Despite an occasional line likely to raise a conservative's eyebrow ("Dyson may be an Obama-loving, Bush-loathing liberal who has spent his life opposing American wars and fighting for the protection of natural resources, but he brooks no ideology," for example) writer Nicholas Dawidoff's 8,200-word March 29 New York Times magazine feature, "The Civil Heretic," on world-renowned physicist, Iraq-protesting liberal and "global warming skeptic" Freeman Dyson will be appreciated by many readers of this blog.
Using a comfortable, storytelling style, Dawidoff immediately sets the scene:
A New York Times editorial published this week has been excoriated by Walter Olson, proprietor of the popular "Overlawyered" blog and senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and justly so. The subject is the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act of 2008 (CPSIA), a law that went into effect earlier this month and which even now is causing libraries, thrift shops and used book stores to throw away large volumes of used children's clothes, toys and any children's books published before 1985. Don't take it from me:
If you browse through the racks of children's clothing at area Goodwill stores, you'll notice half the supply is gone - all because of a new law being implemented by the federal government Tuesday morning. -KPTM FOX 42 News, Omaha, 2/9/09 (Hat tip for the link: Ace of Spades.) ...our realistic choices are: 1. Shut down our children's section, or 2. Ban kids 12 and younger from the library.
When University of Washington Professor Eric Steig announced in a news conference and paper published in the January 22 edition of the journal Nature that he and several colleagues removed one of many thorns in the sides of climate alarmists -- in this case, evidence that Antarctica is cooling -- he received extensive worldwide attention in the mainstream press.
The Stieg paper's release was covered by 27 newspapers, including the New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle & Los Angeles Times, by CNN, by the Associated Press, by NPR and quite a few others (see reviews of the coverage at the end of this post).
After independent analyst Steve McIntyre discovered a major error in the data, and released his results on his influential blog Climate Audit beginning on February 1, based on a Nexis search I conducted today, none of these outlets chose to inform their readers.
Here's how the Stieg research showing supposed warming was received by the mainstream press:
Apparently complacent about criticism from the Tennessee Center for Policy Research that his family's energy use at his Nashville home is more than 19 times greater than the average American household's, Al Gore has committed conspicious energy consumption once again.
In Washington D.C. Thursday to deliver yet another speech warning Americans about global warming caused, Gore believes, by excessive use of fossil fuels, Gore handed yet more evidence to critics who believe he's a hypocrite.
He did so by traveling to his speech in what almost certainly was an unnecessary entourage of three luxury gas-guzzling vehicles -- two Lincoln Town Cars and a Surburban SUV -- one of which was kept idling outside for twenty minutes, apparently to keep the interior cool for the driver, Mrs. Gore and the Gores' adult daughter.
Matea Gold's Los Angeles Times story today lets readers know what a close call it was that Jesse Jackson's off-color comments made it on the air yesterday.
But for an alert overnight transcriber, Jackson's comments, meant to be private, almost stayed that way. What a loss to the public interest that would have been. Not.
I suggest that the public benefited very little from knowing Jackson's personal feelings on this matter, and that Fox was doing little more than spreading gossip.
Revealing all isn't always useful. Take the rush to report then-President Reagan's remark, meant as a joke, that the bombing of the Soviet Union "begins in five minutes"? Like Jackson's comment, it was said into a live mic, but it wasn't meant to be public.
What if the Soviets had believed Reagan meant it? The satisfaction a few reporters received by covering something the President didn't intend to be public would have been faint consolation had nuclear warheads rained down on our heads.
Sure, Reagan shouldn't have said it, but was it any wiser to report it?
I believe the Washington Post knows perfectly well that the word "censor" does not belong in the lead of today's Juliet Eilperin story, but the editors left it in (or inserted it?) anyway.
The story, "Cheney Aides Altered EPA Testimony, Agency Official Says Ex-Administrator Says Official From Vice President's Office Edited Out Six Pages," begins:
Members of Vice President Cheney's staff censored congressional testimony by a top federal official on the health threats posed by global warming, a former Environmental Protection Agency official said today.
Bush and Cheney have been in office nearly seven and a half years now. That's time enough for the Post's staff and editors to get used to the fact that they were elected to run the executive branch, and thus they can alter any executive branch document, presentation or policy they darn well please.
That's not censorship; it's editing, policy-setting, or both.
Business as usual, when you run the government.
