Even when we have video of a death threat there are those who try to deny that scientists have been threatened. Like, oh, The Australian. Media Watch reports on media coverage of death threats on climate scientists:
One news outlet comes out of it, in our opinion, almost unscathed: Fairfax Media’s The Canberra Times. The ABC doesn’t look so great, and The Australian looks worst of all.
What The Australian did in several stories was pretend that a lack of death threats in emails over just six months at the ANU showed that there had been no death threats. For example: (Google “Police not told of ‘threats’ to ANU climate scientists”):
The Australian yesterday revealed Privacy Commissioner Timothy Pilgrim had debunked claims of death threats in 11 emails sent to university staff. …
Fairfax Media and the ABC reported last June that ANU climate researchers had been subjected to a vicious and unrelenting campaign that included death threats. …
As Media Watch says:
The Australian could have checked the hard copy of the Canberra Times’s original article in June last year.
You will be chased down the street with burning stakes and hung from your f*** neck, until you are dead, dead, dead!
Die you lying bastard!
F*** off you lying communist c—!!
Eat S*** and Die!!!
– The Canberra Times, 4th June, 2011
Or even better, The Oz could have actually gone to climate scientists around the country and asked for examples of threatening and abusive emails.
That’s what we did. We got these from just two scientists, one in Melbourne, one in Brisbane, received in that same six month period. They’re on our website, and they are not pretty reading and yes they were reported to police.
The response from Chris Merritt in The Australian is truly pathetic. Most of the story is about Media Watch’s criticism of the ABC’s reporting, even though Media Watch said The Australian was worse. Merritt’s defence of his paper’s reporting:
Holmes also criticised The Australian, but the basis of his criticism was in error.
Holmes gave the impression that the newspaper’s reports debunking death threats at the ANU had extended to other alleged death threats at other universities.
Well, yes, he gave that impression by quoting The Australian’s stories that said just that.
The Australian’s reporting of the issue has focused on tracking the progress of Mr Turnill’s FOI request, which focused only on ANU.
And only covered emails and six months of those. Not that you would know if this if you relied on The Australian‘s stories on the emails. There are now nine of them and not once has this important piece of information appeared.
Merritt continues with:
Holmes also mistakenly asserted that The Canberra Times had not reported there had been death threats at ANU. But articles to the contrary were published by that newspaper on June 4 and 5 last year.
In context it’s clear that Holmes meant that The Canberra Times had not reported that there had been emailed death threats at ANU in the previous six months. Which is what the FOI request covered. Not that Merritt and The Australian would ever tell you that.
And The Canberra Times was correct to report that there had been death threats at ANU as Media Watch confirmed by talking to Will Steffen. Not that Merritt and The Australian would ever tell you that.