BBC4's "Meet the Skeptics"

Lord Monckton is rather upset with the producers of this show, so much that he filed a legal action for a right of reply according to Bishop Hill.

I was interviewed (captured really, they flagged me down in the conference hall foyer with no notice) by this production group at the Heartland conference last year in Chicago, giving well over an hour’s worth of an interview in which they asked the same question several times in different ways, hoping to get the answer they wanted. This is an old news interviewing trick to get that golden sound bite. I knew what they were doing, and kept giving the answers my way.

Then, they showed me the contract they wanted me to sign (no mention at the beginning before the interview) and I spent several minutes reading it, finally deciding that the contract basically amounted to me giving them all rights to my image, words, and opinion, with specific rights to edit them together in “any way they saw fit”. Yes, as I recall, that was exactly the way it was worded in the contract, and basically gave them a license to create their own alternate “Watts interview” reality as they desired. My years in television news have shown me how editing can be brutally unfair in the hands of somebody skilled, and I basically told them to “stuff it” and refused to sign the contract. They spent the next two weeks via email and phone trying to come up with contract variations to get me to sign and I still refused. The entire affair was rushed and unprofessional in my experience.

The “repeated questioning of the same topic” interview technique of these blokes was a tipoff for me that the interview was a setup. I wanted no part of it and refused to allow them legal rights over me by not signing the contract. After watching the trailer below, I’m glad I stood my ground.

Here’s the BBC video and intro text for the program (note: the BBC does not allow people outside of Britain to watch the video; some sort of cranial-rectal problem I’m told, a proxy server in the UK is needed to view it if you live elsewhere):

Filmmaker Rupert Murray takes us on a journey into the heart of climate scepticism to examine the key arguments against man-made global warming and to try to understand the people who are making them.

Do they have the evidence that we are heating up the atmosphere or are they taking a grave risk with our future by dabbling in highly complicated science they don’t fully understand? Where does the truth lie and how are we, the people, supposed to decide?

The film features Britain’s pre-eminent sceptic Lord Christopher Monckton as he tours the world broadcasting his message to the public and politicians alike. Can he convince them and Murray that there is nothing to worry about?

This is the trailer, which everyone can view:

h/t to Bishop Hill

UPDATE: James Delingpole of the Telegraph tells of his experience with this outfit:

Nine months ago, when I was at the Heartland conference in Chicago, I was approached by a  louche, affable, dark-haired, public school charmer called Rupert Murray. With his friend Callum he was making a documentary about climate sceptics for the BBC and wondered if I’d like to take part.

“The BBC? Not bloody likely. You’ve come to stitch us up, haven’t you?” I said.

“Not at all,” said Murray. “Look, there’s something you need to realise. I’m an independent filmmaker, I have no big budget for this, so I’m dependent on my work being original and interesting. The very last thing the BBC wants to commission is another hatchet job on sceptics. How boring and predictable would that be?”

Very true, I thought. It really is about time the BBC examined the issue from the other side. They are a public service broadcaster, after all, not a green investment fund. (Ho ho).

Unfortunately, the ending Delingpole paints is worse that my own, be sure to read his take on it.

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This actually makes the Horizon program look impartial restrained and balanced….
They went after James Delingpole as well… see his thoughts on how it was done.
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/jamesdelingpole/100074116/meet-the-sceptics-another-bbc-stitch-up/
Delingpole:
“Let me tell you the story so far:
Nine months ago, when I was at the Heartland conference in Chicago, I was approached by a louche, affable, dark-haired, public school charmer called Rupert Murray. With his friend Callum he was making a documentary about climate sceptics for the BBC and wondered if I’d like to take part.
“The BBC? Not bloody likely. You’ve come to stitch us up, haven’t you?” I said.
“Not at all,” said Murray. “Look, there’s something you need to realise. I’m an independent filmmaker, I have no big budget for this, so I’m dependent on my work being original and interesting. The very last thing the BBC wants to commission is another hatchet job on sceptics. How boring and predictable would that be?”
Very true, I thought. It really is about time the BBC examined the issue from the other side. They are a public service broadcaster, after all, not a green investment fund. (Ho ho).
Over the next few months I came to like and trust Murray. He was there filming Lord Lawson, Lord Monckton, Lord Leach and me when we debated at the Oxford Union. And he was there to capture our joy and surprise when we won – and to hang out drinking with us, afterwards, like he was our mate. By this stage, we’d all come to accept that Murray was genuinely interested in presenting our case sympathetically. In fact, I must admit, I was really looking forward to seeing the finished product. “God this is going to be fantastic!” I thought. “At long bloody last, the BBC is going to do the right thing – and at feature length too.”
read the rest; will anybody ever trust the BBC again?
REPLY: Thanks, I’ve added this to the body of the story – Anthony

