BBC Executive Complaints Unit’s Response to my Appeal for a Reconsideration of their ‘Final Decision’, re Radio 4’s Ep. 6: ‘Reposition Global Warming’ Report ….

So, did I succeed in getting a direct response from the top ECU administrator regarding my appeal? Yes! He responded to my August 21 email appeal which I reproduced in my August 24 blog post.

What was his response on August 31?

Verbatim:

Dear Mr Cook

Thank you for your email of 21 August and your comments on the Executive Complaints Unit’s finding. I’m sorry it has taken longer than I would have liked to respond.

I appreciate you have asked the Unit to rescind its decision on your complaint but as I explained, if you wish to take your complaint further, it is open to you to contact the independent regulator, Ofcom. You can do so using the link I provided in the Unit’s finding.

Yours sincerely
Colin Tregear
BBC Executive Complaints Unit

Ok. But that prompted the following email from me, with the pressing question in its subject line:

Subject: Re: CAS-6241179 Executive Complaints Unit Email 31 Aug — can you explain why ECU cannot rescind its decision, though?

Mr Tregear,

I appreciate the direct email response! I’d found the email address you’re using here in my due diligence effort to learn a little more about you, but felt that since the address was not seen at a BBC website, it would be inappropriate to use it in my prior email appeal to ECU. Elsewhere, I found an online article saying that only 30 people at BBC handle the the more serious complaints, and that only you and your staff take on the most serious ones.

I firmly believe my complaint is a gravely serious one regarding the credibility of the BBC.

Since it is you who made the incorrect assumption regarding what I was saying about the “Information Council for the Environment”, which by default steered the direction of the three points of your decision (including your pointing to newspaper ads having the never-used “Informed Citizens” logo / incorrect toll-free number), I ask why you cannot reconsider the matter entirely. I never said or implied the ICE campaign didn’t happen, I did my best within the limited confines of the online BBC forms to say that the particular subset of the “reposition global warming” which suggested targeting “older, less educated males” and “young, low income women” was never used as a set of operating directives for any misinformation campaign anywhere, and no industry executives ever saw it as a template plan they could use later. Therefore it cannot serve as evidence to say disinformation campaigns run by the fossil fuel industry exist. If the BBC claims that Exxon knew AGW is settled science but instead maliciously directed shill scientists and think tanks to knowingly spread disinformation, then the BBC must show the direct evidence of those directives. Not speculation of what people think might have been used.

This isn’t your fault, however. The guest of that Radio 4 podcast report, Kert Davies, offered the sinister-sounding “reposition global warming” that he falsely attributed to the ICE campaign as definitive proof of industry-directed disinformation campaigns. I posit that Kert Davies misled Phoebe Keane, Peter Pomerantsev, the Radio 4 staff, and the BBC overall by pushing that subset as evidence when he either may know full well that it was never used, or — arguably worse from an investigative journalism standpoint — he may have instead never made the effort to verify if that memo subset was ever actually implemented. Neither situation looks good for Davies; he is either one of the most inept investigators of the political side of the issue out there, or he has potentially committed one of the most far-reaching acts of libel / slander in U.S. history.

By default, that’s why this looks gravely serious for the BBC, if Phoebe Keane, Peter Pomerantsev, and the Radio 4 staff undertook no basic due diligence investigation to find out if what Kert Davies offered had any validity. The result was that BBC misled a worldwide listening audience who otherwise now believes that, back in the day, Rush Limbaugh was paid oil money as part of a scheme to influence the dumb “older white males” in his national audience of millions, and that this template about ‘achieving victory when we reposition global warming as theory rather than fact’ is the same thing Exxon, Shell, etc operate under today.

This is why I urge you to rescind your decision and mount a further investigation into the matter. BBC has far greater resources than I do, therefore BBC should be fully able to corroborate what I say about Ivan Brandon, Fred Palmer, Ned Leonard, Fred Lukens, who’ve told me personally that the “reposition global warming” memo subset was never implemented or even seen by more than one or two people within the genuine ICE campaign. One more thing on that: I see lately that some enviros, apparently including Kert Davies, are backpedaling away from attributing that memo set to the Western Fuels Association, and instead claim the Edison Electric Institute was the leader of this specific set of sinister directives. Nossir. Utilize the resources of the BBC to find Greenwire’s June 20, 1991 fax report news brief titled “Inside Track: Sowing Seeds of Doubt in the Greenhouse”, and you will see for yourself how the report unequivocally states, “A spokeswoman for the Edison Electric Institute emphasized to GREENWIRE that the electric utility trade group is taking no part in the campaign except to provide survey results.”

Basically, I’m looking out for your benefit. You can make the decision to rescind ECU’s decision at your level, before it gets to the Ofcom level. Rather than face the necessity later to explain how this Radio 4 podcast report fell apart, you can solve the problem now.
– Russell Cook
Ps. Again, feel free to ask me any questions you have about my involvement in this specific matter, what led me into it, etc. Pose the same questions to Kert Davies, ask him about his earliest history with it, and ask what his current financial association is with a mystery company called “Our Next Economy LLC.” My wager is that Davies will flee in terror from your questions. That should tell you something about where the real problem is in this whole situation.

To his credit, the top ECU administrator replied even faster this time, less than a week later on September 6 (boldface emphasis is mine):

Dear Mr Cook

Thank you for your further email of 31 August.

