David Keighley: The BBC’s non-denial denial that it censors debate over climate alarmism

I always remember All the President’s Men, the Woodward-Bernstein book on Watergate because they coined the rather neat phrase a ‘non-denial denial’ to describe the contortions and distortions of the truth that Nixon’s White House manufactured to deny that the body politic was infested with cheating, lying crooks.

The latest utterance from the corridors of the BBC in their dictatorial imposition of bias in the treatment of debates about climate alarmism brings the phrase forcibly to mind.

There were numerous reports last week that Lord Lawson had, in effect, been banned from BBC news and current affairs discussions about the subject because he dares to challenge what the Corporation says is overwhelming ‘consensus’ among scientists that we are seriously at risk from escalating temperatures.

The row ignited over reports of a ruling in the BBC house organ The Guardian. It related to an item on the Today programme about the Somerset floods back in February. In this, Lord Lawson argued that official responses should not accept unquestionably that the floods were caused by escalating climate change.

The Guardian now says that the BBC has issued a statement claiming that the reports about the ruling, and in particular that Lord Lawson had been banned from appearing, were wrong. It falls beautifully in the category of a complete non-denial denial. The BBC says:

"Nigel Lawson has not been banned and nor is there a ban on non-scientists discussing climate change. We have also not apologised for putting him on air. The BBC is absolutely committed to impartial and balanced coverage, whatever the subject, and would not bow to pressure from any quarter whatever the story. This ruling found a false balance was created in that the item implied Lord Lawson’s views on climate science were on the same footing as those of Sir Brian Hoskins.

"Our position continues to be that we accept that there is broad scientific agreement on climate change and we reflect this accordingly. We do, however, on occasion offer space to dissenting voices where appropriate as part of the BBC’s overall commitment to impartiality."

The saying: “Give them enough rope and they will hang themselves” applies here exactly. Not only that, the Corporation is being massively disingenuous and alarmingly naive – or wilfully pig-headed - because their reaction is based on an ocean of prejudice and bull-necked corporate arrogance.

First, Nigel Lawson – though he is not a scientist – is a part of the debate about climate change alarmism because he has established the Global Warming Policy Foundation, a body which counts many eminent scientists as its trustees and advisors, and is rigorously marshalling the facts. Despite this, the BBC has only ever once (in the Today appearance) invited him to contribute to climate-related items.

What’s the betting that if he had put the same energy into a foundation advocating gay marriage, he would have become in nanoseconds a Today programme regular?

Second, how on earth can the BBC declare with certainty that there is ‘broad scientific agreement’ about such a massively complex subject or that science is established by agreement? And why on earth is it ‘false balance’ to include the views of a former Chancellor of the Exchequer into a discussion about whether resources relating to flood management are being wisely spent?

This new statement proves the BBC, from top to bottom, are bloody-mindedly going to continue to frame their reporting of climate alarmism on the basis that it has been proved. OK, they may not have actually ‘banned’ figures such as Lord Lawson, but the facts speak for themselves – such appearances will be as a rare as hen’s teeth.

So what the Corporation is doing here in terms of distorting honest debate is every bit as sinister as Nixon’s White House. They are, I fully accept, not lying or cheating – though preventing major national figures from properly taking part in debates of major public importance is tantamount to the latter; audiences are entitled to expect the full facts, not a BBC diced and sliced and sanitised version.

David Keighley