The Leni Riefenstahl, Triumph of the Will homage was adorable. Pretty much put paid to any credibility this dolt might have had.

I almost sprayed coffee all over my computer when that BBC guy said he put aside his bias. This was a pretty clear slander piece.
It portrays Skeptics as old, gun toting, motorcycle riding, nazi’s. It is truly a stunning piece of propaganda. The only people that are shown as rational are warmists.
I am glad that you didn’t sign the paper. Smart move on your part. I will try to remember that lesson in the future.
John Kehr

William Gray

This is more balanced.

What a hit piece this is. It basically portrays all skeptics as mindless, gun toting, motorcycle riding Nazi’s. They jumped all over Godwin’s law in this one.
I am glad you didn’t sign this one. Smart move that I hope more people can learn from.

Dr A Burns

Trenberth must be joking when he says “They tell lies” . It’s not hard to find plenty of his blatant lies, such as claiming his mate Phil Jones didn’t say “there’s been no significant warming for the past 15 years” … of course Phil did say that, on BBC.

Policyguy

Lord Monckton rules. This trailer is sanctimonious breast beating at its worst.
Rupert Murray apparently feels the need to use most every iconic reference he can concoct to make skeptics look like crazed, gun loving, boozing, motorcycle gangers, senile, gay, conservative biggots. I suppose someone could create an equally offensive look at alarmists, but its not worth it. What a pathetic trailer, so probably Nobel worthy.

UK Sceptic

BBC – time to say goodbye to the money you forcefully extract from my pocket by means of legal menaces.

Oxonpool

You were right not to get sucked into this. The BBC did its usual hatchet job, spinning the story of noble climate scientists against ignorant sceptics.

Ben

There is obviously an organised campaign going on by the BBC and other media agencies – I think sceptics are going to need to communicate with one another as much as possible when approached by these people to ensure that we’re all aware of the latest stitch up being planned. Luckily we have Wattsupwiththat to help.

Rhodrich

I wouldn’t worry too much about this programme. BBC4 is one of those ‘special interest’ channels that very few people watch. If they’d really wanted to give this some exposure, they would have put it on BBC1 or BBC2.

Mycroft

Watched and thought Lord M did not come across too well,but as Anthony has indicated, editing in a skilled way can make an angel seem a devil.
Clearly the out come was already pre determined and lots of questions and facts not even looked into,and soon as i saw Trenberth i knew what sort of prgramme it was meant to be,title was misleading “meet the sckeptics” only saw two Lord M and Prof Lindzen.??warminista’s and BBC getting desperate two programmes on climate change in two weeks, both dissing the sceptics side of the argument.
On the bright side good to see the public in USA and Australia not swallowing the AGW BS story,all we need is balanced programme maker and we could get the message across a lot better and show the facts data fudging and adjustments etc.

KenB

Put down by ridicule, suggestion, association and odious editing. Probably the lowest form of TV journalism. Huge money spent on a reporter, to push his networks agenda and what for? really, a nothing result, unless you have a snide agenda in mind. Just about as bad as the Australian female Journalist who was flown all the way to the Antartica, to stand behind “scientists” on the snow, ignore, then brush aside those scientists carefully worded replies to her own pre ordained viewpoint promoting CAGW. The ABC must really fear the truth and consequent loss to their reputation, to trot out that infantile rot.

KenB

Left out BBC alongside the ABC – one is as bad as the other!!

Paul Williams

What do you expect? The BBC have a pension scheme to protect.
Like Peter Sissons says, the BBC do what the Guardian tells them to.

AleaJactaEst

So we’re all redneck oil fixated gun toting nazi-loving extremists.
We’re still right about CO2’s effect on the planet.
What did you expect from the BBC? Balanced journalism?

