In my post on the decision by Justice Burton to allow the showing of An Inconvenient Truth because it was “broadly accurate” I listed some of the reporters who wrongly claimed that the judge decided that AIT had nine errors. Mary Jordan’s story was particularly bad. Most of the reporters eventually got around to telling their readers that the judge found AIT “broadly accurate”, but Jordan only mentioned the negative parts of the decision. And Bob Somerby has more:
“Al Gore’s Film Has 9 Errors, British Judge Rules in Suit.” That’s the headline on page one, promoting this news report, filed from London by Mary Jordan. How utterly silly — how stupid — is this front-page promotion? Let’s put it this way: According to Nexis, even the kooky-con Washington Times has barely bothered with the trivial nonsense the Post promotes on its front page today. Yesterday, Greg Pierce gave it five short paragraphs in his daily “Inside Politics” column –and no, it wasn’t even his lead item. But when a possibly daft British judge settled a silly school board complaint, the Post rattled Jordan out of her bed, then pimped her story on page one. By the way, when you read Jordan’s report, you will perhaps note two things. She doesn’t make the slightest attempt to say of the judge is right or wrong about the nine “errors” he thinks he has found. More specifically, you’ll note that she hasn’t asked any actual scientist to comment on the things the judge said.
Somerby gives lots more examples of the WaPo’s absurdly slanted coverage of Gore, including this:
2) In the increasingly daft Outlook section, the Post published a dotty opinion piece complaining about the book’s lack of foot-notes. Unfortunately, the book has 20 pages of end-notes. The citation the Post’s writer desperately sought was clearly marked there.
6) In Book World, Alan Ehrenhalt formally reviewed Gore’s book –and started with a comic-book complaint: “Al Gore possesses a skill that no other American politician can match –or would want to. He has a consistent ability to express fundamentally reasonable sentiments –often important ones –in ways that annoy the maximum possible number of people.” As of this morning, Gore has annoyed so many people that his film has won an Oscar –and he holds the Nobel Peace Prize too.
The next day the WaPo’s story about Gore winning the Nobel has this:
The award came two days after a British judge ruled that, while Gore’s documentary makes a strong case that human activity has contributed to global warming and that there is a sense of urgency to deal with it, the movie contained nine factual errors not supported by scientific consensus.
And in another story the WaPo says:
The judge in that case ruled this week that while the basic premise of the film was correct, Gore had made nine errors of scientific fact.
And in yet another story we get:
A judge in London this week ruled that British teachers who show the film must alert students that it contains nine “errors” — such as Gore’s claim that residents of low-lying atolls in the Pacific have been evacuated as a result of rising sea levels.
It seems as if there is now a rule at the WaPo that any story that mentions An Inconvenient Truth must repeat the falsehood that a judge found nine errors in the movie.
But don’t worry, Michael Dobbs, the Wapo’s FactChecker is on the case! Surely he’ll correct the fact that his paper keeps getting wrong?
I’m afraid not. Kate Sheppard:
So I’ve generally been into the idea behind the Fact Checker column over at the Washington Post. Until today, when they decided to take Al Gore’s winning the Nobel Prize as an opportunity to do a “fact check” on An Inconvenient Truth, and … not actually check any facts. Instead, they publish portions of a court decision in the U.K. where a judge decided that there were portions of the movie that exaggerated reality. Note: This is a legal decision, not a comprehensive scientific study; the Post actually does no fact-checking; there is no actual science involved here; and the conclusion they reach is that “There are good arguments on either side.”
Then for more information, they point you to the official An Inconvenient Truth site, the website of the widely debunked counter film The Great Global Warming Swindle (which has even been disavowed by one of the main scientists featured in it), a broadly criticized counter article from the New York Times, and a site supporting the guy who brought the lawsuit to court. If you’re counting, that’s three sites that aim to take down the movie and … the movie’s own site. Which equals zero independent scientific evaluation. Thanks, Washington Post, for this significant contribution to the conversation.
And, as well as not actually bothering to do any fact checking, Dobbs repeats the false claim that the judge said that there were nine significant errors.
Now, unlike the other stories, the Dobbs piece allowed comments, and annoyed readers eviscerated him for his obvious bias and failure to do any fact checking at all, prompting him to add this pathetic update:
The Fact Checker has not taken sides in this debate.
Hence the links to criticism of AIT, but not to any rebuttal.
We also made clear above that Judge Burton agreed that Gore’s movie is “broadly accurate.”
But the original WaPo story did not mention that. Will Dobbs concede that it was biased?
We welcome an informed discussion on the specific points raised by the judge, most of which have gone unaddressed in the hundreds of comments we have so far received.
Here is what Martin Parry, co-chair of IPCC, which shared the Nobel prize with Gore, had to say in an online discussion today hosted by the Post:
Purcellville, Va.: How do you respond to accusations that Mr. Gore’s book is inaccurate and overblown?
Martin Parry: I have just been watch Gore’s film again; It is broadly correct. There are some factual errors but these are few and do not affect the main argument.
“Some factual errors [that] do not affect the main argument.” Pretty much the same conclusion the judge reached.
But not what the WaPo reported as his conclusion again and again. And Dobbs still hasn’t bothered to fact check the judge’s points. What the hell kind of fact checker is he?