Friday, December 09, 2005

How the British plotted to defame all Americans?

In the wake of the accusations of misleading, 'selective' editing leveled, possibly with some justification, at the BBC over their recent 'Real Story' feature, I thought I'd tweak an eyebrow at this headline from a major national daily recently, that seems to me to fall into the 'stir it up for ratings no matter what' category:

How America plotted to stop Kyoto deal

It had the following intro: "A detailed and disturbing strategy document has revealed an extraordinary American plan to destroy Europe's support for the Kyoto treaty on climate change."

It seems the basis for this story is a 'plan'... "put together by a lobbyist who is a senior official at a group partly funded by ExxonMobil.."

Smoking gun-wise, we also have that " of his colleagues who describes himself as an adviser to President George Bush ­ was the subject of a censure motion by the Commons last year after he attacked the Government's chief scientist."

So what have we got here (allowing for selective editing on my part)? A draft plan, put together by an individual American, possibly on behalf of an American company, and his link to the American government is a colleague who 'describes himself' as an adviser to Dubya. Hmn.

I don't doubt the facts. And though I may not approve of this chap's actions, as the article conceded he's doing nothing that is illegal or really to be unexpected when the stakes are so high all round.

But as my subject title seeks to show (with a cowardly ? at the end to show it may or may not be accurate; another trick favoured by those with an eye to a lazy rating), the actions of a UK editor for a UK paper do not necessarily reflect the views of the rest of the UK media, its government or people.

Some of my best friends are Americans. And knowing their environmental views, I am pretty sure most, and a lot more like them,  do not really deserve to be tarred with such a broad brush in this way. I know in the democratic process the government and those it governs - from corporates to the average Joe - often are, and should be, seen as one. 

But in this case I don't think that headline did anyone any favours, especially those seeking balanced debate based on objective information.

Which is a pity, because this is a rare medium which seems to have grasped that something needs to change, along with our climate, and is throwing some worthy effort at doing something about it.