Michael

Nice to see Alex Jones in the trailer. Some people don’t like his style and get a brain fart when they see or hear his name. Most people have no clue who he is. However, his work on credible documentation and support from many credible personalities is helping him work his way out of the MSM closet, Lord Monckton included. Last week I saw Brad Meltzer’s Decoded Season Finale: Secret Societies, on the History Channel. Brad and his team, for the first time in history, exposed The Bohemian Grove secret society on cable TV.
Check the entire 45 minute episode if you like on the History Channel website.
http://www.history.com/shows/brad-meltzers-decoded/videos/playlists/full-episodes#brad-meltzers-decoded-secret-societies

John Lish

Dr A Burns,
“there’s been no significant warming for the past 15 years” was part of Phil Jones’ testimony to a UK Parliament select committee. You’ll find it in Hansard.

Dave (UK)

Rhodrich says:
February 1, 2011 at 12:34 am

If they’d really wanted to give this some exposure, they would have put it on BBC1 or BBC2.

When the BBC sees the coverage in blogs like this, and responses by James Delingpole et al, they will show it on BBC2 in order to widen their audience for this type of stitch-up.
Not only was the programme a mess, having no logical structure (rather like the woolly thinking of the typical warmist), it attempted to portray sceptics as being among the following types: pensioner, poofter, biker, eccentric, neo-nazi, or coal miner. Yet again, the warmists in the media are resorting to name-calling rather than concentrating on the science.
As for the science, where was Bob Carter? He is a palaeoclimatologist based in Queensland. If anyone knows anything about the climate, he does. We can only guess that he was not interviewed because the Murray would not have been able to twist anything Carter would say, or that Carter would make it clear that, in fact, Murray is the fool.

Stacey

Anthony
You were quite right not to sign. The producer/interviewer Murray carried out a complete hatchet job on Monckton.
The programme in Australia, kept referring to the old age of the audience with long shots of a golf course.
The majority of the scientists interviewed were the usual darlings,Trenberth, Santer etc.
The programme concentrated on Monckton, I recall, Prof Lindzen had a very small part compared to the alarmists.
The usual shots of floods etc, the voice over from Murray how he likes motorbikes and wanted to believe the skeptics but couldn’t because the scientists had proved their case, we must all change our life style.
Funny really, lots of people sound bited in Oz an the USA and of course the extremist bits broadcast. It is the British Broadcasting Corporation but no British People interviewed on the streets?
Two complaints made about bias,ageism and alarmism, but nothing will change.
Sorry wish this could have been more analytical but typing on a phone.

Ian E

As we who know the BBC say, ‘Those who sup with the devil should use a long spoon’!

Robinson

UK Sceptic: BBC – time to say goodbye to the money you forcefully extract from my pocket by means of legal menaces.
How do you propose to do that without throwing out your television set?

bertief

I didn’t watch this, and I didn’t watch the Horizon programme either.
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that the BBC (or GBC, Greenpeace Broadcasting Corporation) is no more than a propaganda channel these days. It has become a habit of mine to never watch any of their output that has the misnomer ‘science’ in the title or description and to immediately change channels the moment they mention ‘science’ because I know that within milliseconds it will be another AGW diatribe.
In this way I have managed to avoid hating my television.

Tony

The BBC have gone too far. This programe is SO bad that you can see the deployment complete set of journalistic techniques that constitute and motivate the MSM.
And as AGW is sustained by the use of just such techniques, we can see that the failure of AGW is also the failure of the MSM.
So, it ain’t just about the science any more; the stakes are much higher.

Scottish Sceptic

I think this will all backfire for the BBC.
The British don’t take kindly to deceitful attacks on individuals. The days when the BBC could just dismiss Lord Monckton as a “Thatcherite” have gone, it’s not the Lords fault that they still exist as they are.
All this will do is to highlight Lord Monckton in the UK public’s mind and trigger a series of high profile interviews on major TV shows (excluding any run by the BBC) leaving a very sour taste in the mouth of the BBC viewers who are fed up to the back teeth of BBC propaganda on global warming.

