It pains me to blog this. I think Andrew Revkin is one of our best science journalists, and I don’t criticize him easily.
That might also explain why my taking a stand here is a bit tardy.
Nevertheless, I, like many others, think Revkin really blew it with this article, which begins with the following sentence–“In the effort to shape the public’s views on global climate change, hyperbole is an ever-present temptation on all sides of the debate”–and then proceeds to draw a false equivalence between a minor, arguable slip-up by Al Gore and George Will’s blatant, unrepentant strewing of falsehoods.
Rather than telling it like it is–Gore perhaps goofed slightly but quickly corrected himself, whereas Will has no apparent interest in the truth whatsoever–Revkin reports matters this way: “Both men, experts said afterward, were guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements.”
Revkin has done tons of valuable reporting over the years, and broke much of the most important news about the Bush administration’s climate scandals. This piece doesn’t erase that. Still, it worries me. Just because Obama is president, that doesn’t mean journalists writing on climate now have to split the difference between Al Gore and the likes of George Will in order to seem “objective.”
Note: Joe Romm destroys the Revkin piece, in language much tougher than I would use, and in a tone that’s much more combative–but also in a way that’s, in my judgment, substantively correct for the most part. Also see this comment from Kalee Kreider, in Gore’s office, on Revkin’s article: “it conflates and misrepresents Mr. Gore’s tweaking of a particular slide in his 400+ slide presentation with someone who ignores wholesale the vast consensus that the climate crisis is real, it is caused by humans, and it will get worse unless we solve it.”
Indeed. I don’t see how to defend that.