Justice From Justin

I know this isn’t saying much, but Justin Webb on Today is a great improvement on Ed Stourton whom he replaced much to some people’s dismay. I thought he gave Gita Sahgal a fair hearing this morning, and it’s certainly encouraging that for once the BBC allowed someone to dislodge the halo surrounding Amnesty International.

If you haven’t been following the story, Ms Sahgal, a senior official at AI, became uneasy about Amnesty’s association with Moazzam Begg who heads the organization Cageprisoners that “ actively promotes Islamic Right ideas and individuals.”
So she wrote about her concerns to the Times.
Within a few hours of the article being published Amnesty had suspended me from my job.”
The Today interview gave her the opportunity to express her point without the usual innuendos and interruptions. In My Humble Opinion. *And not a word from Widney Brown.
* H/T Hippiepooter
As you were!
I may have to take it all back.
Who had an exclusive platform for her rebuttal today? Why, Widney Brown.
But then… but then… did I detect a whiff of hostility in Justin’s tone?

Today R4. 8:46. (Link not up yet.)

Time for Al Het from Naughtie?

Remember James Naughtie’s disgraceful interview with the Israeli Ambassador Ron Proser on Today 22nd December? I commented that Naughtie seemed unaware of ex President Jimmy Carter’s reputation as the most anti Israel US President ever.

To further a point, Naughtie produced one of Mr. Carter’s notoriously disparaging statements, saying:
“I take it you don’t regard him [Carter] as somebody who is anti-Israel in his bones!”

“Does Naughtie know nothing about this subject?” I wondered.
Well, it’s high time someone tells Naughtie all about it if he doesn’t know already, because now Jimmeh is offering a kind of apology, which, of course, is a tacit admission of guilt.

People are speculating as to whether it’s because his grandson is running for office in an area with Jewish voters, or for some other reason.
The peanut president has written an open letter to the Jewish community, and concludes:
we must not permit criticisms for improvement to stigmatize Israel. As I would have noted at Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, but which is appropriate at any time of the year, I offer an Al Het for any words or deeds of mine that may have done so.

In Hebrew ‘Al Het’ means plea for forgiveness.

Today Again

I’m not the biggest fan of the Cameron-led Conservative Party, but even I was forced to wonder where the Today programme gets balls big enough to follow yesterday’s double-team attack on Tory spokesman Phil Hammond with another one-sided assault on Tory policy this morning. Daniel “Danny” Dorling, a socialist professor of human geography, was given the prime-time slot following Thought For The Day to promote the idea of expanding public sector employment and increasing taxation. Conservative-proposed spending cuts were singled out for criticism by Dorling and his softball-tossing interviewer Sarah Montague. There was no one to offer a counter opinion and not the slightest pretence of balance. It’s not just the political parties that are already in election mode; the Today programme’s manifesto is taking shape too. (Interview can be heard here)

Immediately after Dorling, Justin Webb interviewed Sir David King about his proposal to have a climate scientist on the Bank of England’s monetary policy committee. King got very irate when Webb brought up the CRU emails. Even though Webb wasn’t challenging the consensus view, the very mention of the emails is now considered off-limits as far as the high priests of the Warmist cult are concerned. Webb took his punishment meekly, like a good on-message Today presenter should. (Interview can be heard here)

Here’s a rushed transcript of the relevant segment:

King: It’s rather like the fact that there’s a labour market economist on the MPC itself, on the group, designed to stop monetarists riding roughshod over the jobless people. In other words that person has a particular hat to wear, and I’m saying why not put someone on there who understands energy, energy technology, low carbon moves and wears that hat and can express it right there when policies are being decided on our finances.

Webb: You look at the University of East Anglia emails and you do wonder, actually, whether putting someone there would just make them a target, quite apart from anyone else, a target from their own colleagues. It’s not settled enough, is it, to have someone doing the job and everyone accepting that they are doing the right job?

King: Good heavens. What are you saying is not settled enough? The science of climate change?

Webb: No, not the science, but the arguments, the flurries of discussion and dissent among the scientists themselves, and that to have someone there…

King: There is very little discussion and dissent among the scientists. That’s a total misreading of the theft of the UEA emails.

Webb: Well you can see it in the emails, can’t you?

King: (getting angry now) I’m sorry, that is an interpretation of the emails – the scientific community is of one voice on the issue. Is the planet warming up at the moment? That was the issue around the emails, and our Met Office, not involved in the issue, has published its own set of data this week demonstrating that of course we know icebergs are melting, we’re losing ice around the planet, every single piece of evidence from satellites, from temperature measurements is showing that the temperature has risen by three quarters of a degree centigrade.

Webb: OK, and you want that information to be there at the top table in the Treasury, in the Bank of England. Sir David, thank you very much.

“Sir David, thank you very much. May I have another?