To be fair, near the end of the story, Eilperin's piece included this quote from the White House:
Nearly two years ago on Newsbusters, I floated a proposal that newspapers require their editorial and other writers to police themselves for accuracy by requiring them to turn in footnotes with their copy. The process would force writers to check information they think they know that isn't so.
My husband David Ridenour shares his analysis of the spin coming from a sponsor of the late and unlamented Lieberman-Warner global warming cap and trade bill, and the media's response:
We've been hit with a fast-moving, spinning column of hot air - and it's not another midwestern tornado. It's Joe Lieberman.
After Senate Democrats fell 12 votes short of the number needed to invoke cloture to end debate over the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act and move to a vote earlier today, Senator Lieberman (I-CT) issued a press release boldly proclaiming victory.
"Today 54 members of the United States Senate, including 9 Republicans, demonstrated their desire to move forward with the Lieberman-Warner Climate Security Act," Lieberman's press statement said.
Oh really? There were, in fact, only 48 votes in favor of ending the debate. The Connecticut tornado - er, Senator - also counted five Senators who didn't attend the vote, but who indicated in letters that they would have voted in favor of cloture had it been important enough to them to show up. Lieberman's count also included Senator Edward Kennedy, recovering from surgery, who had also sent a letter.
But U.S. Senate doesn't operate by mail-in ballot - at least, not yet. Senator Lieberman used to know that when he was a Democrat.
If you plug the search terms "James Hansen" and "censored" into Google, you get 37,900 results. Do the same search substituting "Roy Spencer" for "James Hansen," and you get 610 results (the third of which is from Newsbusters [here and here]).
The media is highly selective about the censorship it covers. Consider the note climatologist Roy Spencer posted on his website today:
Does CNN's Miles O'Brien cherrypick poll data? Apparently so.
I thought Newsbusters readers might be interested in an early peek at this forthcoming piece by David Ridenour of the National Center for Public Policy Research (full disclosure: I work there and I'm married to him) in which O'Brien is shown doing just that in the cause of smearing global warming so-called "skeptics" and the conservative Heartland Institute.
CNN's Miles O'Brien recently asserted that the Heartland Institute "desperately wants us to believe" there's a conspiracy to distort information about global warming.
[Georgia's] drought was a natural event transformed into a natural disaster by human folly. And while it's still hard to say whether global warming caused any particular drought or flood or fire, it's going to cause more of all of them.
In Africa, drought continues for the sixth consecutive year, adding terribly to the toll of famine victims... Climatological Cassandras are becoming increasingly apprehensive, for the weather aberrations they are studying may be the harbinger of another ice age.
The story, and a related post on the Reuters blog, implied that a noteworthy number of so-called global warming skeptics had been fooled by a fake "study" purporting disprove the manmade global warming theory.
A hoax scientific study pointing to ocean bacteria as the overwhelming cause of global warming fooled some skeptics on Thursday who doubt growing evidence that human activities are to blame.
Laden with scientific jargon and published online in the previously unknown "Journal of Geoclimatic Studies" based in Japan, the report suggested the findings could be "the death of manmade global warming theory."
The Center for American Progress's Think Progress blog attacked a Noel Sheppard post on NewsBusters and a handful of other conservative blogs today. Their crime? Citing climate change comments uttered by a weatherman.
Think Progress said:
The conservative blogosphere is pushing Coleman's junk science today. Matt Drudge links to NewsBusters' "marvelous" take on Coleman this morning. Red State [sic], Qando [sic], Sister Toldjah, and the Free Republic also join in by approvingly linking to Coleman's piece.
The right wing should check Coleman's credentials before touting his "scientific" work. As Coleman admits, his "expertise" is in weather - not climate change science. In fact, he "has been a TV weatherman since he was a freshman in college in 1953."
Think Progress doesn't believe a mere "weatherman" should speak his mind on climate, but...
When Rudy Giuliani said the survival rate for prostate cancer is 82 percent in the U.S. but only 44 percent in Britain, which has socialized medicine, you'd think a typical American response would be sympathy for the Britons, and the logical British response, outrage at its government.
You'd think wrong. The U.S. press corps devoted considerable energy -- and in some quarters, heated emotion -- to knocking down Giuliani's statistic, even when it had to twist logic like pretzels to do so. Meanwhile, the only outrage detected in Britain was against Giuliani -- for mentioning it.
Yet Giuliani's point, which is that socialized medicine systems fare badly compared to our own, remains valid.
