is much to say about the Government’s campaign to make the UK greener. For instance, it could be asked what kind of legitimacy its policies have, since environmentalism has never been tested by the UK’s democratic process. Neither has it been established exactly whose interests green policies have been designed to serve.
These things don’t interest the journalists at the BBC:
Industry has pushed for the measures, saying it will allow them to invest in “greener” technologies, but scientists say the targets do not go far enough.
Which ‘industry’? When? More to the point, which scientists?
Environmental group Friends of the Earth said the emissions cuts were far too weak to allow the UK to “play its part in avoiding dangerous climate change”.
But Friends of the Earth aren’t scientists.
The New Economics Foundation dismissed the Budget as being “more beige than green”.
But the New Economics Foundation aren’t scientists either.
Christian Aid’s climate policy expert Dr Alison Doig said the UK and other industrialised nations needed to urgently commit to deeper emissions cuts ahead of a climate change summit in Copenhagen in December.
Last time we checked, Christian Aid weren’t scientists.
The offer of taxpayer money to support carbon capture and storage would put pressure on government to make sure such projects were delivered on time to the benefit of the UK consumer, said Jim Fitzgerald, a director at Ernst & Young.
Ernst & Young aren’t scientists.
The article does not quote a single scientist.
This is the curious thing: the BBC reporter seems to imagine that these various special interest groups speak ‘for science’. Even more curious is that, in terms of ideological bias, neither the reporter, the Government, nor the interest groups represent opposing ‘sides’. The differences between them only amount to theoretical degrees of commitment to the same ideas. At the same time that the journalist has written an article critical of the government, he or she has written something that is sympathetic.
If you wanted to know what the NEF, Christian Aid and Friends of the Earth were saying about today’s budget, you’d have been better off visiting their websites. The BBC seemingly presents these activists’ views, not only as scientific authorities, but as though they – the BBC – had gone to the trouble of soliciting these organisations for their opinion, and that the quotes are responses to their own probing questions. And yet all the quotes are in fact simply lifted word-for-word from press releases. Not only does the BBC pander to the shrillest voices, but it apparently does so by design.
The anonymous BBC journalist hack gives the authority of science to these special interests, as though they were neutral, objective and disinterested observers of the government, not the ideologically-driven, unaccountable, and undemocratic activists which they are. This frames the debate as though it were itself between a government dragging its feet, and pure objectivity.
Even more curious, we’re supposed to think that a green budget would be a good thing, because it is something ‘industry has pushed for’, and the ‘scientists’ (aka activist organisations) have said that ‘the first ever carbon budgets is a ground-breaking step’. But what about you and I? When do our views on environmental policies get checked? Not at the ballot box. Not in Parliament. Not on the BBC.
The halfwit hack cannot even tell the difference between a scientist and a campaigning organisation. What hope has he or she of producing an informative article, with or without bias?
Messianic green activist Al Gore is credited with raising the profile of the ‘balance as bias’ hypothesis, which posits that the perception of the climate debate has been distorted by giving air time to ‘deniers’, giving the impression that there still exists a debate within the scientific community. Of course, it works the other way too, but Gore conveniently forgets that.
Let us propose another hypothesis. The bullshit-as-bias hypothesis. The perception of the climate debate is distorted by bollocks journalism, such as the BBC exhibits today. It cannot bring any intelligence to its reporting, cannot reflect critically on any of the opinions it reports, and is entirely credulous about whatever it sees or hears. It is the slack-jawed, hollow-headed cretin it imagines its audience to be. News: digested and delivered in exactly the way that excessive dietary fibre is. Complete crap.