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Fred Hiatt jumps the shark in dragging Washington Post into the sewers: Publishes Sarah Palin OPED contradicted by links within the OPED

December 8th, 2009 · 15 Comments

As someone weaned on the Watergate-era Washington Post, The Washington Post opinion section has  been abysmal in its ‘faux and balanced’ nature in recent years. And, it is sinking to a new low in its fostering of a ClimateGate era.

Post Editorial Page Editor Fred Hiatt’s utter disdain for truthful discourse has been evidenced not just by publishing George Will’s repeated deceptions and false statements, but with Hiatt’s absurd claims of quality factchecking and arrogant defense of publishes these falsehoods with asserting that those who disagree should simply debate … the faux and balanced conception that the occasional publication of letters directly proving Will’s errors and falsehoods somehow creates a fair and balanced environment is something hard to conceive of ever having occurred in The Washington Post of Katherine Graham and Ben Bradlee.

Amid the Copenhagen climate summit, Fred Hiatt has chosen to descend the paper to a new low, seeming to prove that there is somehow a balance between outright falsehoods and ignorance, on the one side, and scientific knowledge and honest discourse on the other.

Sarah Palin, fresh off a shallowly ignorant Facebook post calling on President Obama not to go to Copenhagen, has an opinion piece appearing in Wednesday’s Washington Post (following up on Palin’s ghostwritten absurdity published by the Post in July). And, the factual dissections of her falsehoods are already piling on. In terms of those dissections, what is amazing is that one doesn’t have to go beyond the Post itself to find them. I very rarely so heavily quote another blogger, but the always worth reading Tim Lambert has a brutal damning post, The Washington Post can’t go out of business fast enough.

Not content with publishing George Will’s fabrications about the stolen emails (for which, see Carl Zimmer), they now have a piece by climate expert Sarah Palin. The Washington Post simply does not care about the accuracy of the columns it publishes. Let’s look at just one paragraph:

The e-mails reveal that leading climate “experts” deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics by preventing them from publishing in peer-reviewed journals. What’s more, the documents show that there was no real consensus even within the CRU crowd. Some scientists had strong doubts about the accuracy of estimates of temperatures from centuries ago, estimates used to back claims that more recent temperatures are rising at an alarming rate.

I didn’t add the link to this paragraph. It’s a link to the WaPo’s own report on the email theft and it directly contradicts Palin. For example, the WaPo’s news story says:

Phil Jones, the unit’s director, wrote a colleague that he would “hide” a problem with data from Siberian tree rings with more accurate local air temperature measurements.

But Palin says that he tried to “hide the decline” in global temperatures, when in fact he showed the increase in global temperatures since 1960. The Wapo’s report does not support any of the false claims in Palin’s paragraph. No they didn’t deliberately destroy data, no, they didn’t try to stop their critics from publishing. And while the emails show there are many things that the scientists disagree on, they doesn’t mean there is no consensus about anything — they agree that it is getting warmer and that we are causing it. So what use is the Washington Post? If they are not going to do even the most perfunctory fact checking on the stuff they publish, what value do they add?

In other words, yet again the Post’s ‘multi-layered editing process’ has failed, (like it did here) utterly, in assuring that readers are actually receiving factual information (let alone truthful statements). As Joe Romm noted, the Post “just editorialized, “Many — including us — find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible” [and then] has just published a grotesquely irresponsible and falsehood-filled piece on climate science and the hacked emails by that leading light of science, ex-Governor Sarah Palin.” Romm politely calls the Palin piece “unmitigated tabloid nonsense”.

Fred Silva (Chicago Tribune’s The Swamp) is actually more polite but easily as damning, highlighting how Palin once spoke of the need to cut emissions and is now singing (a sour note) back to the reality-denying teabagger base.

If clicking through the web and reading scientific reports might have been too hard for the Post’s editorial page “fact checkers”, perhaps they could have popped some popcorn and watched this 10 minute video to have more than enough material to reject Palin’s truthiness.

One has to wonder whether another civil war will breakout in the Washington Post (it seems to have started with this Joel Achenbach’s blog post) or whether “faux and balanced” has truly been adopted across the entire Washington Post enterprise. (Note: this Fallows piece is likely to be closely read in journalism schools across the country. Heads up, the Washington Post comes off very poorly when compared to the NY Times when it comes to ClimateGate/Swifthack ‘reporting’.)

UPDATE: Other posts re the ghost-written Palinism:

PS: We can almost be certain that Sarah Palin did not actually write this OPED, but that this ghostwritten piece is part of the campaign to try to create some form of ’street creds’ of her policy death and intellect.  However appealing this piece might be to the Republican base, its anti-science talking points are a travesty and, well, simply false truthiness.

Again, for a discussion of the last Post published ghost-written “Palin” oped, see Sarah “Energy Expert” Palin: Ready to lead America away from science and back into the past.

NOTE: For accurate information on ClimateGate, the Post editorial board could start with SwiftHack.

PS2: For a far different read, might I suggest taking a moment to learn a geographical A, B, Cs of global boiling?

Tags: George Will · Global Warming · Washington Post · climate change · climate delayers · energy efficiency · global warming deniers · government energy policy · journalism · truthiness

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