The pro-socialized medicine lobbyists like to circulate U.S. health care system horror stories, such as this one they are circulating on email lists today (and which Daily Kos editorialized about here) about a man who allegedly murdered his wife, supposedly because he couldn't afford her medical bills.
Based on the content of the piece, it might better have been titled, "Assiduous Environmentalist Lobbying Draws a Mere Handful of Evangelicals into Environmentalist Fold," but that doesn't have the pro-environmentalist cheerleading quality the Post goes for in these pieces.
Presumably lacking statistical evidence of mass conversions, Eilperin uses argument-by-anecdote to imply that a significant number of Christian evangelicals are converting into anti-global warming activists:
Kudos to Marc Morano of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Minority Staff (and former staffer for Rush Limbaugh) for surrendering several hours of his life in the cause of debunking an incredibly, almost jaw-droppingly bad article, "Global-Warming Deniers: A Well-Funded Machine" (by Sharon Begley with Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift and Matthew Philips) in the August 13 Newsweek.
I read the Newsweek article after having been alerted to it by Marc, and my thoughts mirrored some of his:
CBS News, via its "Public Eye" blog, has responded to the National Center for Public Policy Research's critique (covered here yesterday in Newsbusters) of its 60 Minutes show Sunday.
In a nutshell, The National Center's David Hogberg had complained that a recent "60 Minutes" broadcast relied upon unrepresentative, artifically-high data to determine the price seniors are paying for drugs under Medicare. Second, David said "60 Minutes" falsely claimed the Veterans Administration derives its prices by negotiation with drug companies, not telling viewers the VA uses strict price controls.
Viewers were expected to conclude that VA-like negotiations by Medicare would result in lower drug prices for Medicare recipients. The critical phrase "price controls" never came up.
The National Center for Public Policy Research's health care senior policy analyst, David Hogberg, contacted
the CBS television show "60 Minutes" five times last week -- by telephone, fax and e-mail -- to warn the show's producers that a report by the leftie big-government health care lobby group Families USA, which "60 Minutes" planned to highlight in Sunday's show, rested on faulty data.
The Families USA report made certain claims in support of calls that Medicare be permitted to "negotiate (read: dictate) drug prices to drug companies. An analysis David completed for the National Center in January, and which he made available to "60 Minutes," called the Families USA study "nonsense."
As David explained in a National Center press release today:
The Los Angeles Times and Harper's have a bit of egg on their faces.
The Los Angeles Times ran an op-ed by Kitty Kelley last week claiming that no one in George W. Bush's extended family -- daughters, nieces or nephews -- has served in the military since his father's service in World War II.
The Bush family's supposed lack of military service is the entire focus of the op-ed.
Says Kelley: "The president tells us Iraq is a 'noble' war, but his wife, his children and his nieces and nephews are not listening. None has enlisted in the armed services, and none seems to be paying attention to the sacrifices of military families."
She also says: "The presidential nieces and nephews also have missed the memo on setting a good public example."
Merrill Goozner at the leftie Center for Science in the Public Interest (as opposed to the Center for Objective Science, presumably) went to the equally-leftie Guardian in Britain to argue in favor of expanding the insolvent U.S. Medicare system to cover uninsured people.
Goozner's column focused on 12-year-old Deamonte Driver of Prince George's County, MD, who died as a result of an untreated tooth infection. The left has been using Driver's death, not terribly convincingly (given the facts of the case), as an argument-by-acecdote in favor of socialized medicine.
I won't let the week end without a fisking of the Washington Post's silly global warming op-ed Monday by in-house writer Sebastian Mallaby.
Mallaby says: "While the White House was sorting out its message, the rest of Washington was busy. Over at the Reagan building, a conference on carbon trading sold 600 tickets at $595 a pop and turned away 150 executives hungry to study the intricacies of permit allocation."
Response: Hungry to study the green -- or to reap the green? People who understand the global warming debate more than superficially have long known there is a constituency among profit-seekers to impose cap and trade. There is money to be made, even though cap and trade would hurt the economy, and especially harm low-income individuals and families and small businesses operating at the margin. There's a reason Enron pushed so hard for Kyoto and other limits on carbon -- that reason is money. We now speak of Enron's green-fingered successors.
The National Center for Public Policy Research's health policy analyst, David Hogberg, is impressed by Paul Krugman -- by Krugman's mastery of spin, that is.
