BBC reprimands Rutherford on impartiality
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BBC presenter Adam Rutherford rebuked over tweet criticising climate change sceptic
A few days ago, the presenter of BBC’s Inside Science, Adam Rutherford, wrote a series of tweets fuming about the presence of MP Graham Stringer on the Science and Technology Committee.
Incoherently, Rutherford first complained about the lack of diversity and low scientific credentials:
1) Not a single woman
2) 1 of these men has a 1st degree in bioscience, 1 in chemistry. The rest are economics or law.
before attacking Stringer, who represents diversity (of views) and has a science degree:
I’m afraid it is worse:
@gstringermp is a trustee of Nigel Lawson’s Global Warming Policy Foundation
and then calling on his 45,000 followers to write to their MP and complain:
We need you righteous indignation on this. Please write to your MPs. It is not OK to have science so misrepresented in a democracy.
As I wrote in the previous post, this is contrary to the BBC’s obligations regarding balance.
The GWPF, Stew Green, and I complained about this, but Rutherford continued, arguing that Stringer was “scientifically illiterate” and insisting that he was just exercising his “democratic right”.
Well, it seems that Graham Stringer complained to the BBC (who could possibly have seen that coming?), who took prompt action and criticised Rutherford, see links above in Prolific North, Mail, Guardian and Times. Stringer wrote
‘It is completely inappropriate for a BBC employee to be running a political campaign, particularly as he is misrepresenting me to the point of defamation.’
The BBC Radio Head of Editorial Standards is quoted as saying
“Any BBC presenter, freelance or otherwise, needs to consider how their outside comments might impact on the work they do for the BBC. On this occasion, in my view, Dr Rutherford’s comments on Twitter potentially compromised the BBC’s impartiality on this issue.”
“I have met Dr Rutherford and his Editor, and made these points clear to him. I have further advised him on his responsibilities when using social media. Although he is entitled to his own views, he must consider if any tweets (or other publications) might compromise his work as a BBC presenter.”
“The matter has been further escalated to the Head of the production department, who will also speak to Dr Rutherford, and monitor the situation from now on.”
There is an article by Graham Stringer in the Mail today, partly about the new not-as-bad-as-we-thought paper (see Richard’s post) but going on to talk of arrogance and attempts at censorship, saying that Rutherford was “Taking on the role of latter-day witch-finder”.
Rutherford himself accepted the BBC judgement, which seems to be quite a humiliation, particularly the suggestion that his future social media activity will be monitored.
On the other hand, many of his disciples stubbornly continue to insist that, far from being a Very Naughty Boy, he is in fact The Messiah. See the responses to his tweet for many examples.
HT Stew Green
Another eminent scientist who criticised Stringer’s appointment to the parliamentary committee was Dame Athene Donald. She has a blog article about it at
I have a comment in moderation.
The guy broke a serious BBC rule, being seen to be politically manipulative. He should have found someone to interview who would say the same things and be entitled to their own opinion. Alternatively he could report that ‘people are saying’ and insert the opinions. He could even invite others to express what they think. The second rule he broke was going after a Labour MP.
It works thus – report that a Pole has been killed in a racially related attack and that someone has said that Nigel Farage’s Brexit campaign leaves him with ‘blood on his hands’ for stirring up nationalism and racism. See, no Labour MP smeared and the BBC didn’t accuse anyone of anything, they were mearly reporting the vox pop. Don’t report that the Pole had been racially insulting two asian lads, one with a criminal record who thumped the Pole once and he fell, hitting his head and died. The BBC can then keep mentioning the rise in race related attacks, hinting that white British have been killing Europeans because they’re Brexit maniacs.
The BBC must be very cross that they were caught meddling when it’s so easy to achieve the same results without getting their fingers dirty.
LikeLiked by 2 people
Rutherford’s Inside Science programme will be on Radio 4 at 4.30 this afternoon. It may contain his interview with Norman Lamb – or maybe not, if the editor monitoring the situation decides it might not be appropriate for Adam to be seen to be meddling in politics after this incident.
In the middle of Stringer’s Mail article he says
“That personalised campaign is not the first time I have had unhappy dealings with the BBC, which has long been a mouthpiece for environmental propaganda.”
Thursday’s Times 4 Letters about the new “Global Warming not as bad as we thought” report
One is from Graham Stringer really laying into the GW establishment and BBC, saying
“It’s the weakest mea culpa in history”
…(upto now) “Extraordinarily they have also convinced the BBC and other parts of the scientifically illiterate establishment that these computer predictions are so accurate that it takes them beyond further debate and further inquiry. This is the same attitude that the Spanish Inquisition had”
…. and finishes by pointing out his poor constituents have to pay for all this madness.
(I have the paper, but don’t see the text online)
The 3 other letters are from climate loonies
– One says we need to put more passion and effort in
– One appears as if drafted by BW and signed by Stern
– One is from Lord Krebs
For full context I should point out that Rutherford’s kneejerk whinging about diversity came before the full committee had been announced. His lot had seen a photo of “10 white men”
one of which they failed to identify as mixed race.
