Nick Robinson’s article asserting that Nigel Lawson should be corrected but not silenced by the BBC on climate change (Silencing the disagreeable won’t work. Put them on air, 28 September) suggests that he and his colleagues are still ignoring the potential harm caused by the broadcast of misinformation to their audiences. Lord Lawson has a track record of misleading the public about climate change. His lobby group, the Global Warming Policy Foundation, was found in 2014 to have breached Charity Commission rules by promoting climate change denial. In the same year, the BBC upheld a complaint after Lord Lawson made inaccurate and misleading claims about climate change on the Today programme on Radio 4.

The BBC is now considering a complaint from me and others about further false claims by Lord Lawson on Today in August. In particular, the BBC needs to recognise that his erroneous assertion that extreme weather events are not increasing in frequency or intensity endangered listeners by creating the false impression that they need not respond to the rising risks of heatwaves and flooding from heavy rainfall in the UK. The BBC should properly weigh up the rights of marginal voices like Lord Lawson to mislead its audiences about the risks they face against the rights of its audiences to receive accurate information about those risks.
Bob Ward
Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment, LSE

• Nick Robinson writes a strong defence of the probing and investigative nature of a balanced media. He extols the virtues of the BBC, which indeed offers a reasonable cross-examination of ideas. But does political coverage really offer diversity? A quick search through the profiles of the BBC’s political team and their predecessors shows a long list of privately educated, white and male journalists. It is good to see gender diversity in the current political editor, Laura Kuenssberg, but it is not surprising to see that, like Nick Robinson whom she succeeded, she is also the beneficiary of an expensive private education.

A journalist’s life experiences offer foundations for their querying minds. A balanced media should be representative of all parts of our society. A case for positive discrimination for future BBC appointees in terms of educational background, gender and race is strong.
Richard Bulmer

• Nick Robinson lists a number of alternative media sites – the Canary, Wings Over Scotland etc – as opposed to mainstream media such as the BBC. I wonder where he would place the Daily Mail (“Enemies of the People”) or even more so the Daily Express (“Did EU regulation mean deadly cladding was used on Grenfell Tower?”)? They are clearly historically part of mainstream media but much of their reporting seems as “alternative” as anything the New European publishes. I think Nick makes a false distinction: the real problem is that across the board, mainstream and alternative, we have almost completely lost the idea of journalism as the first draft of history.
Ian Chisholm
Ditchling, Sussex

• Re Nick Robinson’s defence of media impartiality, I recall, when he was BBC political editor, a TV interview he had with David Cameron shortly after Cameron became PM. Cameron rolled out the Tory mantra that Gordon Brown’s Labour government had caused the global financial crisis. The camera panned to Robinson who merely nodded at this claim and made no attempt to question or dispute it.

This falsity was repeated more recently by Andrew Marr in respect of his stated view that a Labour government couldn’t be trusted to manage the national economy. The context was an interview with Jeremy Corbyn on Marr’s Sunday morning show. Corbyn corrected Marr, pointing out that the global financial crisis was the direct consequence of irresponsible speculation of the US mortgage market by several US financial bodies, which collapsed as a result, and not the Labour government of the time. Marr, visibly irritated at being corrected in this way, responded with: “It doesn’t matter who caused the global financial crisis.” A remarkable response from someone claiming to be both a journalist and a historian.
Dr Robert Smith
High Littleton, Somerset

• If there has been scepticism about BBC reporting here in Scotland, it’s as much to do with Nick Robinson’s infamous questioning of Alex Salmond in the run-up to the independence referendum as anything else. (Type “Alex Salmond Nick Robinson” in YouTube for evidence). If Robinson were ever to apologise for his own fake news we might take his views on the lack of trust in mainstream media more seriously.
John Warburton

• Silencing the “disagreeable” alternative media sites identified by Nick Robinson is a strange example of the BBC’s description of its impartiality and neutrality. Mr Robinson names seven social media “attackers” of mainstream media consisting of one anti-right, four leftwing, one pro-remain, and one far-right source. All, admittedly, anti-establishment, resulting in a full-time score of a 5-1 win to the left and one draw (52-48). Balanced reporting seems to have a problem defining “disagreeable” with such a resounding win to the left.
David John Jones

• Nick Robinson makes a stout defence of BBC News’s independence. The fact that he needs to do so speaks volumes, especially at a time when activists on the right and left think it’s acceptable to threaten reporters like Laura Kuenssberg, implicitly or otherwise.

Although I’m often infuriated by it, I don’t think the BBC is biased. The problem seems to me to be a structural one. The BBC’s importance in explaining complex subjects is constrained by the time allocated to the main news at 6pm and 10pm. Difficult subjects get snippets without time to provide context. Political and business reporters show little understanding of economics so are unable to explain that, for example, the monthly figures they have just enthused over have a wider context that is less positive. Reporters seem reluctant to challenge politicians who are lying to us, and calling out their utterances for what they are. The population generally doesn’t stay up for Newsnight or tune in to Today. Where are we to get a proper explanation of serious subjects on the BBC? Thank goodness for Channel 4 but its audience reach isn’t great.

As Robinson notes, alternative media sites are providing affirmative material for supporters of their individual causes. The responsibility on BBC News to inform and explain could not be more urgent. It has some serious thinking to do.
Bob Nicholson
Frodsham, Cheshire

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