Shoot the Messenger, not Yourself in the Foot

French weatherman Philippe Verdier has been officially sacked by the state television channel. We don’t know the contents of the dismissal letter, but there’s a short video subtitled in English at
http://www.skyfall.fr/?p=1679
There’s general agreement in the comments under the above article that France Télévisions have shot themselves in the foot with this. He’s the most well-known face among TV weathermen, and he isn’t even a climate sceptic. All he’s done is write a book critical of the political and commercial use to which warmism is being put, pointing out e.g. how IPCC vice-president Jean Jouzel commands monster fees for giving greenwash talks to major companies.

What set him him off was being summoned to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs along with other TV weather people and ordered by Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius in person (who is also president of COP21) to put the heat on in reporting extreme weather events in the run up to the Paris conference.

What makes this story potentially explosive is the flagrant contradiction in the leftwing press between their eco-activism and their supposed interest in defending free speech. This is evident for example in this particularly nasty article
http://www.liberation.fr/planete/2015/11/01/climatosceptiques-fabrique-de-martyr-mode-d-emploi_1410404
in which, under the headline “How to make a martyr of a climate sceptic” well-known journalist Daniel Schneidermann, a specialist in the analysis of media bias, criticises France Télévisions, not for its censorship, but for giving publicity to Verdier’s views by sacking him.
Schneidermann states that Verdier’s book should never have been published, accuses him of conspiracy theorising and suggests that instead of being sacked, he should have been sent as permanent correspondent in the Arctic or Antarctic. That will probably set the tone for other press comments to come.

We can hope for a very public battle over this, with the private TV channels using it as a stick to beat the public channels. There’s a terrible conformism about most journalism in France, which paradoxically leads to a certain anarchism, with any media person who dares to criticise the politically correct “pensée unique” assured of a place in one of the many rowdy debates which pass for political analysis. Nothing else about COP21 is likely to fire the interest of the media. This might just do it. Watch this space.

6 thoughts on “Shoot the Messenger, not Yourself in the Foot

  1. “assured of a place in one of the many rowdy debates which pass for political analysis”

    Chuckle. It sounds rather like the BBC’s “Question Time”, a program that invites politicians and a few select others (often with political opinions) to publicly disagree with each other. The audience, with pre-selected questions, then take in in turns to clap loudly and boo/hiss loudly. The only thing missing is free rotten tomatoes provided at the entrance.

    Back on topic, I had read elsewhere that the French Weatherman had taken unauthorised time off work to promote his book. The way it was reported, it sounded like he had given them a ready-made pretext for sacking him. If true, it seems he has been a bit naive and underestimated how strongly any dissent is punished when it comes to global warming. We are not as free as we often like to imagine.

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  2. Michael Hart
    Question Time is Holy Mass in a Trappist Monastery compared to French TV debates, where the rule is to talk as long and as loudly as possible and interrupt every time the other guy says something interesting.

    I hadn’t heard about Verdier taking unauthorised time off. The only concrete accusation I’ve heard is that he used his position to promote the book. Certainly the video makes many commenters uneasy, since it’s so obviously a plug for the book.

    No-one knows how this will play out. If just one well-known journalist speaks up for Verdier, he’ll be invited everywhere to be shot down in flames by the pack, since that’s what makes the ratings. I’m afraid the kind of journalists who enjoy doing that are often on the far right. This could well get quite nasty.

    One ex-minister has already called climate sceptics *ssholes, and the head of the Ecology party (formerly of ActUp) compares us to people who deny the existence of AIDS

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  3. Geoff, I can’t remember where I read the article, but it was in English. So there is every possibility the fine details may have been lost in translation.

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  4. Very interesting Geoff. How different things seem to be in France.

    “… the leftwing press between their eco-activism and their supposed interest in defending free speech”.
    The main supposedly left-wing press outlets in the UK make no pretence of being interested in free speech and seem determined to supress it. So much so that when a left-wing group does support free speech (Spiked) they are mistakenly regarded as right-wing.

    “… any media person who dares to criticise the politically correct “pensée unique” assured of a place…”
    Again, the opposite is the case over here – anyone who dares to question the authoritarian PC agenda is assured of being banned from the BBC after being officially reprimanded (Nigel Lawson, Quentin Letts).

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  5. Pingback: They Thought They Were Saving the World: Book Review | Climate Scepticism

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