And shortly after one of the 3 empty positions was filled by a woman.
Re :GEOFF CHAMBERS 20 Sep 17 at 9:25 pm
On that blog the later comment does appear (Paul Matthews September 21, 2017 at 9:59 am)
Since it’s now lunchtime on 21st I guess they are not letting your comment thru due to LibMob discussion not being open to people who DIVERGE from non-LibMob opinions
#Diversity #Transparency #FamousLeftyTolerance
An update on the Mail article
I presume the Greenblob ordered a rebutal so Myles Allen has written in
Which of course is only the start of discussion not the end of it.
BTW If their are no Labour women on the committee
… that is Labour’s fault
cos it’s up to the political partys to propose which MPs they send to the commitee
My guess is that tose women might have prioritised social justice committees first.
News just in… A Politician is better at Politics than a Scientist!
Maybe Dr Rutherford should have sought the advice of an expert?
Dr Alan Rutherford is a geneticist. I doubt whether he really understands anything about climate science.
Clive – that doesn’t appear to be much of an impediment for others.
You can hear the interview with Norman Lamb at about 05:50 into the Inside Science programme.
“I got myself into some hot water earlier this week by tweeting about it” says Rutherford.
Lamb explained how the committee is set up. The members are selected by the parties, with no input from the chair. He is concerned about the lack of gender balance. Rutherford then asked about only three members having a science degree, and whether that matters, and Lamb said it was good to have a mix of scientists and non-scientists, which is what I said in a comment on the previous thread. There was some comment about Brexit, but nothing about Graham Stringer.
In the first comment above I mentioned Cambridge physicist Dame Athene Donald; Master of Churchill College, who also criticised the appointment of Graham Stringer on her blog http://occamstypewriter.org/athenedonald/2017/09/17/parliamentary-debacle/
I left a comment three days ago which has not appeared, though another by Paul Matthews was published promptly. Here’s my unacceptable comment:
It’s her blog, and she’s free to censor comments all she likes. But the British Empire (of which she is a Dame) and Cambridge University, (a College of which she is Master) are venerable institutions, even more so than the BBC, which has given Rutherford, who is not even an employee and has never received the touch of the Chairman’s sword on his shoulder, a good ticking off. I don’t think Cambridge University and whoever hands out the Damehoods (the College of Arms?) will be ticking off Dame Athene, possibly because these institutions predate parliamentary democracy by several centuries and are above such things.
She won’t say why Stringer is a climate change denier. She probably doesn’t know. Thats OK. Even a Cambridge professor of physics can’t know everything. So it’s not as a Dame Commander of the British Empire or as Master of a College of one of the world’s great universities that I address her, but as blogger to blogger.
We at cliscep never censor comments because they ask awkward questions. (Some authors remove comments which irritate. I never do.) We like awkward questions, because it makes us think, and because science is all about answering awkward questions, even for amateurs like me, who never went beyond A-level science. We are in frequent contact with high profile bloggers on the sciency side of the climate change controversy. They frequently censor comments, just like you.
Blogs that censor awkward questions are anti-science. Blogs that try to answer them are pro-science. It’s as simple as that. Which side is the Master of Churchill College on?
(The question of why you call Stringer a climate change denier is not strictly scientific. He doesn’t deny that the climate changes. He doesn’t deny that man may be in part responsible. The use of the word “denier” is universally recognised (even by the Guardian) as distasteful, since it recalls the term “Holocaust denier.” Perhaps you didn’t know?)
Two Crimes their mean your posts gets censored
#1 Failing to agree with LibMob dogma
#2 You have dared to link to a “denier blog”
When on Facebook I wrote carefully about Michael Mann being give a free unchallenged 10 mins on Rutherford’s show, the producer of the BBC Mark Kermode show , had a rant at me concluding “you linked to Breitbart so I am blocking you”
Yes since Delingpole was the only journo that covered the item I’d included a link to his article about it on Breitbart
Since Breitbart’s purpose is not news so much as propaganda, it’s purpose is to mislead not to inform. Anyone linking to Breitbart is hence also aiming to mislead and is fair game for blocking.
” it’s purpose is to mislead not to inform”
Yes, you’ll be an authority on that, won’t you Martinez?
Oh dear. Just a few months after getting ticked off by the BBC for getting involved in shouty activist politics, Adam seems to be at it again:
Hmm, it would seem some of the speakers are pretty dodgy in this case. The Jewish Chronicle has University probes eugenics conference with links to white supremacists. So UCL is doing an investigation.
Ooops, another angry political rant.
That is strange in a number of ways, not least because Farage was never claiming such a power. He considered changing his position, then went back on it within a few hours. That confused one newly-promoted Tory MP on Question Time about UKIP’s official position, which hadn’t changed at all:
Not Nigel’s finest hour but Rutherford does seem out of control for a BBC science guy.
His earlier concerns about the event at UCL have a connection to ongoing attempts to blacken the name of Toby Young, as a eugenicist and Nazi, which Young has just written about in The Spectator. I’ve put a link to that in our Toby Young thread.