Editor Claims 'It's Not Censorship' To Ignore Climate 'Deniers'

For a small display of the liberal arrogance that takes place inside news rooms across America, see the editor of the Arizona Daily Sun in Flagstaff, Arizona. Editor Randy Wilson wrote last Sunday that global warming “deniers” don’t deserve space in the newspaper. The headline was "It’s not censorship by ignoring those denying climate change.”

“When is a scientific question settled to the point that entertaining further debate becomes not only a waste of precious newsprint but also a diversion from finding a solution to the problems raised by the answer to the question?”  The “deniers” are like people who denied smoking causes cancer.

To dispute the science as either fundamentally flawed or a vast conspiracy among climate scientists to provide job security until their retirement simply hasn’t withstood scrutiny. There does seem room to debate the extreme predictions by some scientists, but the basic idea that human activities are accelerating the pace of global warming in an unsustainable way enjoys the same scientific consensus as the finding that smoking causes cancer.

A local newspaper, however, needs to reflect its community in the conversations it hosts. But in the case of Flagstaff, a university town with an environmental IQ far above average, there aren’t many climate change deniers willing to stick their heads up and take the inevitable flak. Yes, journalism is supposed to give voice to the powerless, but that’s not the same as allowing a small minority to filibuster what is arguably the most pressing problem on the planet. Unlike defeating a personal vice, tackling climate change will take collective, global action that deniers don’t seem willing to contemplate, much less engage.

Now there’s an interesting principle: a newspaper doesn’t need to “reflect the commmunity” if dissenters aren’t “willing to stick their heads up and take the inevitable flak.” Would this have been Wilson’s principle in Alabama in the 1950s? At least Wilson acknowledges "extreme predictions," but doesn't acknowledge that predictions made in the 1990s about dire environmental degradation haven't come true.

Like many liberals, Wilson thinks we need to get on with “collective global action” without acknowledging that the public has resisted onerous government mandates if other large countries like China and India do nothing, or insist the United States “go first” to demonstrate leadership. Convinced of a dire threat, they ask no questions about the costs to obtain benefits that are uncertain.

But Wilson concluded: “Does denying a seat at the journalistic table to climate change deniers amount to censorship and political correctness, in the sense that unpopular opinions are being silenced? As I am wont to tell some letter writers, you are entitled to your opinions, but not your facts. Let’s save our breath and get on with saving the planet.”

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis