The BBC, Lapwings and Fake news

Bird spotting with Chris
In this time of fake news and alternative facts you’d think the BBC ( especially given previous historic scandals ) might be careful about what those they give a platform to say in public. So as I have a slight interest in hunting and shooting I was interested as to how the BBC responded when challenged about false claims made by one of their presenters. In this case it was that darling of Birtish Wildlife programs Mr Christopher Packham. Mr Packham has been promoting his anti-shooting campaign claiming that Lapwings are being shot resulting in their numbers declining. He got called on this and a mere five hours later retrated the claim. The apology didn’t of course involve removing the tweets which were still being shared and used to drive people towards his government petition. His campaign to remove waders from the list of allowed game has included several foreign species, species that are already illegal to shoot and ignores the work done by the shooting campaign in conservation work for waders.

As Mr Packham has a bit of a track record for playing fast and lose with facts regarding British wildlife and various countryside interest groups some people thought that maybe it was time to contact the BBC and ask if this was appropriate behaviour for one of the presenters of a popular wildlife show. After all his appearance as an “expert” on the BBC does lend him a certain amount of gravitas and he’d not have the size of public platform he does with out it. The whole debacle garnered quite a bit of coverage, though not on the BBC whose news articles mainly talk about lapwings recovery. It will possibly come as little surprise to you that the BBC’s standard response was basically:
“Nothing to do with us guv, we only hire him and he can say what he likes elsewhere”
Or to be more precise:

Dear Schmuck

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns regarding Chris Packham’s recent tweet about lapwings.

Chris’s association with the BBC is primarily for the Watches’ programmes, where he helps to explain the science of nature. This is separate from his work outside of and independent to the BBC.

Outside of his BBC commitments he is an independent broadcaster and a respected naturalist in his own right.

His personal Twitter account has no connection to the BBC or any of the Watches’ social media accounts and we remain confident that our audience is able to distinguish between Chris as a presenter on a BBC series and his personally expressed views as a naturalist.

We hope this explains our position and thank you for taking the time to contact us.

Kind Regards

BBC Complaints Team

NB This is sent from an outgoing account only which is not monitored. You cannot reply to this email address but if necessary please contact us via our webform quoting any case number we provided.

One can’t help but wonder that the BBC is so unconcerned about their “experts” spreading alternative facts and fake news, and how their “experts” make use of the platform the BBC give them to promote their other interests. As Mr Packham was using his alternative facts to drive people towards signing a parliamentary petition – it’s hard to escape the niggling feeling that the BBC are knowingly being party to the dissemination of fake news with the intent to influence democratic processes. Which I thought we were all against – you would have thought by now the BBC would have learnt it’s lesson and if not publicly admonishing Mr Packham at least be questioning their continued involvement with him. After all they’re not shy of taking action or at least making their position clear when some celebrity or other makes some off hand out of hours comment that someone takes offence to. It could make one suspect that the BBC was happy to support the use of alternative facts when it supports agendas they agree with.

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