Get lost, Chris Moyles

His cherished salary is just what is wrong with the BBC

For years, since I was exposed to BBC Radio 1 by cooler fellow students, I have thought that Chris Moyles is exactly the sort of supposed "talent" that the misguided, extravagant and bloated BBC is so wrong to bankroll. His entirely forgettable, amoral ramblings are not just pointless but mean that there is so much less music on the station when he is in behind the microphone. He is the wannabe trendy BBC at its worst, and I prefer "More Music, Less Talk" Magic FM.

As I put to Mark Thompson in a recent interview, single mothers on council estates, say, find it quite hard to pay the license fee, and it needs to be carefully spent. Thompson argued that if you want the best, you need to pay for the best.

From the interview:

Asked how [spending] can be justified to, say, a single mother on a council estate struggling to pay the bills, Thompson pauses and then says: "That is true and important. The BBC is owned and paid for by the British public, many of whom are living on small incomes.

"The licence fee is a significant expense, and it is very important that every penny of it is spent wisely. At the same time, you know, most people outside the UK and probably most people inside the UK want the BBC to be the world's greatest and best broadcaster. It costs us billions of pounds to be that."

So, is "every penny" of Chris Moyles's salary "spent wisely"? It's certainly a lot of pennies, as he is said to be paid some £600,000 per year. No wonder he is so put out by a computer problem meaning he temporarily missed out on two months' salary: £100,000 is what the average person around five years to make.

Here are a couple of the nicer things he said in a characteristically foul-mouthed tirade on his "show":

I am very, very angry, I can't tell you how furious I am. I haven't been paid since the end of July and no one cares about it. No one is bothered.

...It is a two-way street and what annoys me is that I mentioned it to people this week. Fix it.

Moyles has since said he is "bemused" that the rant has caused a row.

And the BBC's response, according to the Mirror:

The BBC said: "It is a computer glitch. His payments are being processed." A Beeb source insisted his salary could even be in his bank before he starts his show today.

Phew. That's a relief. Thank goodness for that.

How about another suggestion: let's correct the "glitch" by making it permanent, so that Moyles -- who once told a caller from Newcastle "You've got three kids from some fuckin'..." -- can stop being funded on the back of harder working and more deserving people than him, and take his "talent" to where it will sink or swim in the private sector.

UPDATE: You can donate to poor Chris Moyles via this Just Giving site.

James Macintyre is political correspondent for the New Statesman.
Drew Angerer/Getty Images
Show Hide image

Donald Trump wants to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency - can he?

"Epa, Epa, Eeeepaaaaa" – Grampa Simpson.

 

There have been countless jokes about US President Donald Trump’s aversion to academic work, with many comparing him to an infant. The Daily Show created a browser extension aptly named “Make Trump Tweets Eight Again” that converts the font of Potus’ tweets to crayon scrawlings. Indeed, it is absurd that – even without the childish font – one particular bill that was introduced within the first month of Trump taking office looked just as puerile. Proposed by Matt Gaetz, a Republican who had been in Congress for barely a month, “H.R. 861” was only one sentence long:

“The Environmental Protection Agency shall terminate on December 31, 2018”.

If this seems like a stunt, that is because Gaetz is unlikely to actually achieve his stated aim. Drafting such a short bill without any co-sponsors – and leaving it to a novice Congressman to present – is hardly the best strategy to ensure a bill will pass. 

Still, Republicans' distrust for environmental protections is well-known - long-running cartoon show The Simpsons even did a send up of the Epa where the agency had its own private army. So what else makes H.R. 861 implausible?

Well, the 10-word-long statement neglects to address the fact that many federal environmental laws assume the existence of or defer to the Epa. In the event that the Epa was abolished, all of these laws – from the 1946 Atomic Energy Act to the 2016 Frank R. Lautenberg Chemical Safety for the 21st Century Act – would need to be amended. Preferably, a way of doing this would be included in the bill itself.

Additionally, for the bill to be accepted in the Senate there would have to be eight Democratic senators who agreed with its premise. This is an awkward demand when not even all Republicans back Trump. The man Trum appointed to the helm of the Epa, Scott Pruitt, is particularly divisive because of his long opposition to the agency. Republican Senator Susan Collins of Maine said that she was hostile to the appointment of a man who was “so manifestly opposed to the mission of the agency” that he had sued the Epa 14 times. Polls from 2016 and 2017 suggests that most Americans would be also be opposed to the agency’s termination.

But if Trump is incapable of entirely eliminating the Epa, he has other ways of rendering it futile. In January, Potus banned the Epa and National Park Services from “providing updates on social media or to reporters”, and this Friday, Trump plans to “switch off” the government’s largest citizen-linked data site – the Epa’s Open Data Web Service. This is vital not just for storing and displaying information on climate change, but also as an accessible way of civilians viewing details of local environmental changes – such as chemical spills. Given the administration’s recent announcement of his intention to repeal existing safeguards, such as those to stabilise the climate and protect the environment, defunding this public data tool is possibly an attempt to decrease awareness of Trump’s forthcoming actions.

There was also a recent update to the webpage of the Epa's Office of Science and Technology, which saw all references to “science-based” work removed, in favour of an emphasis on “national economically and technologically achievable standards”. 

Trump’s reshuffle of the Epa's priorities puts the onus on economic activity at the expense of public health and environmental safety. Pruitt, who is also eager to #MakeAmericaGreatAgain, spoke in an interview of his desire to “exit” the 2015 Paris Climate Agreement. He was led to this conclusion because of his belief that the agreement means “contracting our economy to serve and really satisfy Europe, and China, and India”.

 

Rather than outright closure of the Epa, its influence and funding are being leached away. H.R. 861 might be a subtle version of one of Potus’ Twitter taunts – empty and outrageous – but it is by no means the only way to drastically alter the Epa’s landscape. With Pruitt as Epa Administrator, the organisation may become a caricature of itself – as in The Simpsons Movie. Let us hope that the #resistance movements started by “Rogue” Epa and National Parks social media accounts are able to stave off the vultures until there is “Hope” once more.

 

Anjuli R. K. Shere is a 2016/17 Wellcome Scholar and science intern at the New Statesman

0800 7318496