Here's David's look at the way Krugman is covering some of President Bush's recent statements on health care reform:
I have to admire Paul Krugman's ability to deceive with spin. He is a master at it. This passage from his last column is a quintessential example:
Mr. Bush is also proposing a tax increase ... on workers who, he thinks, have too much health insurance. The tax code, he said, "unwisely encourages workers to choose overly expensive, gold-plated plans. The result is that insurance premiums rise, and many Americans cannot afford the coverage they need."
In a very poorly written article in the Washington Post, reporter Christopher Lee seems to find it remarkable that a lot of the health insurance groups that opposed Hillary Clinton-Care back in the early 1990s are now on board with a number of the new efforts at health insurance reform (and I use that last term loosely).
The Laurie David/Al Gore/Keith Olbermann/Washington Post v. National Science Teachers Association controversy continues, with Science magazine weighing in with facts that don't look so good for Laurie David. (Watch for the drive by media to lose interest in this story any minute now.)
Here's the latest (earlier posts about aspects of this are here, here and here):
According to Science magazine, Laurie David now admits the National Science Teachers Association offered the Gore Gang the opportunity to mail the DVD to NSTA members. What David is mad about is 1) the NSTA didn't offer to provide a letter endorsing the movie (NTSA, according to Science, says it has had a policy since 2001 "prohibiting endorsements of any product or message by an outside organization"), and 2) the NSTA didn't offer to pay the costs for mailing 50,000 DVDs (somewhat understandably, in my view, since it wasn't their idea to mail it in the first place) of David's and Gore's movie.
The National Science Teachers Association has now officially responded to Laurie David's Washington Post op-ed (see Noel Sheppard's Newsbusters post on the op-ed here) essentially accusing the group of being captive to corporate interests when it declined a gift of 50,000 "An Inconvenient Truth" DVDs for distribution to classrooms.
It doesn't say so, but presumably the NSTA is also responding to MSNBC anchor Keith Olbermann's Monday evening accusation that the NSTA president, Linda Froschauer, is "available at the right price," a statement made by Olbermann in a commentary that appears to have been based on the Laurie David Washington Post op-ed.
With the final line "Linda Froschauer, president of the National Science Teachers Association, available at the right price," Keith Olbermann of MSNBC Monday named Froschauer his "Worst Person in the World."
How did Ms. Froschauer get labeled a policy prostitute on MSNBC? The organization she heads declined a donation of 50,000 DVD copies of Al Gore's documentary-editorial "An Inconvenient Truth."
Yep. Apparently that movie is so good, people have to be paid to turn down 50,000 copies of it.
As movie producer Laurie David said in an indignant op-ed in the Washington Post (one of four pro-global warming theory articles the Post ran over the last two-day weekend, by my count), the movie's producers donated the 50,000 DVDs "for educators to use in their classrooms."
From page one of today's Washington Post, an article by Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin that begins with a reference to "the scientific consensus about climate change" as if the "consensus" were an established fact:
While the political debate over global warming continues, top executives at many of the nation's largest energy companies have accepted the scientific consensus about climate change and see federal regulation to cut greenhouse gas emissions as inevitable.
The Democratic takeover of Congress makes it more likely that the federal government will attempt to regulate emissions. The companies have been hiring new lobbyists who they hope can help fashion a national approach that would avert a patchwork of state plans now in the works. They are also working to change some company practices in anticipation of the regulation.
...memories of 1980s media bias when it comes to U.S. coverage of Nicaragua.
Fans [of Daniel Ortega] waved a sea of Sandista [sic] flags -- some in the traditional red-and-black stripes of Ortega's 1979 revolution that toppled the corrupt Somoza dynasty...
Somoza was toppled by a broad coalition the goals of which were subsequently hijacked by the Marxist-Leninist Ortega brothers.
During his first presidency, Ortega became a symbol of U.S. fears that a communist wildfire could sweep the Americas in the 1980s.
Ortega is more than a symbol. He's a real guy, and USSR and Cuba-funded civil wars were not a "fear" in the 1980s, but a reality. The civil war in El Salvador, for instance, really happened.
As the seventh leftist leader to win office in recent years in a Latin America increasingly at odd [sic] with U.S. dictates, Ortega's victory represents both a symbolic and a strategic blow to President George W. Bush.
Many political analysts called it a self-inflicted wound, saying United States made the Cold War dinosaur who will lead this desperately poor, banana-exporting, New York-sized nation of 5.5 million into a far more important figure that he is.