I’m sorry for repeating the information I provided in my previous email but under the terms of the BBC’s Complaints Framework and Procedures, if you wish to take your complaint further, you should contact the independent regulator, Ofcom. You can see the Complaints Framework here: https://www.bbc.co.uk/contact/sites/default/files/2020-06/BBC_Complaints_Framework.pdf

Yours sincerely
Colin Tregear
BBC Executive Complaints Unit

Ok. I responded a day later, verbatim as follows (apart from embedding the web links rather than spelling them out), but this time around I assume I will get no more replies from the BBC.

Mr Tregear,

I appreciate that clarification, and thanks for the Ofcom link. Too bad it appears (I guessing) that you are restricted by the BBC’s Complaints Framework. I will be taking this complaint up to the Ofcom level. While it may have been out of your hands, I’ll say I could have arrived at this juncture sooner if the BBC Complaints people at State 1 had responded sooner, but the virus situation may have hindered things, too.

I’m aware that I likely face an uphill battle trying to convince Ofcom about the worthlessness of both the “victory will be achieved” memo set and the “reposition global warming” set. There’s already precedence that Ofcom accepted the “victory will be achieved” memo set without question as ‘evidence’ of the industry-led corruption of skeptic climate scientists. You may remember the story of the enormously long complaint against Channel 4’s 2008 broadcast of “The Great Global Warming Swindle” filed by alleged “ordinary citizen” Dave Rado. In his 176 page / approx. 68,000 word Ofcom complaint, Rado did little more than offer science points from the IPCC and elsewhere opposing science points from skeptic climate scientists … and then he challenged the credibility of those skeptics with nothing more than guilt-by-association insinuations about corrupt finding. The best ‘evidence’ he had to offer about ‘industry-led disinformation campaigns’ was the “victory will be achieved” set in his Appendix D (3rd item, PDF file page 149 / print page 145 here). Who did he credit for the info in Appendix D? Greenpeace’s Kert Davies (3rd in the list in his “1.13 Acknowledgments” section, PDF file page 16 / print page 12), immediately followed by Desmogblog’s Brendan DeMelle and Kevin Grandia, the site that was co-founded by Ross Gelbspan in 2005 (who Rado features at the top item on PDF file page 146 / print page 142). Gelbspan – as I noted in my prior email – is the person who most famously gave the “reposition global warming” set its first major media traction in 1997 in his “The Heat is On” book.

It’s understandable that Radio 4 would be among the latest to fall victim to the compelling, plausible-sounding yet groundless accusation that disinformation campaigns exist, based on those two worthless memo sets. The Guardian’s George Monbiot fell for this back in 2009 on the “reposition” set (albeit hooked by Naomi Oreskes, which is a whole other story) and he demonstrated that again in mid-July this year with the “victory” memo set (9th paragraph) where his link for the memo set goes to no less than the non-attributed version of the copies from Greenpeace’s Kert Davies.

My opinion, perhaps, but the reason why this accusation has continued for so long is not because it is actually sound, but rather because no major news reporting outlet has ever challenged it. It’s just that simple. But when any objective examiner starts digging deeply into it, the accusation fractures apart, while drawing attention to the hugely questionable actions of the people promulgating it. The simplest questions arise: Why did Monbiot say Oreskes made the “reposition” memo set available online, when she never did? How did Dave “simple person” Rado manage to bash out a 68,000 word+ Ofcom complaint in just the span of 95 days? (Do the math on that, in relation to how much he says his co-authors ‘wrote’) Why do so many label Ross Gelbspan a Pultizer Prize winner when he never won a Pultizer? Why did Al Gore say Gelbspan discovered the “reposition” set when Gore himself quoted from that set (pg 360) in his 1992 “Earth in the Balance” book, years before Gelbspan ever mentioned the set?

Simply said, the BBC could salvage its credibility in a big way by turning the tables against Kert Davies et al. in tough examinations of why his and his friends efforts have all the appearance in the world of being a disinformation campaign designed to undercut the credibility of skeptic climate scientists.

– Russell Cook

So, it’s off to Ofcom I go. Stay tuned for my future blog post report on that. My paragraph above about Dave Rado’s Ofcom complaint is actually just a small part of my 7-part series on that situation, which is a whole other story.
————————————————————————
The series of posts on this, in order of appearance, not including the one above:

  1. my July 31, 2020 blog post, “BBC Radio 4 vs Rush Limbaugh: ‘How They Made Us Doubt Everything’ Episode 6 ‘Reposition Global Warming as theory, not fact’” — on the elemental faults with the accusation within the podcast report about ‘leaked memos’ that supposedly were evidence for the accusation.
  2. my August 5, 2020 “BBC Radio 4 vs Rush Limbaugh, Pt 2: ‘I don’t remember this stupid ad.’” — the late radio show host reacts to the BBC podcast report and a particular false line in it.
  3. my October 6, 2020 “BBC ( sort of … ) Corrects Radio 4…” — where the correction explained nothing while making one error bigger.
  4. my July 9, 2021 “Status Update: my complaint to BBC … ” — in which the senior editorial staff at Radio 4 basically only dug a deeper hole for themselves, via what is described as the Stage 1 part of the BBC Complaints system.
  5. my August 18, 2021 “BBC’s Exec Complaints Unit Responds …” — featuring the verbatim reproduction of the top ECU administrator’s ‘final decision on my complaint … in which he digs a hole for himself with a false assumption he made about a key item in my complaint.
  6. my August 24, 2021 “Appeal for a Reconsideration of BBC’s ECU ‘Final Decision’” — where I attempt to show the top ECU administrator why his faulty assumption about my complaint warrants the action of him rescinding his ‘final decision.’