In Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander’s column on George Will he notes that he received thousands of emails demanding corrections to Will’s column, and eventually concedes that Will’s sea ice claim was false and should have caught by the fact checkers,

The editors who checked the Arctic Research Climate Center Web site believe it did not, on balance, run counter to Will’s assertion that global sea ice levels “now equal those of 1979.” I reviewed the same Web citation and reached a different conclusion.

It said that while global sea ice areas are “near or slightly lower than those observed in late 1979,” sea ice area in the Northern Hemisphere is “almost one million sq. km below” the levels of late 1979. That’s roughly the size of Texas and California combined. In my mind, it should have triggered a call for clarification to the center.

But despite this, he does not suggest that a correction to Will’s falsehood about sea ice be published.

There are more comments on Alexander’s column from Joe Romm and A Siegel.


  1. #1 bi -- IJI
    February 28, 2009

    Let’s see:

    When Al Gore was told that one of his presentation slides was inaccurate, he removed it immediately.

    When the Washington Post was told that one of their articles was full of nothing but junk, they gave lots of excuses.

    This, of course, shows that Warmists Are Closed-Minded.

    [insert Liberal Fascism joke here]

  2. #2 Thom
    February 28, 2009

    The ombudsman’s tone is, at times, disturbing.

    For example: “A key paragraph, aimed at those who believe in man-made global warming….”

    Is the Post going to start running stories about people who “believe in the theory that high cholesterol levels lead to heart disease”? Or an article about “those who believe that mercury is poisonous”?

    Come on. This is just dumb.

  3. #3 Paul
    February 28, 2009

    The ombudsman is employed by the Washington Post?

    Or is he independent and just has an office at the Washington Post?

  4. #4 Dano
    February 28, 2009

    I long ago quit looking for evidence of the Murrican controlled corporate media.

    Why did I give up? Way too easy, no challenge to it.



  5. #5 JB
    March 1, 2009

    The Washington Post is a rag. has been for some time.

    What more is there to say?

    I would not be surprised if its ombudsman (Alexander) and everyone else who works at the Post find themselves without a job in the not too distant future.

    It’s no secret that the Post is bleeding (itself) to death from gaping, self-inflicted wounds to the head.

    To Mr. Alexander I would say this: you fit right in at the Post. You are an incompetent hack.

  6. #6 JM
    March 1, 2009

    No correction? Par for the course. I finally realized Chomsky, Vidal, et al. were correct about the US corporate media around the time of the first Gulf War. I swore the US media off entirely in the run up to the Iraq War. (Oh how they went on about WMD’s in Iraq.) And I’m shedding no tears that the US newspapers are dying. They have no credibility left whatsoever.


  7. #7 Scott M
    March 1, 2009

    “The ombudsman is employed by the Washington Post?

    Or is he independent and just has an office at the Washington Post?”

    Yes, ombudsmen are employed by the publication (or website) in question. They are supposed to be an independent look at the paper outside of the editorial board. In the Post’s case though, Alexander is a sad rubber stamp.

  8. #8 Douglas Watts
    March 1, 2009

    “A key paragraph, aimed at those who believe that smoking is harmful….

    Ahh … that’s better.

  9. #9 Hank Roberts
    March 1, 2009

    Ya know, this all goes back apparently to “20 links” handed to Will’s editors by a research assistant.

    When I Google “20 links” I find almost nothing but sausage.

    Maybe it’s time to send mail-order sausage, the 20-link package size, to the Ombudsman, since he can’t seem to provide the storied 20 links to the public to check out.

  10. #10 naught101
    March 1, 2009

    frankbi, you never fail to cheer me up. Your comments rock.

    Agree with thom:
    “angry environmental activists and a few scientists” – yeah I bet. Way to take down a legitimate claim by stereotyping.

  11. #11 Paul
    March 2, 2009

    >Yes, ombudsmen are employed by the publication (or website) in question. They are supposed to be an independent look at the paper outside of the editorial board. In the Post’s case though, Alexander is a sad rubber stamp.

    What is the point in having an Ombudsman employed by the publication that is being monitored?

    That’s a bit like getting oil companies to pay climate scientists to do research on CO2 emissions!
    Of course that is bound to work.

  12. #12 Hank Roberts
    March 5, 2009
  13. #13 Hank Roberts
    March 5, 2009

    damn software’s being smarter than me again. Like that was hard and needed proof. Backslash for literal.

  14. #14 Eli Rabett
    March 5, 2009

    On the Tobis-Revkin-Pielke front Ethon chews on the chair Roger is sitting in.

  15. #15 Hank Roberts
    March 6, 2009

    So, for those who didn’t click the link to Hrynshyn (islandofdoubt), the money quote is:

    >I wrote to the Post in hopes of getting a look at that list. Here is the ombudsman’s reply to my request:

    >>I think that would be up to Mr. Will’s office, since it originated there and is clearly an internal document. As a syndicated columnist, he does not work in The Washington Post building. You can write him at:

    >>Best wishes,
    >>Andy Alexander
    >>Washington Post Ombudsman

    >As far as I’m concerned the story of how Will manages to misrepresent the science of climate change in column after column at a newspaper as respectable as the Washington Post won’t be over until we have a good look at that list. So I have written to Will.

    So Andy Alexander has now admitted their columnists get to _assert_ whatever they believe, from some Internet link, and the newspaper will accept those as “facts” for purposes of publishing the stuff — they get the list of links, but consider those an ‘internal’ document belonging to George Will so they don’t question it or disclose the list.

    I’m still betting the research guy fed Will poptech’s post at Stanford’s blog, made a couple of years ago (has anyone found an earlier instance where that old and well known research paper about longterm change got misspun into a bogusphere claim about _rapid_ cooling?)

    Poor ombudsman. No om, no bud, no man.
    Nothing left.

  16. #16 Sharl
    March 6, 2009

    From Chris Mooney’s 02MAR post:

    I just sent Fred Hiatt a roughly 900 word oped, with references, that I believe soundly refutes George Will’s three central climate science claims from his February 15 column. I also make a larger, more resonant point. I hope the Post will publish the column–but you folks will see it in some form no matter what, this I promise. Stand by, and thanks for your support.

  17. #17 Hank Roberts
    March 6, 2009

    Have I mentioned hating Markdown? The excerpt from Hrynshin starts with the —- and ends at “to Will.” No idea what happened to the wrap on the block quote within that.

  18. #18 Tim Lambert
    March 6, 2009

    Hank, I fixed it. You just use two >s for nested quotes.

  19. #19 Hank Roberts
    March 7, 2009

    Thank you Tim, I’ll try to do better.

    And for the WaPo Ombudsman, who replied to James Hrynshin as quoted above blowing off the request for the “roughly 20” Internet links claiming the list remains an “internal document” belonging to their external columnist:

    Good grief. Entitled far beyond what was originally claimed.

  20. #20 MikeM
    March 9, 2009

    Fred Pearce explained in New Scientist on 15 Dec, 2006 (“Histories: The ice age that never was”)that:

    The global cooling effect was real in the couple of decades from the 1940s to the 1960s. In 1971 young climate researcher Steven Schneider published a paper (his first to be published) predicting that this cooling would continue. In 1974 he published a retraction after realising that the cooling effect of aerosols in the atmosphere and their rate of anthropogenic generation was substantially less than his original paper assumed, and that the warming effect of increasing CO2 would be substantially greater.

    Nay-sayers recall the excitement generated by Schneider’s first paper but are unaware of, or have forgotten, his subsequent one.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.