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Satter and Eilperin failure to demonstrate learning

November 22nd, 2011 · 11 Comments

When delivered, on a silver platter, an opportunity to demonstrate learning and fulfill the Fourth Estate’s essential role of fostering a more informed public, Associate Press reporter Raphael Satter and Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin trip over themselves in a rush to press and disseminate deceptive truthiness rather than engage in truthful reporting.

Satter seems to double down on reporting innuendoes and falsehoods disproven in multiple investigations by institutions around the world.

Although their context couldn’t be determined, the excerpts appeared to show climate scientists talking in conspiratorial tones about ways to promote their agenda and freeze out those they disagree with.

Even though noting that the “context couldn’t be determined …”, Satter decides to move forward with “excerpts appear” even though the 2009 “ClimateGate” stolen email leakage was shown, through the following year, to have been a manipulated effort by those seeking to undermine climate science. The stolen material released today all dates back, evidently, to prior to the first theft — this is old material that the thieves have had for years. And, even so, they have released only a small share of the material. And, even with that selective manipulation, what we have are appearances as opposed to some form of proof (for anyone other than the most serious anti-science syndrome suffering haters of a livable economic system).

Note that Satter is explicit about shortfalls in reporting,

The content of the new batch of emails couldn’t be immediately verified — The Associated Press has not yet been able to secure a copy — but climate skeptic websites carried what they said were excerpts.

Thus, Satter / AP are running with a story based solely on material provided by people who have repeatedly been documented as promoting deceitful information.

Satter at least had the common sense (decency) to engage and quote some of the targets of this selective and deceptive representation of stolen emails.

Penn State University Prof. Michael Mann — a prominent player in the earlier controversy whose name also appears in the latest leak — described the latest leak as “a truly pathetic episode,” blaming agents of the fossil fuel industry for “smear, innuendo, criminal hacking of websites, and leaking out-of-context snippets of personal emails.” He said the real story in the emails was “an attempt to dig out 2-year-old turkey from Thanksgiving ’09. That’s how desperate climate change deniers have become.”

Bob Ward, with the London School of Economics’ Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change, said in an email that he wasn’t surprised by the leak.

“The selective presentation of old email messages is clearly designed to mislead the public and politicians about the strength of the evidence for man-made climate change,” he said. “But the fact remains that there is very strong evidence that most the indisputable warming of the Earth over the past half century is due to the burning of fossil fuels and other human activities.”

Juliet Eilperin, who simply should know (far) better than this, seems determined to jump on the bandwagon of conspiracy theorist rather than serious reporting. In a piece highlighting climate denial spinmaster Marc Morano (“Marc Morano, a prominent climate skeptic and editor of the website Climate Depot, welcomed the e-mails’ release.”), in the first paragraph, Eilperin theorizes that this release of stolen emails

may ignite a renewed debate, at least among some bloggers and climate-change skeptics, over whether scientists have exaggerated the link between human activity and global warming.

Later in the story, Eilperin quotes a University of East Anglia press release that comments on how investigations (repeated and exhaustive investigations) have found no scientific wrong-doing and nothing in these emails that undermines the Scientific Theory of Global Warming and humanity’s growing impact on the climate. E.g, quotes an involved party’s press release in a ‘he says, she says’ manner rather than providing truthful and direct reporting about these investigations.

Two years after a global rush to report, rather than investigate, facilitate a criminal conspiracy to undermine climate science, these two reporters have sadly provided a quick response to Brad Johnson’s question:  Climategate 2.0: Have Journalists learned their lesson?

Update:  See Jocelyn Fong’s excellent Media Already Botching Reports on Hacked Climate Emails for additional perspective and documentation.

Earlier today I asked whether American news outlets would do their due diligence in evaluating the content of the newly-released batch of “Climategate” emails hacked from the University of East Anglia two years ago. It didn’t take long for our esteemed print outlets to disappoint.

Writing on the Washington Post’s website, Juliet Eilperin quotes an email exchange that she said was about “whether the IPCC has accurately depicted the temperature rise in the lower atmosphere” ….  Astoundingly, Eilperin does not tell readers that these email exchanges took place in February 2005 and were about the first draft of a chapter of the IPCC report released two years later. The emails depict the authors of the chapter hashing out what should be included — exactly what you would expect this process to look like.