I am an video editor (some, perhaps would even say skilled) with 25 years experience of editing tv programmes and documentaries. The first thing to remember is that all documentaries are fiction. They tell a story, predetermined by the producer. ‘Meet the Skeptics’ was a great example of clumsy, heavy handed storytelling. Nothing more. The most telling techniques include the way Monckton was seldom given more than 10 seconds to say anything, with cutaways covering obvious edits in his talking in order to make it seem like he is saying something he probably isn’t. It’s easy. I do it everyday, though I tend to do it to enhance understanding not to misrepresent. On the other hand, Monckton’s detractors were given free reign to speak with 30, 40, 45 seconds of screen time to expound their ideas and make their point.
The part where Monckton was caught (supposedly) looking forlorn as he read the (apparently) devastating report about his address to Congress was pure pathos, made all the more emotional by the sad piano music and then the cut to him sitting alone, in the distance, looking out onto the loch, no doubt contemplating the obvious and terrible mistakes he’d made. Except we didn’t learn what those mistakes were other than a rather lame mis-attribution which he owned up to.
Murray had a chance here to actually present the sceptics’ case, however much he disagreed with it. Instead he chose to malign and mis-represent through juxtaposition (witness the homophobe and gun-wielding bigots), through use of music (the mournful piano and the buffoonery of Gilbert & Sullivan telling us what to feel), through language (such as the repeated use if the phrase ‘what he thought was true’ and it’s variations and naturally, through selective editing,
Given the exact same material I could edit a programme that would tell a totally different story. Never be told that a documentary is truth.

Larry in Texas

I remember when a former client of mine was interviewed by BBC World News Service for some environmental piece. The person who interviewed her was only interested in hearing answers he wanted to hear, and wasn’t too interested in detailed answers about the questions he was asking; questions that required, in my client’s mind, more serious answers than just the usual political slogan-type of answers they seemed to be angling for.
The worst part about BBC is that they don’t even try to be subtle about it. Their agenda is clear: propaganda for the masses. Masses whom they assume to be ignorant enough to con. They are nothing but pond scum, in my view.

Scottish Sceptic

Rhodrich says: February 1, 2011 at 12:34 am
I wouldn’t worry too much about this programme. BBC4 is one of those ‘special interest’ channels that very few people watch. If they’d really wanted to give this some exposure, they would have put it on BBC1 or BBC2.
Rhodrick, then let’s push for it to be on BBC1 or BBC2!! Because the higher the profile for this program, the higher the profile for Lord monckton and so the higher the profile he will have to tour the breakfast shows and late night tv and tell the truth.
At the very least, we should all write in and suggest him for question time, any questions, write to the Today program and insist that he is given an opportunity to make his case.
Sky, ITV will love a bit of BBC bashing … and Monckton is nothing but a colourful character and what do they care if he is pro or anti?

Kev-in-UK

The BBC? – a bunch of politically controlled anal retentives!
Enough said!
I wonder if they will report on Lisbons ‘reconciliation’ at all? – probably not, unless they do a hatchet job on the attending skeptics?

Thanks to the wonderful BBC4 program I now know that most (all?) the contributers here are lying, cheating, miscreants who are going to wreck my future because they have absolutely no science to back their positions. And thus the risk of doing nothing while we still have time is simply far too great not to take action now to save the planet from certain doom.
I am ashamed of the lot of you. Mend your ways, repent immediately and save the planet!
Of course I trust the BBC; it is the British Broadcasting Corporation after all, jolly what and toodle pip.
(OK, OK, so I lied: it was as balanced as a one-legged stool.)

Andrew

To the Moncktons and Delingpoles of the world, hang in there guys and take the criticisms without blinking. You guys have a high public profile, and will attract a lot of critics who will try to discredit you. As the public now ‘owns you’ I think you need to take a leaf out of the politicians text book, and ride the blows without responding in kind. Stick to message, dont become paranoid or defensive, and learn from the experience. The truth will out. Think of the exposes of Clinton, Bush and Blair; these guys get up the next day and stare down the camera without blushing.
By the way, Anthony, thanks for a great website. Went to your talk in Hobart Tasmania last year. Fantastic.
Cheers
Andrew

John Trigge

I must run out and get:
– a gun
– a motorbike
– some crack
– a few teeth removed
– a Nazi uniform
– a large 4WD
– a private jet
– ?????

