LONDON (Bywire News) - An advisor to the United Nations has severely criticised the UK's public broadcaster, the BBC, for totally ignoring Western human rights abuses during a fierce debate about US foreign policy and the environment on Wednesday night's Newsnight programme.
Professor Jeffrey Sachs, a current serving Environmental Advisor to the UN, said that the broadcaster's framing of the debate was "not what [he had] expected" when he was asked to come on the show.
The climate change expert stated that he had initially been asked to discuss the environment, but claimed that the BBC's choice to instead debate China's human rights abuses - whilst completely ignoring human rights abuses of the West - was "absolutely bizarre".
Prior to the interview, the BBC had aired a segment (which was seen by Mr Sachs) detailing how the US's relationship with China was becoming strained due to the Asian nation's record on human rights.
The BBC segment then posed the question about whether the USA could really continue to work with China on climate change given their record on human rights.
Following the clip and after introducing her guests, Newsnight host Emma Barnett asked the UN Advisor:
"The Biden administration has been strongly critical of China's actions on human rights, but [have been] engaging [with them] on climate change. Do you think that is a strategy that can actually work?"
However, Sachs responded fiercely, challenging the BBC over their framing of the argument, stating:
"I'm not sure why the BBC started with listing only China's human rights abuses. What about America's human rights abuses?
"The Iraq war - together with the UK - [was] completely illegal and under false pretences.
“The war in Syria, the war in Libya.
"The continued sanctions against civilian populations in Venezuela and Iran.
"Walking away from the Paris Climate Agreement for the last 4 years.
"Unilateral trade actions that have been deemed illegal by the WTO.
"So one can make anything one wants, but we have really serious human rights violations by the United States abroad - not to mention an insurrection on January 6th in our own country!
"Not to mention the continued, massive racism, white supremacism, and incarceration of hundreds of thousands of black African American and people of colour in the US.
"So I think that the whole premise of this story is a little bit odd!"
Despite audible frustration from the BBC host, Mr Sachs continued to slam the broadcaster for their clearly pro-Western framing of the argument:
"I found the framing of it not what I expected - I thought we were going to talk about climate change, which we should.
"But I think that the idea that there is one party that is so guilty - 'how can we talk to them?' is just a strange way to address this issue!"
But that was far from the end of the discord.
Following an interjection by another guest, Mr Sachs was then asked by Ms Barnett whether the US human rights abuses could seriously be compared to those of China - to which he responded in a clearly exasperated tone, saying:
"I find this discussion absolutely bizarre.
"Shall we talk about the US dropping bombs and flying US war planes over Yemen - creating mass destruction right now?
"Shall we talk about how many people have died in Iraq because of the US's illegal actions?
“This is just such a strange framing!"
Mr Sachs then neatly summarised the reasoning behind his frustration by saying:
"I believe the framing of this story - of 'how can the US trust China?' - is bizarre.
"I think that the Chinese and the US should sit down for serious talks, and then they can forge a pathway - as they did in 2015 with the Paris Climate Agreement!"
It remains to be seen whether the self-assured and forthright UN Advisor will be invited back on to the BBC to take part in any future interviews.
(Written by Tom D. Rogers, edited by Michael O'Sullivan)