Andrew Bolt’s comments about climate change on his television show were so hyperbolic and subjective that no reasonable person would think he was providing a “concluded scientific position”, the television regulator has found.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) found The Bolt Report did not breach the Commercial Television Industry’s Code of Practice when Mr Bolt presented facts about global temperatures in an episode aired on Southern Cross Ten in late 2015.
In particular, by showing a graph of global temperatures from 1997 to present, Mr Bolt was correct to say “there has been no real warming of the atmosphere for some 18 years now”. However, the full chart goes back to 1979 and shows an increase in temperatures from 1979 to 1997.
ACMA noted that, while climate change was occurring, the code’s requirements for accuracy only applied to statements of fact, not statements of opinion.
“Current affairs programs such as The Bolt Report are not precluded from taking a position of any matter and are not required to be balanced or to include all information about a particular issue,” ACMA’s report found.
“Much of Mr Bolt’s language was hyperbolic, such as ‘great global warming scare campaign’, ‘Australians aren’t stupid’, ‘can’t be fooled for long’, ‘all that propaganda’ … The use of hyperbole indicated that Mr Bolt was giving his subjective personal opinion about the matters being discussed and was not presenting a concluded scientific position about global warming in the segment.”
Ten told ACMA Mr Bolt was presenting “his opinion based on material presented during the segment, rather than presenting the material as a statement of fact”.
ACMA agreed. Even though Mr Bolt said his viewers “chose facts above fear” and presented his views as facts, ACMA believed his use of overblown language would have made the ordinary person realise he was only giving an opinion.
Mr Bolt declined to comment when contacted by Fairfax Media.
The program in question aired on November 8 last year but the investigation did not start until April. Mr Bolt’s show now airs on subscription station Sky News Live.
The complaint argued that “taking small sections of larger graphs is neither accurate nor scientific” and was a way to manipulate data. It called for a correction and apology.
Co-host of Ten another show, Waleed Aly, criticised Mr Bolt’s show a month after it aired, saying Mr Bolt could not keep denying climate change because of emotional or incorrect reasons.