John Marshall

This is the BBC’s attempt to comply with the instruction to give more air time to the sceptic view of Climate change. Failed!
The BBC has no control on who views their programs. They beam to satellite so all is available with a Sky box. ie. most of Europe can receive Sky broadcasts. This may be difficult in the US though but it is available on the internet through-
http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer
This is the page that will play old programs. Look up BBCFour and a list will appear.There may be some filtering of out of UK sites but I doubt it. My daughter in Spain can access this site without any problem.
Best of luck Anthony.

RichieP

“Rhodrich says:
February 1, 2011 at 12:34 am
I wouldn’t worry too much about this programme. BBC4 is one of those ‘special interest’ channels that very few people watch. If they’d really wanted to give this some exposure, they would have put it on BBC1 or BBC2.”
It’ll be run on BBC2 in fairly short order. That”s the normal pattern for BBC4 programmes.

Grimwig

It has been obvious to me for some time that the BBC has its own, clear, political agenda. On television, the pictures can be edited to produce the desired message. On live radio, anyone being interviewed who goes “off message” is simply shouted down by aggressive interviewers.
Impartial it is not! Biased it certainly is!
Meet the Skeptics was not only badly made and amateurish, it also completely failed to look at some of the main problems that thinking skeptics have with the data and conclusions drawn from it.

Christopher Hanley

I’m sorry to say that this sounds like a lamentable ‘own goal’ by the climate rationalists involved who really should know better.
Don’t sign their contracts, have them sign your contract.

According to the PA report, this program was produced by Jamie Oliver’s production company:
http://www.freshone.tv/about.php
OH dear. That’s the last Jamie Oliver book I’ll ever buy.

I wonder if Jamie Oliver believes “Meet the Skeptics” met with his claimed objectives:

“at the heart of our programmes will always be honesty, intelligence and, wherever possible, fun.”

At least it showed the real agenda at the end.
The end of democracy and a move to fascism. He was quite clear that this is what we should accept; Based on the concept that the potential for doing nothing for any possible disaster (and it could be anything you wanted to make up), is too much of a risk to take. Even if those actions plundged the world in to a fascist hell, with billions suffering or even dying because of those actions.

old44

Just a tip, when being interviewed, change your tie or jacket every 10 minutes or have a clock in shot behind you. Keep the bastards honest.

John Page

To take one small but interesting example from this juvenile film, they showed Monckton reciting elements from the periodic table to the tune of “I am the very model of a modern major-general” and then proceeded to play the original in the background, implying this suggested Monckton was a dilettante.
Actually what he was doing was reciting the parody by Tom Lehrer.
Question: were the narrator and all the filmmakers so ignorant that they did not know of the Lehrer original? Or were they deliberately misrepresenting what Monckton was doing? Answer: almost certainly the latter.
There was also juvenile stress on members of Monckton’s audience being “elderly”. Apparently they seek refuge from the knowledge that their generation’s life’s work has been in vain and will have to be undone. This was stated as a fact. (So younger people all accept the Green agenda? Tell that to the Republicans.)
The climategate emails had been “hacked”. No reference to the possibility that they had been leaked. Academics allowed to claim that critics of AGW should be ignored unless they published peer reviewed articles, with no reference to the systematic blocking revealed in the climategate emails.
We had an Australian academic using the argument from ignorance, saying we couldn’t think what else it could be other than CO2. And we were treated to an Oregon schoolteacher preaching the precautionary principle on a whiteboard without once mentioning costs.
And the topic of “forcing” was introduced as if it was new to the filmmaker, with him expressing astonishment that the whole argument came down to this. Which of course it doesn’t.
The floods in Pakistan, China etc were signs of “climate change”. And look at Australia, the film said, look what a dustbowl it is. Er ….
Such shoddiness would have disgraced an amateur. Yet the BBC paid (our) good money for it.

This Granger is a scoundrel. I hope he gets convicted for slander. It would be an insult to let such calculated mean and deceptive behaviour stay unpunished. Louche, indeed, Delingpole is too kind – Granger’s face is telling.
I’d like to see a story about what the responses to Delingpole, Booker, Guardian (Komment Macht Frei), Bishop Hill, here, and so on, have to tell. Delingpole already has nearly 1000 responses with loadsa thumbs up. Must be a record. Oh yes, and I wonder about the involvement of Caroline Lucas and others in trying to organize a concerted hate campaign.
Science, Nurse is not. Honesty or trustworthiness, Granger is not. Impartiality or openness, BBC is not.

