The so-called global warming crisis is falling apart at ever-increasing rates as skeptical bloggers chisel away at faults in the IPCC and whitewashes of ClimateGate, while digging up long-forgotten dire forecasts of weather driven by global cooling. It all must be working. Polls indicate downward trends in public concern over the issue, so organizations like Google come up with plans to fix public ignorance.
Global warming believers think this putative ignorance can be cured by shouting their old 3-part mantra louder:
1. "the science is settled";
2. skeptic scientists are paid by fossil fuel industries to "reposition global warming as theory rather than fact";
3. the media gives too much attention to those skeptics, who do not deserve equal time.
This strategy works when nobody questions anything about those three points -- thus the shouting.
I started questioning where the hokey phrase in point #2 came from in late 2009. Rather than finding simple answers, I instead found a sea of red flags associated with that corruption accusation and its promoters, the now-defunct Ozone Action group, and anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan, prompting me to write articles here and elsewhere about it. Having gathered 17 months of research on this, it looks to me like all three points were consolidated at the hands of that group, so I do double-takes whenever I see a familiar looking mantra narrative.
Such as when I saw mantra point #3 in this "Longtime Minnesota TV reporter digs into global climate change" article just days ago in the Duluth Budgeteer, (reproduced here). At first glance, we read what appears to be a simple explanation:
After spending 32 years in front of the camera as an anchorman and investigative reporter for WCCO-TV in Minneapolis, Don Shelby wanted to apologize to people about climate change. ...
The TV newsman's mea culpa about having misreported climate change came after of years of treating the story the same as he would any other, requiring the views of two opposing parties ...
Shelby said he used the skills of any good investigative reporter and followed the money. "Once I began to trace back the source and the politics of that approach to science ... Things began to smell. I then started pointing out those facts". ...
While it's terrific news a respected media personality has recognized the grave consequences of "false equivalence" in the media's handling of climate change, there still are hundreds of journalists who haven't come to their senses... Some of these reporters are overly credulous; some are overworked or lazy...
Things aren't quite that simple here. Regarding "false equivalence," those exact words were repeated to me by the PBS Ombudsman, as I described in my 2009 American Thinker piece, "The Lack of Climate Skeptics on PBS's 'NewsHour,'" where I quoted other repetitions about "unnecessary media balance." The bulk of those repetitions start occurring around 2004, coinciding with the publication of Gelbspan's book Boiling Point, and an often-quoted line at the bottom of page 72 from its "Bad Press" chapter:
For many years, the press accorded the same weight to the "skeptics" as it did to mainstream scientists. This was done in the name of journalistic balance. In fact, it was journalistic laziness.
Notice its variation of "lazy." An earlier version is seen in an LA Times 1999 article written by Kevin Sweeney, chairman of Ozone Action, who alleged that a fossil fuel front group...
...provided ready sources for journalists who, under the guise of objectivity, lazily assume that "another side" to the science should be presented in each story on the topic.
The earliest "unfair media balance" narrative I know of was reported by the Media Resource Center back in 1992, about a Boston Globe article co-authored by Gelbspan and Dianne Dumanoski, where the MRC noted:
Gelbspan quoted greenhouse promoter Stephen Schneider: "It is journalistically irresponsible to present both sides as if it were a question of balance...It is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field...."
I personally got into this having been an investigative reporter because I found out that the coal industry was paying a handful of scientists in the US to say climate change isn't happening.
This Duluth Budgeteer report was supposed to be simple story, nicely proving the global warming believers' #3 mantra point about the media. Under hard scrutiny, it instead opens up a Pandora's box, and further compounds its problems by having Shelby say his goal is to inspire people to "be informed and to be able to think critically about what they see in the media."
We are fast approaching a watershed moment in history for the mainstream media, and the so-called global warming crisis may end up being major huge factor in it. We've been told nice, neat stories of global warming as a pre-established fact, with non-stop narratives of why skeptics should be ignored rather than explanations of how they were disproved. This will turn from being the very thing keeping the issue alive to what ultimately accelerates its collapse, as more and more people demand answers to the most basic of questions about the underlying science, the faults in the IPCC, and what has to happen if the corruption accusation against skeptic scientists turns out to be a fabrication by a small group of enviro-activists.
Rush Limbaugh has cautioned us never to expect the mainstream media to tell us the whole story of global warming. I disagree. As problems in the issue are uncovered at exponential rates, this must surely smell like blood in the water to some journalists, where blame for the long-term cascade of fact-checking failures absolutely begs to be assigned. It's only a matter of time.
Update: The Duluth News-Tribine takes notice.