The folks at the Senate Environment and Public Works committee (GOP side) did quite a job Tuesday on an Associated Press report on positive scientific reception of Al Gore's slide-show film "An Inconvenient Truth." Now, the AP's media relations director, Linda Wagner, has filed a response.
The AP’s methodology was simple, straightforward and clean: We contacted more than 100 of the nation’s top climate researchers, including those who have been vocal skeptics of climate change theory. But we quoted only climate scientists who had actually viewed the documentary or read the book upon which it was based. As we learned in the course of our reporting – and as our story noted – most scientists have not seen the movie or read the book. And those who had seen it or read it were generally positive toward Gore’s scientific presentation.
The Senate Committee Majority’s press release was headlined "AP INCORRECTLY CLAIMS SCIENTISTS PRAISE GORE’S MOVIE." That headline is wrong: The story was completely accurate and met AP’s high standards in every way.
The AP story reported facts. It did not take a position in a debate, whether political or scientific, about global warming.
Wagner does not acknowledge that AP's self-selecting methodology -- surveying only those who selected themselves by running out to the Gore slide show, something Gore fans are more likely to do that Gore critics -- is not much more reliable as a poll of scientists than conducting an Internet survey. Would AP have done a story on how people who took Newt Gingrich's course on "Renewing American Civilization" found it was historically sound -- when they chose Gingrich as their expert guide in the first place?