Meanwhile, back at the batcave …

… Peter Rippon, editor of Newsnight, has responded to the complaints about how an audio clip of President Obama’s inaugural speech was spliced, had its order altered, and then was rejoined to make a new sentence never actually spoken by Obama.

The original post in Harmless Sky can be read here. My B-BBC post on the subject is here.

Mr Rippon writes,

We did edit sections of the speech to reflect the elements in it that referred to Science. The aim was to give people an impression or montage of what Obama said about science in his inauguration speech. This was signposted to audiences with fades between each point. It in no way altered the meaning or misrepresented what the President was saying.

I don’t think Mr Rippon’s response answers the objections raised.

Point one: fades, what fades? Listening to the audio clip there is a change in the quality of the background sound at the first splice point, which I initially heard as a faint sound but now think is just a discontinuity. No one who was not listening specifically for the break point would ever think it was anything other than a continuous flow of speech. Fades are meant to, you know, fade.

Point two: there is not even that at the second break point – it runs smoothly on.

Point three: what about the alteration of the order? Someone just offering up a montage of phrases doesn’t mess with the order such that a new, coherent (but never actually spoken) sentence is created.

Point four: the meaning was altered and TonyN’s original post in Harmless Sky explained very clearly why. He wrote, “Paragraph 16 does not refer to climate change in any way, but to economic and infrastructure problems. The reference to harnessing the sun, wind and soil could as easily refer to energy security as global warming.” But in the BBC version it does appear to refer to global warming.

I would add that in the original sentence as spoken by Obama, “We will restore science to its rightful place, and wield technology’s wonders to raise health care’s quality and lower its cost”, the fact that science being restored to its rightful place is immediately followed by a reference to healthcare gives me the strong impression that it was meant to refer to lifting restrictions on the federal funding of research into embryonic stem cells. The BBC version, “We will restore science to its rightful place – roll back the spectre of a warming planet”, makes it sound as if the restoration of science to its rightful place refers to President Bush’s alleged scepticism over global warming. This interpretation is reinforced by the whole tone of Susan Watts’ blog post and video essay: “But in climate change and other key challenges of science, Bush wouldn’t listen to the scientists. He didn’t like their view of the world, and he didn’t like what they were saying.”

Blimey, that sounds like something aimed at ten-year olds. I am not Obama’s biggest fan, but at least when speaking in his own words he sounds like he is addressing adults.

BBC spliced and joined separate parts of President Obama’s speech in order to make it appear to take a stronger line on global warming.

Steve T in comments pointed out this post by TonyN of “Harmless Sky”.

TonyN links to an audio clip of Obama apparently saying, “We will restore science to its rightful place, [and] roll back the spectre of a warming planet. We will harness the sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.”

But, as TonyN writes:

I didn’t seem to remember him saying that at all.

When the program [i.e. Newsnight – NS] was over, I went back to the text and this is what I found.

It would seem that someone at the BBC had taken the trouble to splice the tape so that half a sentence from paragraph 16 of the inauguration speech was joined on to half a sentence from paragraph 22, and this apparently continuous sound bite was completed by returning to paragraph 16 again to lift another complete sentence.

Read the rest of his detailed analysis. Incidentally, I couldn’t hear an “and” at the first splice-point of the audio clip, just an unidentifiable noise.

(Added later.) To make one sentence out of two widely separated half-sentences would be shabby and manipulative enough for a broadcaster. To then interfere with the order in which things were said, so that the sentence fragment about “a warming planet” has been falsely interposed between other phrases to which it had no real link, is yet worse. The BBC has gone beyond “dowdification” into something else. “Beebification”, perhaps.

(Another update.) You can hear the spliced audio clip directly from the BBC in the “video essay” at the base of this blog post by Susan Watts, Newsnight‘s science editor. Quite apart from the splicing, the Susan Watts post itself would provide material enough for another B-BBC post (“Scientists have grown used to attempts to silence them”) – but I have to be gone.

UPDATE 24 JAN.: There is a further post discussing the response of the editor of Newsnight to complaints about this here.


You would need a heart of stone not to laugh! The BBC went ape crazy about the Large Hadron Collider just over a week ago, with maximum media overkill. Now it transpires that it will be out of action for at least two months. Part of the giant physics experiment was turned off for the weekend while engineers probed a magnet failure. But a Cern spokesman said damage to the £3.6bn ($6.6bn) particle accelerator was worse than anticipated. The curse of the BBC……!


Proselytising for man-made global warming is a major theme running through many BBC alleged news items. If we get through a day without being asked to worry about the polar bears drowning or some other such invented headline grabbing nonsense, then some little greenie Beeboid has failed in his solemn duty to preach the gospel of the eco-wacko left to us sinners.

Any notion that our preening State broadcaster might approach the important topic of climate change in a serious and balanced manner is just so much, erm, hot air! You see for the Beeb the wisdom of Rev Al Gore prevails, “the debate is over” and now it’s time that we paid for our wicked excesses. (Literally, by accepting nefarious eco-taxation, for example)

I read this latest PR exercise on behalf of the anthropogenic global warming fanatics with some bemusement. The story here is that a study commissioned by the pro-AGW Government has found that AGW could lead to the possibility of the UK experiencing lethal heat waves in the summer but milder winters. Malaria outbreaks remain a possibility, oh and if that doesn’t get you, the floods will! Dog bites man. A real story would be covering one of the many reports which throw cold water on the scalded AGW topic – man bites dog!However even the tenured authors of this report acknowledge that “in conventional thinking” terms predicting these drastic temperature changes is “difficult.” I’ll say – if we can’t predict with any certainty the weather for the next seven days what is the likelihood of getting a four year forecast right? I also love the way this historically unprecedented putative heat wave is instantly linked to 6000 deaths, how scientific is that?

By way of balance, no one who disputes AGW claims gets to comment at all but good luck ensures that a spokesman for the NHS gets to declare that tackling climate change is a key priority for our Health Service. Sorry? An NHS which struggles to deal with lethal bugs in its own filthy wards is now out to tackle dangerous gases in our atmosphere? More taxes to pay for this brave NHS initiative?

It’s interesting to consider how this all works. The State Broadcaster propagates the ideology of its paymasters in Westminster, via a State funded report, and uses the State Health Service to underline just how awful things will be unless we change our lives and accept what the State declares to be best for us. Don’t know about you but Northern Ireland could sure do with some hot summers – I’ll buy air conditioning if necessary!