L.A. Times Calls B.S. on the White House

Last week I got pretty exercised about how the White House was trying to rewrite history to pretend that Bush had always endorsed the scientific consensus on human-caused global warming. Well, now an L.A. Times news analysis piece by Maura Reynolds and James Gerstenzang goes over Bush's record, albeit incompletely, and comes to a similar conclusion. Check this out:

The letter cites a June 2001 speech by Bush, quoting him as saying that "we know the surface temperature of the Earth is warming.... There is a natural greenhouse effect that contributes to warming.... And the National Academy of Sciences indicates that the increase is due in large part to human activity."

But the parts of the speech excised or ignored by the letter give a somewhat different impression. For instance, the citation deletes a sentence that asserts that "concentration of greenhouse gases, especially CO2, have increased substantially since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution" -- a time frame suggesting that the contemporary world may have played only a small role.

Moreover, Bush's mention of the National Academy of Sciences was quickly followed by a sentence that cast doubt on the notion of human contribution to climate change. "Yet the academy's report tells us that we do not know how much effect natural fluctuations in climate may have had on warming," Bush said at the time.

"We do not know how fast change will occur or even how some of our actions could impact it," he added.

This agrees with my analysis. The White House was, essentially, misquoting the president's own speech.

The Times writers could have done a more thorough job if they had looked more closely at Bush's record on global warming after 2001, and particularly his 2006 statements about the existence of a "debate" over whether the phenomenon is natural or human caused. Still, it's heartening to see a major media organization expose the White House's blatant lie (while, of course, shying away from calling it that).

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Do you plan on sending a letter to the Times containing they missed, or would that be a lesson in futility?

"The Times writers could have done a more thorough job if they had looked more closely at Bush's record on global warming after 2001, and particularly his 2006 statements about the existence of a "debate" over whether the phenomenon is natural or human caused."

Then again, perhaps all they did was recycle some of your arguments from your blog.

I would be very surprised if they were not aware of what you wrote on this last week, Chris.

If they were aware, they certainly should have credited you.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 12 Feb 2007 #permalink

lesson in futility...and, nobody credits bloggers. I've been ripped off much worse than this!!!

Unfortunately, the LAT story did not clearly point out, as you did, that by omitting the intervening sentence about CO2 levels, they implied that Bush was in 2001 accepting the human contribution to warming, when in fact he was only accepting our contribution to CO2. His other statements from that period show that he did not accept the human contribution to warming.

Don, that's typical journalistic posturing, failing to be explicit because of a fear of seeming not objective enough. But if you read between the lines....

nobody credits bloggers."

If they took your words and changed them around a bit without crediting you, that's plagiarism -- and probably also copyright infringement -- nonetheless.

Some newspapers seem to have high tolerance for plagiarism, which basically amounts to a green light for journalists to do it even more.

By Dark Tent (not verified) on 12 Feb 2007 #permalink