Jamie Angus was appointed editor of Radio 4’s flagship Today programme almost a year ago, in May 2013. Monitoring by Newswatch has shown that a highlight of his tenure to date is that the programme devoted 83 minutes to items on Nelson Mandela on the day of his death – the highest total for any single topic since the introduction of euro notes and coins on January 1, 2002.
Under his watch, too, his main and highest-profile presenter, John Humphrys, has declared that he believes the Corporation has been guilty of ‘bias by omission’ – that is, excluding key figures from appearances in the debate about key topics such as the EU and immigration.
So who is Mr Angus? He had previously worked for the BBC World Service, where he held ‘senior editorial roles’. He was also editor of R4’s World at One, and briefly – in the wake of the Savile and McAlpine debacles – acting deputy editor of BBC2’s Newsnight.
But the web in general – and the BBC’s own website – is curiously silent about him. He seems to have risen without a trace through the BBC’s ranks. Apart from a spasmodic and rather boring BBC blog, he has virtually no web profile at all. That must be through choice and careful management.
In fact, his only public recorded utterance was on his appointment to Today, when he said the programme was at the heart of Radio 4 news and central to what the BBC offered its audiences.
Whatever his background, behind the scenes he is now making rulings that nail his colours to the mast. The Biased BBC website reports that, in effect, he has declared that the debate over ‘climate change’ is over. The background is that listeners were worried that those who challenge climate alarmism hardly ever appear on his programme, as was evidenced by a recent very rare interview with the widely-known sceptic, the former Chancellor, Lord Lawson on February 13. Mr Angus wrote in response:
‘The BBC’s reviewed its coverage of climate change and climate science, and it has set out some admirably clear guidelines for us to follow. We are able to put on air people who take a differing view from the majority view of climate science. However, that coverage should be proportional, and I think that any reasonable listener who listened to Today’s coverage of climate change, across the past three months, would probably find that Lord Lawson was the only climate sceptic, if you like, who’d appeared in that period. And I think, you know, when Justin and I and the programme team discussed that interview, we thought we’d allowed it to drift too much into a straight yes-no argument about the science. And of course the settled view of the expert scientists is just that – settled, and I believe that our coverage reflects that, over the long term.‘
Put another way, Mr Angus says that he, his fellow editor, the BBC as a whole and his programme team, have decided:
· The issues around ‘climate change’ are known and decided because that’s what the majority believe and because it’s ‘the settled view’ of ‘expert scientists’.
· It’s a big favour putting on Today anyone who disbelieves the science is settled, because such appearances should be ‘proportional’ to point 1.
· Climate change debates on the programme, on the very rare occasions they do occur, should not allow a simple ‘no’ perspective – because yet again, the science is settled.
What this actually means is that anyone who disagrees with the party line, if they appear at all, will be pushed to the margins of Today and not allowed to argue, especially if it against the majority verdict. Of course, the BBC Trustees, in their infinite wisdom, have already separately and definitively decided that climate science is settled. The only surprising element of Mr Angus’s unquestioning obeisance is the Orwellian, mechanistic, dictatorial tone. And, whoever Mr Angus is, he appears not to have the faintest glimmering of an understanding that science is not, and never has been, decided by ‘majority views’ but by the facts.
That, as Christopher Booker notes, may be the BBC groupthink, but it’s not the real world.