Correction: My post a few days ago implied implied that the Washington Post celebrated Gore’s Nobel by publishing four items repeating the falsehood that a judge found nine errors in the movie. This was wrong. I missed their editorial on the Nobel Prize where they also took a swipe at Gore:
His movie, “An Inconvenient Truth,” about the effects of climate change, was a box-office hit and an Oscar winner. That achievement is impressive and important, notwithstanding factual misstatements and exaggerations such as the “nine significant errors” in the film cited by a British judge Wednesday.
No, the judge did not rule that there were “nine significant errors” in the film. The editorial does not mention that the judge decided that it was “broadly accurate”. Nor does it mention all the climate scientists who endorsed the accuracy of the movie.
So five times in one day the Post published this falsehood. There seems to be a compulsive need by Post journalists to put balance positive stories about Gore by including negative factoids. Fortunately, the Washington Post has a media reporter, one Howard Kurtz, and he was on the case on CNN’s Reliable Sources:
KURTZ: OK. (INAUDIBLE). Amanda Carpenter, in all of the coverage about Gore and winning this prize and global warming and his movie “An Inconvenient Truth,” it has all been really, really positive. I’ve heard very little discussion, for example, of a British judge finding this week that there were nine factual errors in “An Inconvenient Truth” in a lawsuit in that country. What do you make of the coverage?
Ahh, according to Kurtz the problem was that the media didn’t repeat this falsehood often enough. The five times the Post mentioned it was insufficient. And notice that he asked the question of Amanda Carpenter of townhall.com, where Gore is considered to be the anti-Christ.
AMANDA CARPENTER, TOWNHALL.COM: Well, I’m not sure if we’re reading all the same things as each other. I mean, in conservative circles, certainly people are very eager to point out the problems with the movie. They say that this British judge that found nine inaccuracies in it, this is a film that is riddled with errors that has essentially won the Nobel Peace Prize. And I think there is a legitimate question, does this invalidate the integrity of that prize?
Yes, even Carpenter couldn’t agree with him on this one. Though maybe Rush Limbaugh mentioned it less often than the Post.
KURTZ: And to what extent are those legitimate questions in your view being reflected in the coverage of Al Gore in the last two days?
Kurtz tries again to get her to say that the media is biased towards Gore…
CARPENTER: Not enough. The Washington Post did a pretty good fact check on this online which I thought was great. This has been bubbling the blogs a lot. You know, when we see the other things, NASA having to revise climate change data that was caught by a Canadian blogger a few months ago. So this stuff is bubbling there. I wish it got more coverage in the mainstream media. You know, there were people that did not get the prize. The Polish woman that saved 2,500 children from the Holocaust got bumped for this for essentially a piece of film.
That would be the fact check that didn’t check any facts. Now that he has got Carpenter to agree that the media is biased towards Gore, Kurtz moves onto the next panellist:
KURTZ: Mark Halperin, just a quick question on this because I might need to move on, is there any guilt among some journalists about the way they kind of made fun of Al Gore in 2000, the sighing and all of that, now kind of giving him his moment in the sun?
Some journalists? I guess Kurtz doesn’t want to admit that he was one of them:
HALPERIN: I think there is no question that people feel bad about what happened in 2000 to some extent. And I think also you look at what a lot of journalists feel about the Bush administration and they say, you know, maybe the wrong guy actually got in the White House.
That’s not a view that I’m putting forward, but I think it is a view a lot of journalists have, and I think it’s one that does drive a little bit of this Gore love affair that’s in the press, not just this last week but every time he does anything or wins — gets another award for the mantle.
I see. He got some positive coverage because the press loves him, not because winning a Nobel prize is a genuine achievement. The third member of Kurtz’s panel, by the way, was Jonathan Capehart, member of Washington Post editorial board, who presumably helped write the anti-Gore editorial at the top of this post.
The next day, on his Media Backtalk, Kurtz is asked
New York: Howard: Enjoyed you on “The Daily Show” the other night. Here’s my question: Several news outlets, CNN and ABC among them, while reporting on Al Gore’s receipt of the Nobel Peace Prize, also added “complementary” stories about “inaccuracies” in his film, as well as about how how the award has “divided” public opinion. It seems that that the extreme right-wing of the Republican Party and the environmental know-nothings have got the mainstream media running scared. They can’t run a story about Al Gore and Global Warming without somehow trying to appease these lunatics. Don’t you feel that this is a case not of “balanced reporting” but of trying to avoid attacks from an extremist faction?
Odd, the day before Kurtz said that there was very little discussion and complained that the coverage of Gore had been really, really, positive.
Howard Kurtz: Glad you caught my sit-down with Jon Stewart. I don’t think it’s appeasing lunatics to report that not everyone is cheering the Nobel Prize awarded to Gore. While there is certainly a scientific consensus that global warming exists, a day earlier The Post and other news organizations reported that a British judge had ruled there were nine factual errors in “An Inconvenient Truth.” I congratulate Gore on winning the prestigious prize, but that doesn’t mean he or his movie are above criticism.
The Post did indeed report that the judge ruled that there were nine factual errors in AIT. Of course it wasn’t true, as I might have mentioned before. And no-one is saying that Gore is above criticism, but questioning why the stories had to contain an anti-Gore factoid of dubious relevance. If a reporter really wanted to to provide information to his or readers about the scientific accuracy of Gore’s movie, why not get the opinion of a scientist rather than a judge?
Well, it seems that’s not the Post’s way of doing things. RealClimate:
Update 10/18/07: We are very disappointed that the Washington Post has declined to run an op-ed placing the alleged 9 ‘errors’ in a proper scientific context, despite having run an extremely misleading news article last week entitled “UK Judge Rules Gore’s Climate Film Has 9 Errors“.
The Post’s Joel Achenbach joined in on his blog, dismissing criticism of the Post’s coverage as “craziness”:
But there’s craziness all over: Even the mildest criticism of Gore can get his fans in a lather. The other day my colleague Michael Dobbs wrote a Fact Checker column on Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” Some readers howled in protest (“How do I get my parrot to crap on the on-line version of the Washington Post?” one said). This will shock you, but some readers occasionally resort to ad hominem attacks. (Especially the ones who speak Latin.)
There is a notion among some bloggers that the Post has an anti-Gore agenda.
Could that be true? And do corporate bosses tell us what to write about global warming?
If so, I’ve never gotten those memos. (Am I not important enough?)
The Post is a big place, with many departments, and no central authority dictates how we cover issues such as global warming. News and Editorial are separate departments and don’t confer on such things (and by the way, just in case anyone was wondering, the editorial board endorsed Gore in 2000 — “surely among the best prepared and most intelligent nominees of recent years”).
I don’t think there are memos telling Post journalists what to write, but somehow, when Gore got his Nobel, they all wrote the same thing. Five pieces mentioning the falsehood that a judge ruled that there were nine scientific errors in his movie. And Kurtz complaining that the coverage was too positive and did mention the judge’s decision enough. Achenbach works at the Post, so has more insight into the thought processes of journalists there. Perhaps he can explain what is going on. I stuck up for Achenbach in this post, because the conventions of American journalism prevent him from making an outright declaration that Bill Gray is crazy and the CEI dishonest, and the reader could draw that conclusion from his article. But by the same token, all the stories that keep repeating “judge says nine errors”, are telling the reader that Gore is a big exaggerator and that his movie can’t be trusted.