LAST week, BBC 1 screened a full-length documentary on Extinction Rebellion. The programme was clearly intended to give XR the appearance of being a serious and sizeable organisation. Just note that introduction: ‘A huge new global protest movement’.
XR are very secretive about how many members they have, but the numbers involved in protests on the streets have been minuscule. For instance, a protest in Sheffield in April attracted only about 20 people. Significantly the programme notes state the BBC reporter was with XR for months leading up to the April protests:
In this timely and powerful documentary, reporter Ben Zand gains access to the most important of the protest groups, Extinction Rebellion. He is with them for four months as they build towards ‘the rebellion’ – 11 days of protest in April during which they take over and occupy four iconic locations in London.
Yet XR did not appear on the public scene until October 2018, when they held their first protest in London. So Ben Zand patently was not responding to an existing phenomenon. Instead the BBC wanted him in at the very outset, to give them the publicity they desperately needed.
We have already seen how Roger Harrabin, the BBC’s ‘environment analyst’, has been keen to give unjustified prominence to both XR and the school kids’ climate strikes to give the impression that they are both widespread, popular movements, and not the Rag, Tag and Bobtail outfits which they really are.
The nature of this hand-in-glove relationship is made clear with the news from XR that on Thursday they met BBC senior management ‘to discuss how the network can address the Climate and Ecological Emergency.’ This is how XR announced the BBC meeting in advance:
The meeting, organised by Director General Sir Tony Hall, will examine the BBC’s approach to reporting on the crisis and how it can lead the way with a suitably urgent response. The BBC will be represented by Controller of Factual Commissioning Alison Kirkham; Head of Specialist Factual and Natural History Commissioning Tom McDonald; News & Current Affairs Editor James Stephenson; and Director of Editorial Policy and Standards David Jordan.
Representing Extinction Rebellion UK will be: Cofounder Dr Gail Bradbrook; Extinction Rebellion Youth Outreach and Logistics Coordinator Daze Aghaji; Media Tell The Truth Campaign Coordinators Jon Fuller and Donnachadh McCarthy; plus Media and Messaging Coordinator Ronan McNern.
Extinction Rebellion representative Daze Aghaji said: ‘The BBC has started making an attempt but we’re still nowhere near where we need to be in terms of reporting in the midst of this crisis. I urge the BBC to keep young people and our future in their minds as they think about programming. We must show integrity in the face of the climate crisis, together we must tell the truth about this emergency now.’
This is utterly disgraceful. Why is Tony Hall prepared for his senior management team even to meet this self-appointed bunch of eco-loons, never mind discuss how the BBC should be reporting on climate change?
Would he be meeting sceptics who believe that the BBC’s approach on climate matters is already far too extreme, and is failing to give viewers a properly balanced coverage? I think we know the answer to that!
h/t Robin Guenier
This article first appeared in Not A Lot Of People Know That on July 19, 2019, and is republished by kind permission.