Two months ago, John Oliver delivered a bruising critique of the way TV networks handle science coverage. And now an independent progress report from within the BBC seems to agree with his message: climate change deniers and other skeptics of established science deserve less time in front of viewers. "Impartiality in science coverage does not simply lie in reflecting a wide range of views," reads the report from the BBC Trust.
In recent years, over 200 BBC staff members have attended workshops designed to help them base editorial decisions around the "due weight" of science-related facts and opinions. "The Trust wishes to emphasize the importance of attempting to establish where the weight of scientific agreement may be found and make that clear to audiences," the report says.
To be clear, John Oliver didn't influence this opinion. The BBC has wrestled with striking the right balance for years now, with its recent progress report building upon a 2011 review that addressed accuracy and impartiality of science coverage. That review highlighted an "over-rigid" approach to impartiality that often gave "undue attention to marginal opinion" — the exact problem that Oliver latched onto when he blasted cable news for giving fringe opinions too much screen time.
But critics shouldn't have their voices extinguished altogether. Instead, the BBC Trust says reaching an ideal balance of coverage would allow viewers to make their own decisions and dismiss the crazies. It'd also give Bill Nye a breather in his endless quest to discredit their nonsense. "Audiences should be able to understand from the context and clarity of the BBC’s output what weight to give to critical voices," reads the report.