Does anybody else get the impression that Sir David has been rattled by Climategate? As more and more holes appear in their theory, King and his fellow zealots become ever more shrill in their declaration that the science is settled and that all dissent should be crushed. Talking of which, check out the Stalinist heading to King’s article in the latest Prospect magazine:

The Bank’s green future
Darling is getting it wrong on climate change. Now scientists must shape monetary policy.

Update 13.30. Just noticed that Umbongo mentioned these two interviews in the comments to an earlier blog post. Don’t want to deprive anybody of a tip of the hat.

Hitchens on Today

Christopher Hitchens has had two fairly well publicised articles out during the past week. The first, from Newsweek, attacked Sarah Palin; the second more recent piece appeared in Slate and attacked “the host of damage-control commentators” who rushed to claim that religion was not a motivating factor in the Fort Hood killings.

No prizes for guessing which topic Hitchens was invited on the Today programme to discuss just before 7 this morning. Also, no surprise that Hitchens – well-known for his anti-Palin views – was the only person interviewed. I very much doubt that it even crossed the minds of the Today editors to seek the perspective of a commentator with a more sympathetic opinion of Palin. In the highly unlikely event that Hitchens had been asked on to discuss Fort Hood, I thinks it’s a near certainty that an opposing voice would’ve been heard.

Climate alert – hell freezes briefly

Yesterday morning climate change sceptic Ian Plimer was interviewed on the Today programme. This stunning occurrence caused outrage among eco-activists. The Media Lens message board went nuclear wind turbine over the issue. Among the many who complained to the BBC was Green Party councillor Dr Rupert Read. The response he received from Today programme assistant editor Roger Hermiston included this admission:

We reflect the orthodoxy in the climate change debate, day in, day out, 300-365 days a year. Just every so often – and it is very rarely– we take a look at other opinions… And to talk about the “oxygen of publicity ” at 8.53 in the morning is, I would respectfully suggest, getting things a little out of proportion.

So even when they “very rarely” look at these other opinions, they do it well away from prime time. It’s not telling us anything we don’t know, but it’s nice to see it in writing.

Dr Read sent a follow-up email in which he stated pompously:

“I teach at the University of East Anglia, the world’s premier climate science institutions [sic]”

The email doesn’t mention his speciality, but his Wikipedia entry does:

Rupert Read is a Green Party of England and Wales politician, Reader in philosophy at the University of East Anglia

Ian Plimer, on the other hand, is merely the Professor of Mining Geology in the Geology and Geophysics department of the School of Earth & Environmental Sciences at the University of Adelaide. How dare the BBC interview him about the climate when there are philosophers on hand!

I note also the opening line of Read’s reply:

Dear Mr. Hermiston;
Thanks for writing back, and so swiftly.

Who else has ever received any kind of response from the Today programme, let alone a swift one?

Update. Via David Thompson, here’s a promo clip for a forthcoming edition of BBC World Service programme The Forum in which artist Antony Gormley “reflects the orthodoxy” (as Roger Hermiston might say):

Update 2. Rush Limbaugh has a new climate change related promo, too. Mmm mmm mmm. Heh heh heh.

Earley Morning

James Naughtie introducing a Steve Earle interview this morning:

“The American singer-songwriter Steve Earle has been interviewed quite often on this programme over the years about his political views.”

I can’t for the life of me think what it is about the political views of this anti-Bush, anti-war, anti-Guantanamo, anti-death penalty left-wing American singer-songwriter that makes him such a favourite on the Today programme.

Party Posturing?

I listened with astonishment to the interview with David Miliband and William Hague on Today.

Halfway through the interview about the uselessness of having a referendum after ratification, they started chatting about the spat over the Tory party’s partnership/ alliance with Poland. David Miliband is furious because he thinks remarks made by Polish MEP Michal Kaminski are antisemitic, even though the Chief Rabbi of Poland has come to Mr. Kaminski’s defence.
I don’t know whether Mr. Kaminski is antisemitic by Polish standards, and I know very little about the implications of David Cameron’s relationship with his new best friends, but was surprised about Mr. Miliband’s outrage.

Considering the the government’s pro Muslim position – in general, and regarding immigration, not to mention their non vote on the Goldstone resolution, his outrage looked a bit disingenuous. I couldn’t find the promised statement on the Today website either. Can anyone help?

John Humphrys might have given them a more penetrating grilling than James Naughtie’s limp questioning, though maybe not in a good way.

Today’s Forecast Wrong Again

Today programme news bulletins this morning:

6am – “Figures to be released this morning could show that the UK economy grew slightly in the third quarter of this year. If confirmed it would be the first quarterly growth since early 2008 and would mean that the recession is technically over.”

7am and 8am – “Many analysts expect figures out today will show that the British economy has started growing again…”

8.30am – “The latest figures for gross domestic product due to be published in the next hour are expected to show the economy grew between July and September…”

10am – BBC News website:

The UK economy unexpectedly contracted by 0.4% between July and September, according to official figures, meaning the country is still in recession.

It is the first time UK gross domestic product (GDP) has contracted for six consecutive quarters, since quarterly figures were first recorded in 1955.