The furore over the Today programme giving air time to climate-change denier Nigel Lawson this morning [Thursday] is significant for the way that two of the network’s leading contributors have led the chorus of complaints.
Professor Brian Cox – TV and radio’s most high-profile scientist — and the equally respected Jim Al-Khalili did not hold back in putting the programme on the spot.
“For @BBCr4today to bring on Lord Lawson ‘in the name of balance’ on climate change is both ignorant and irresponsible,” tweeted Al-Khalili, longtime presenter of Radio 4’s The Life Scientific. “Shame on you.”
It was in response to that tweet that Cox tweeted: “I agree with @jimalkhalili. Irresponsible and highly misleading to give the impression that there is a meaningful debate about the science.”
Radio 4 has broadcast nearly 100 episodes of Cox’s popular science series The Infinite Monkey Cage since it began in 2009. The Life Scientific is an interview programme in which Al-Khalili talks to leading scientists. Dozens have come on the programme since it began in 2011.
The Today programme’s decision to allow Lord Lawson to respond to its interview with climate change campaigner Al Gore flies in the face of the censuring it received in 2014 after the one-time Conservative Chancellor had appeared on the programme debating with Professor Sir Brian Hoskins, head of the Grantham Institute for Climate Change at Imperial College.
The BBC Editorial Complaints Unit upheld the complaints that followed, concluding that the programme “gave an inaccurate and misleading impression of the evidence”.
Complaints flooded in after Lawson’s latest appearance and it remains to be seen whether the Unit will be called into action again.