It appears hell hath frozen over, for a Newsweek contributing editor published an article Saturday extraordinarily critical of his magazine's cover story last week about "global-warming deniers" being funded by oil companies in an organized scam to thwart science.
In fact, Robert J. Samuelson accurately noted how "self-righteous indignation can undermine good journalism," and that this disgraceful article was "an object lesson of how viewing the world as ‘good guys vs. bad guys' can lead to a vast oversimplification of a messy story."
Fortunately, Samuelson was just getting warmed up (emphasis added throughout, h/t Marc Morano):
The story was a wonderful read, marred only by its being fundamentally misleading.
NEWSWEEK's "denial machine" is a peripheral and highly contrived story. NEWSWEEK implied, for example, that ExxonMobil used a think tank to pay academics to criticize global-warming science. Actually, this accusation was long ago discredited, and NEWSWEEK shouldn't have lent it respectability. (The company says it knew nothing of the global-warming grant, which involved issues of climate modeling. And its 2006 contribution to the think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, was small: $240,000 out of a $28 million budget.)
The alleged cabal's influence does not seem impressive. The mainstream media have generally been unsympathetic; they've treated global warming ominously. The first NEWSWEEK cover story in 1988 warned the greenhouse effect. danger: more hot summers ahead. A Time cover in 2006 was more alarmist: be worried, be very worried. Nor does public opinion seem much swayed. Although polls can be found to illustrate almost anything, the longest-running survey questions show a remarkable consistency. In 1989, Gallup found 63 percent of Americans worried "a great deal" or a "fair amount" about global warming; in 2007, 65 percent did.
Shocking. But, Samuelson wasn't finished:
But the overriding reality seems almost un-American: we simply don't have a solution for this problem. As we debate it, journalists should resist the temptation to portray global warming as a morality tale-as NEWSWEEK did-in which anyone who questions its gravity or proposed solutions may be ridiculed as a fool, a crank or an industry stooge. Dissent is, or should be, the lifeblood of a free society.
Bravo, Robert! Bravo!