Strike three for TVNZRichard Treadgold | June 7, 2013
Sorry, I’ve been trying to post this for a week. – Richard Treadgold
Wrong, but no apology
TVNZ now admits to me that its press release was wrong in claiming that Dr Renwick blamed the recent drought on global warming.
But TVNZ don’t apologise to us or the New Zealand public — or even to Dr Renwick. The Corporate Affairs Department is entirely absorbed in explaining their mistake, rather than caring that they made it.
That’s the third strike against these public relations masters.
Un – be – lievable.
Professor Renwick exonerated
Two weeks ago I announced TVNZ’s obvious error in their press release about a March interview between Corin Dann and James Renwick. At first I believed the press release (as you would) but after questioning Dr Renwick myself I issued a public apology to him.
Then I wrote to TVNZ complaining that they were wrong, but someone didn’t read my letter properly, thought I was complaining too late about a broadcast and rejected the complaint.
After a second letter from us, they finally understood that we made “a genuine point” and responded a few days ago.
TVNZ now agrees it got the March press release wrong. Hurrah! But it quickly adds: “to the extent” that Prof Renwick — and note the wording here that tries to be oh so clever — “didn’t use the word ‘drought’ in connection with his remark “…there’s no other explanation that’s remotely plausible.”
Their press release stated incorrectly:
“Dr Renwick told the programme that global warming was the only explanation for the drought.”
I knew this because I asked Dr Renwick and he said in his email to me:
I note a number of people … have made the leap to thinking that I said “the drought is caused by climate change”. This is just not so.
My letter to TVNZ concluded:
We are interested to know why you reported that Dr Renwick made that statement and whether you will apologise.
Now we have a reply from TVNZ Corporate Affairs spokeswoman Megan Richards that says:
we accept the assurance [Dr Renwick] has apparently given you that he did not blame the drought on global warming. We assure you and your readers that in any future coverage of climate issues by Q+A we will be on the alert for such distinctions.
The distinction she refers to is
an important distinction between claiming global warming is responsible for an average increase in temperatures over time and claiming global warming is directly responsible for a single, specific weather event such as a drought.
A good result in the end, but it’s disappointing not to hear them apologise for quoting a scientist incorrectly in a press release. Not merely incorrectly, but presenting a diametrically opposite viewpoint.
Ah well, now we know. Here’s her letter: