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ClimateGate II: Handy Guide to spot whitewash journalism – The top 10 excuses for scientists behaving badly

Posted By Joanne Nova On November 30, 2011 @ 12:46 am In Global Warming,Media-matters | Comments Disabled

Sorting real journalists from sock puppets is not too tricky: real investigators tell you what the story is about; PR writers tell you what to think.

Do they “discuss” ClimateGate emails … without quoting the emails?

Who digs for details, and who hides the evidence?


The PR writers for Big-Government were quick to come up with excuses for ClimateGate II. Which is all very well, but it’s blindingly obvious where their own personal prejudices lie if they won’t print the emails that they are supposedly discussing. It’s not so much cherry-picking, but cherry-denial. “Don’t mention the radioactive cherries, but lets discuss how cherry farmers have been victimized, talk about the history of cherry tree farming, and hear their excuses and assertions that the cherries are an essential part of our diets. Don’t mention the Geiger counter. OK?”

The top 10 excuses for PR writers  who pose as “journalists” to ignore ClimateGate emails

This is standard issue damage control for ClimateGate — protect the cheats and liars, attack the whistleblower, and  use excuses and padding-fillers to cover a story without actually giving the public any information on the behavior of scientists who make statements that billions of dollars of public spending is guided by.


1. “The emails are old”

(No one has seen them before, and what makes two-year-old lies acceptable now?).

2. “The timing is suspicious”

(Alarmists release alarming stuff all the time in the lead up to big meetings, but look out, it’s suspicious when a skeptic releases alarming stuff about those scientists at the same time!)

3. “They’re out of context”

(We won’t explain the context, or quote the email, trust us, they just are, OK?)

4. “The emails show a robust scientific debate”

(But that is the whole point isn’t it? We were told the “science was settled”? It is dishonest to discuss uncertainties in private while you tell the public “the debate is over” and call anyone who questions that a “denier”.)

5.“They’ve been investigated”

(Even though the investigations didn’t have these emails, didn’t investigate the science, and were at least in one case, chaired by a windfarm expert, this point is supposed to have credibility?)

6.“They’re hacked” or “stolen”

(After years of investigation there is no evidence they were hacked. They could have been leaked. Police can’t or won’t say. Does this journalist “know” something the police don’t?)

7. “Aren’t the skeptics nasty people?”

(Crikey, imagine reading emails written by paid public servants on the job about their professional work? What victims! Those poor scientists can’t even threaten journal editors, conspire to ignore peer reviewed papers they don’t like, or discuss their ignorance in private… what’s the world coming too?)

8. “This doesn’t change the science”

(Since most of “the science” is merely a consensus of these same experts, whom we are told to respect, then actually it does change “the science” when they are caught cheating.)

9. The emails “mean nothing” according the scientists caught cheating

(The sock puppet earns bonus points if those same scientists also get to slur the whistleblower and skeptics with unsubstantiated implications that “they are funded by fossil fuels”.)

10. The public response is a “yawn”

(And given how few journalists are reporting the actual emails to the public, that’s entirely predictable eh? Circular reasoning strikes again.)

 

Real Journalists don’t try to hide the emails

Some journalists are not apologists for scientists who delete emails, hide results, talk about “the cause”, and try to get critics sacked. Bravo, and kudos to them and the news masts that invite coverage of both sides of the story.

Amos Aikman and Graham Lloyd, The Australian: Scientists’ quest for influence in emails

Graham Lloyd, The Australian: Politics muddies the debate

James Delingpole, The Wall St Journal: Climategate 2.0

Sock Puppet Journalists — Hide the evidence

Who are they sock puppets for? Take your pick: a political philosophy, their personal religion, possibly something more banal?

Richard Black, BBC: Leads the way in creative sock-puppetry , with the definitive whitewash within hours. Chalks up seven of the top ten excuses faster than virtually anyone else.

Associated Press (via The Australian and others): Does unabashed “damage control”. Publishes the responses of the accused without ever quoting the emails themselves. A.P. quotes the University of East Anglia spokesman, quotes Michael Mann, quotes Bob Ward (PR operative for the Grantham Institute). There is no effort to quote the hot-potato emails, to discuss their significance, or to phone up the people who might interpret the results differently from the accused. Associated Press (via CBC news) “‘Desperate climate change deniers’ blamed”.

Andy Revkin, New York Times. I think Revkin sincerely believes he is an investigative journalist, and he “investigates” in a half-hearted way: he links to a few skeptical sites, he asks “climate scientists” to respond to Pielke’s point, and asks the Norwich police how much they’ve spent. But there are no direct quotes of the emails, no phone calls to skeptics or people on the other side of the emails. By writing it all off as though the first emails were already “explained”, he implies that using tricks to hide declines is a reasonable scientific practice. If scientists distort the peer review process, bully and slur critics even as they hide their own debates and uncertainty, that’s apparently all fair too. Thus he is an apologist for corruption of the scientific process. His update relies on the intellectual vacuum of the precautionary principle: “You’re Driving a Bus Full of Kids With a Curve Ahead“.

(No Andy, just because we don’t know the magnitude doesn’t mean we automatically have to spend billions. We don’t know the magnitude of the next pandemic or asteroid hit either. Look up the phrase “cost-benefits”. The magnitude matters: is it 1, 3, or 5 degrees? We have to use the observations, with rigorous scientific process in the search for the best estimate we can make. The guys who lose data, delete emails, act deceptively and behave badly are estimating 3.3C. We can do better.)

Jason Samenow, The Washington Post also won’t quote those emails, and uses at least five of the excuses above. (He scores a point for linking to skeptical sites, though he thinks he’s demonstrating “cherry picking”.)

David Wroe, Ben Cubby at The Sydney Morning Herald:  Both were writing on climate change, Durban, the carbon tax and politics (here, and here) but won’t let the SMH readers know what the lead authors of IPCC reports have been caught admitting in private. There’s a few paragraphs of whitewash-in-passing from Adam Morton. Otherwise it’s almost complete denial from the rest of “team environment”. The SMH can spare column inches to tell us what Desmond Tutu thinks about climate change, but not what Professor Phil Jones thinks about the models (“They’re all wrong”.)

The Age: It’s a carbon-copy of it’s sister, the SMH. Climate-gate was announced in one whitewash story copied from Bloomberg with four of the top excuses, but no quote. There’s the same few paragraphs of whitewash-in-passing  from Adam Morton. But, as with other politically incorrect topics, The Age readers are in the dark. They get no clues as to what lead authors of IPCC reports have been caught admitting in private. If a junior Exxon secretary had said: “We need to get rid of global warming” it would be a headline story repeated in their columns for decades.

ABC (US news) Ned Potter: Not a single quote from the emails.

The ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation): I can’t even find any mention of the latest ClimateGate release on the abc.net.au site. Can anyone else? They have a dedicated “science” team, but like the SMH they seem to be in denial that their thought leaders could have broken the law, lost key data, lied about the “certainty” and the reliability of the models — or else, and it’s worse, the journalists know the scientists are behaving badly, but still think “the science is right”, they know best, and the stupid public need to be shielded from “confusing” information.

ABC News thinks Australians are better served by knowing the details of Tim Flannery’s tour than knowing what the IPCC lead authors have been caught saying, even though the men at the forefront of the supposed “science” disagree entirely with the Flannery-PR when they write emails to each other.

Australians may rightfully wonder why they pay a billion a year in taxes for this blatant censorship.

 

Australian Climate Madness summed the media response up so much faster than I have. ;-)

Send in more examples of sock-puppet journalists. They need to be named and shamed, and real journalists rewarded.

 

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