Media Outlets Falsely Reporting Scientific Fraud Should Make Corrections

Ideologically motivated and often well-funded operatives were quick to broadcast the hacked East Anglia emails in November as ‘the biggest scandal of the century.’  Thanks to a UK parliamentary investigation, and an earlier Penn State investigation, we are reminded that the emails revealed no such scandal. 

We can expect that the industry-funded think tanks would go all out to spread any story that fits into their narrative of denying climate science.  More alarming are the reporters that swallowed the bait and reported on the manufactured scandal in a fake debate.

We should be expecting apologies and corrections from these reporters for taking the hints of ‘scandal’ and ‘fraud’ and reporting on them as fact:

  • Bret Stephen in the WSJ hinted that global warming scientists were “closet Stalinists”? (The seems to have been removed, but did he apologise for it?) 12/8/2009
  • Andrew Bolt in the Melbourne Herald Sun: “Climategate: Warmist conspiracy exposed?” 11/20/2009
  • James Dellingpole in the Telegraph: “The Final Nail in the Coffin of Anthropogenic Global Warming” 11/20/2009
  • Leo Hickman and James Randerson in The Guardian: “Files stolen.  Evidence of collusion among scientists”
  • Lauren Morello writing for Climatewire and picked up in the NYTimes: “Stolen E-Mails Sharpen a Brawl Between Climate Scientists and Skeptics” 11/24/2009
  • The Freakonomics blog on the NYTimes: “Phil Jones, the scientist at the center of the Climategate  scandal, answers questions from the BBC.” 2/18/2010
  • Fred Guteri in Newsweek: “Climate scientists who play fast and loose with the facts are imperiling not just their profession but the planet.” 2/19/2010

Even though it generates lots of web-views, taking quotes out of context from illegally obtained information and then implying global implications is irresponsible.  Calmly investigating the claims, as the UK House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has done, and finding the science sound is to be applauded.

The imputation of fraud was so powerful that environmental reporters who should have known better were caught up in it.

  • Andy Revkin in the NYTimes says “Hacked E-Mail Is New Fodder for Climate Dispute” even though he knows the ‘climate dispute’ only exists as part of the big-oil PR campaign. 
  • George Monbiot was correctly advocating for a louder and more aggressive response on the part of scientists to affirm the established understanding of global warming during the scandal.  But he was also calling for Phil Jones resignation and expressing dismay over the practices of the research unit. 

Legitimate news organizations have standards of accuracy to uphold and should correct the record.  Fossil-fuel industry funded organizations don’t, so we’re not holding our breath waiting for the paid deniers to retract their statements and report on the scientific consensus:

  • CEI’s Chris Horner salivated over the supposed ‘blue dress moment’ of the stolen emails, even writing on thanksgiving how thankful he was for the hackers ‘exposing’ the nefarious plot to solve global warming.  Surely his thanksgiving memories must taste a bit sour as he  find out how conclusive the science on climate change is.
  • Perhaps the oh-so-royal Lord Monckton will apologize for stating so bluntly in an op-ed “They are criminals” referring to the climate scientists who were victims of the email theft.
  • Senator James Inhofe will need his imaginary crowbar to pull out the imaginary nails in the coffin.  He wrote in a Wall Street Journal Op-ed that “Ninety-five percent of the nails were in the coffin prior to this week. Now they are all in.”
  • Myron Ebell of CEI wrote on Pajamas Media that “It is clear that the tip-top scientists implicated in the burgeoning Climategate scandal have no honor, but it is also becoming apparent that they have no sense of shame either.”
  • Nick Lorris of the Heritage Foundation desperately wishes it was true that the “Global warming debate heats up” on the Heritage blog after the scandal.
  • Pat Michaels of the CATO institute glowed every time he was reminded that some climate scientists joked about beating him up.  See his big smile as he’s given a megaphone on Fox News (video here).

No, instead of retracting their statements, the Competitive Enterprise Institute is trying to build another fake-scandal on the imaginary foundations of the first.

For the past two months CEI has repeatedly tried to ‘break’ the story that NASA data they obtained through a FOIA request is just as damning and scandalous.  They obtained the files on Dec 31st of 2009 and since have made three attempts to create a media story.  The third one has picked up a little steam, finally getting into Fox News with the headline “NASA Data Worse Than Climategate Data, Space Agency Admits”.  It’s ironic that they would pin their story on the East Anglia data that was thoroughly exonerated today by the UK Parliament’s report. 

Lastly, some outlets today chose to highlight the problems in the report, which finds fault with how the University of East Anglia handled the FOIA requests, and recommends solutions. See headlines in the New Scientist “Climategate Inquiry Points Finger at University,” Financial Times “Phil Jones, but not Climate Science Practices Exonerated” and the Mail Online “Climategate University Condemned for Unacceptable Culture of Secrecy.”