The Island of Doubt

The focus has shifted from George F. Will’s refusal to accept the science of climate change to the Washington Post‘s refusal to accept responsibility for Will’s breach of journalism’s most sacred tenets. I don’t have more to say, but Carl Zimmer’s second analysis of the problem is bang on. There’s also Joe Romm (again) and Hilzoy of the Washington Monthly.

The bottom line is, Will was caught misrepresenting the science, and when the errors were brought to his editors’ attention, in no uncertain terms, they refused to acknowledge any had been made. It’s one thing to make a sloppy mistake, repeatedly. It’s another to refuse to run a correction when the mistakes are made clear. It’s beginning to look like Joe is right:

If you want to find the best journalism now on climate — the most science-based, the most fact-based, the most relevant to your lives and the lives of your children and the people you care about and indeed all of humanity — you must go to the web, specifically the blogosphere.

There’s still the NY Times‘ Andy Revkin, and the AP’s Seth Borenstein, but other than that, it’s slim pickings among what’s left of the mainstream media.


  1. #1 Christopher Mims
    February 20, 2009

    Oh, I think there are more of us in the mainstream media than you might imagine who are dedicated to writing responsibly about climate change. We just don’t have any name recognition. 🙂

    (Which is not to say I do not share your utter disdain for George Will, CNN’s assorted irresponsibilities or the occasional failure of Reuters to link weather events to climate change even when the models predicted they’d happen.)

  2. #2 Kim
    February 20, 2009

    I would add John Fleck of the Albuquerque Journal (who was the first person that I read pointing out the problems in Will’s column) to the list of reliable journalists dealing with climate. (He does a great service to a small city with its own particular climate problems – I think we should encourage anyone who helps local communities understand and deal with the local repercussions of climate change.)

  3. #3 Tenney Naumer
    February 20, 2009

    I don’t know. I just plain don’t know anymore.

    CNN’s general internet content began to be dumbed down as soon as Ted Turner sold out to Time Warner, and that was what? ten years ago?

    It was already very apparent back in early 2007 that “science” was being placed on the back burner by the msm’s internet sites. Sometimes, I had to click through 5 pages just to get to the climate science articles. A notable exception to this was of all sites — FoxNews.

    CNN just gradually disappeared their science pages.

    To find science articles on the International Herald Tribune’s webpage, you had to first click on the “Health” tab — go figure.

    BBC News is the only website to have upgraded their page’s science tab heading from “Science & Nature” to “Science & Environment” (although they still have a long way to go in improving the superficiality of their articles).

    Educators have been screaming at the top of their lungs for years that the U.S. is slipping further and further behind in science.

    But 8 years of Bush dummies has just exacerbated the problem.

    This situation can’t be turned around any time soon.

    Every time I turn around, I see msm articles completely screwing up their presentation of the latest research results. It’s like these reporters can’t even add or subtract much less discuss percentages or probabilities in an intellible manner for the wider public.

    But George F. Will’s “opinion piece” was a real piece of work.

    I have been reading his columns, off and on, for something like 30 years, and this one just shocked the hell out of me. Now, I will never again give any credit to a single word he writes.

  4. #4 Pierce R. Butler
    February 20, 2009

    … Will’s breach of journalism’s most sacred tenets.

    ??? He spelled the names right and (sfaik) got his copy in by deadline.

    Other journalistic tenets, if any, are subsacred.

  5. #5 abb3w
    February 21, 2009

    I’m tempted to call up and subscribe to the DC Post, telling them it’s so I have a subscription to cancel the next time they’re that incompetent.

  6. #6 Doo Darr
    February 23, 2009

    Sorta like your level of fact checking on surface temp measurement accuracy and the little problem with the arctic ice measuring sensor thingy. The AGW comedy just keeps on coming!!! Doo Darr, Doo Darr.

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