Comments to Delingpole have tipped 1000 in the time it took to write my comment above.

Old England

Carefully contrived propaganda . The BBC has revealed through this and the Horizon programme last week that it has a very clear political agenda.
Time for more complaints to Ofcom and BBC.
Here is the link to the programme on BBC Iplayer
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b006mfx6

Jimmy Haigh

Robinson says:
February 1, 2011 at 1:06 am
UK Sceptic: BBC – time to say goodbye to the money you forcefully
extract from my pocket by means of legal menaces.
“How do you propose to do that without throwing out your television set?”
There is an easier way…..

The BBC is no longer ‘British’ it is now the Biased Broadcasting Corporation. It has long been nothing more than the propaganda wing of the Liebor Party and the Fabian Society – of course it was going to do a hatchet job on the skeptics, it’s producers are about as objective of a balanced view on anything as Michael Moore’s “Documentary” on the Twin Towers.
Amazing what you can do with enough footage and soundbites….

Scottish Sceptic

This is absolutely great!
The only outcome of this program is going to be to cause 100,000s of people to google “Lord Monckton” and go and watch his stuff on Youtube.
In short all this program is doing is showing an awful lot of people who have been convinced by Lord Monckton … a view not shared by the self-proclaimed greenie narrating the film, nor the climategate “scientists”.
The British eccentric characters. I particularly love the line where Monckton says something like: “I got the title by having the good fortune to be born to the right person”.
He came over as honest, passionate about the subject and eccentric. Your average joe/sandra public will admire the way he can recite the periodic table. That is something they can understand and something that none of the “scientists” seemed capable of.
It will remind everyone at the end of the summer, how bad the snow was this last winters, how they all felt about climategate and it will show that there are eloquent advocates for the sceptic side that just haven’t had a hearing the BBC.
In short — the BBC have shot themselves and the alarmists in the foot with this one!

RockyRoad

The BBC must be getting really, REALLY worried about their deceit and deception when it comes to their investment portfolio. Nobody’s buying it anymore. Should the earth continue to cool and winters rage unabated a few more years, they’ll have nothing to retire on. How fitting.

Malaga View

Boudu says: February 1, 2011 at 1:21 am
The first thing to remember is that all documentaries are fiction.

Although in this case Aunty Beeb was going for the comedy angle…
The Meet the Climate Sceptics title was chosen to trigger a memory association with the film Meet the Fockers… the audience are thus prepared to laugh at a program that ridicules strange people who should be regarded as real Fockers.

On the drive down, Jack informs Greg that he will be studying the Fockers to make sure that they are a good match for the lineage of the family. When they arrive on the island where the Fockers live, Bernie Focker (Dustin Hoffman) affectionately greets everyone with hugs and kisses. Greg slips away to meet his mother Roz (Barbra Streisand) who is a sex therapist specializing in senior sexuality and circumcision posttrauma.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meet_the_Fockers

It is becoming increasing apparent that Aunty Beeb is following the family traditions and techniques perfected by cuddly Uncle Joe Stalin. The BBC has always been a State funded propaganda machine… historically it worked to build up its creditability (by telling the truth) so that you would believe the Big Lies that they slipped in for the State… unfortunately for the Beeb (and the longer suffering subjects of the UK State) the situation has now completely reversed… their daily schedules are crammed full of Big Lies and nobody notices when they are telling the truth anymore… such is the state of the Main Lame Stream Media.

Brent Hargreaves

May I echo Andrew’s (01:32) words of encouragement to Mockton and Delingpole? They’re a good counterweight to Al Gore’s highly effective propaganda, and they’re the best we’ve got at the moment. They survived the BBC stitch-ups with dignity intact.
Oh, for a charismatic and media-savvy scientist! Someone with Richard Lindzen’s credentials, but with oratory/media training.
Imagine such a hero placing Popperian falsifiability firmly on the agenda, thundering into the microphone: “Are there ANY circumstances in which the Global Warmists would concede defeat? The comman man, with his common sense, DEMANDS an answer! They say the globe is warming. By the tenth anniversary of Climategate they must answer this trillion-dollar question: HOW WARM? They must put up or shut up!”