Note that Congressman Ed Markey (D-MA) called for an intelligence community investigation into these efforts to disrupt international negotiations:

This is clearly an attempt to sabotage the international climate talks for a second time, and there has not been enough attention paid to who is responsible for these illegal acts. If this happened surrounding nuclear arms talks, we would have the full force of the Western world’s intelligence community pursuing the perpetrators. And yet, with the stability of our climate hanging in the balance with these international climate treaty negotiations, these hackers and their supporters are still on the loose. It is time to bring them to justice.

See the following for thoughts on the stolen leaked emails:

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11 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Zombie climate emails rise again (updated) | Scholars and Rogues // Nov 22, 2011 at 4:44 pm

    […] this so far and who aren’t deniers off in the weeds hunting snipes: Media Matters DeSmog Blog Get Energy Smart ThinkProgress Green HuffPo Climate Progress Barry Bickmore Climate Crocks UEA press release Related […]

  • 2 John Egan // Nov 22, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Of course, Pope Clement VI issued the bull “Unigenitus” – claiming the supremacy of papal authority over state authority – only because it wasn’t any longer.

    Ditto for Nixon’s “I am not a crook.”

    Thus … your point?

    Honestly, I am confused. Are you taking an angle that climate scientist are Pope Clement and issuing edicts at odds with reality due to ideology? If this, then you reject science and scientific knowledge due to selective and misleading quotations from stolen emails?

  • 3 Climategate 2.0: Have Journalists Learned Their Lesson? UPDATE: No. | Greediocracy // Nov 22, 2011 at 9:41 pm

    […] Matters‘ Jocelyn Fong and Get Energy Smart‘s A. Siegel take reporters to task for failing the Climategate II […]

  • 4 John Egan // Nov 22, 2011 at 10:44 pm

    If there is no doubt about the matter at hand, there is no need to issue edicts. The edict only serves to reassure the edict-pronouncer.

  • 5 John Egan // Nov 22, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    I stick by my longstanding view of the AGW faction –

    “AGW faction” … hmmm … you mean those who actually look to the science and accept the implications of science?

    that it is politically naive and, ultimately, harmful to progressive interests. I am, at core, a materialist leftist – – I believe one must have the red before the green is viable. The past two decades have seen a steady erosion of working-class support for the left – – even going so far as major right-populist successes – – in France, Britain, the U.S. With the non-democratic replacement of the Greek government and the defeat of left governments in Spain and Portugal – practically all of Europe is center-right to far right.

    In Australia, Gillard’s government exists on the smallest of margins – in hock to the Greens in the Senate and dependent on former Nationals on the bench in the House. It will fall and Labour is unlikely to hold.

    I do not disagree with much of the climate science – but with the policy implementation. The allocation of progressive resources to climate change issues AT THE EXPENSE of fundamental economic issues – employment, pensions, medical access – deprives the left of its most powerful assets in the public sphere.

    Evidently you are choosing to close your eyes to the paths in which recommended policy would reduce pollution loads while improving economic justice. What would, for example, a major energy efficiency program lead to? What does efficiency standards drive? Etc …

    It is a matter of true and compleat believerism – which always rebuffs the nonbelievers or agnostics, regardless of issue.

    Here you are the one, yet again, who is rejecting science while commenting above “do not agree with much of the climate science …” You are asserting that the scientific community, writ large, is utterly corrupt against the scientific method and unwilling to understand / evaluate challenges. That shows that you are choosing to ignore the science when it comes to climate change and global warming.

    Not to mention that the overall numbers continue to head south. Bad politics – but typical of the left.

  • 6 Snippets of Stolen Emails Cannot Make the Earth Flat « Global Warming: Man or Myth? // Nov 23, 2011 at 12:13 am

    […] […]

  • 7 sailrick // Nov 23, 2011 at 2:16 am

    John Egan
    Well at least we know your good at hand waving.

    Blah, blah blah.

  • 8 John Egan // Nov 24, 2011 at 8:40 am

    Hey Sailrick –

    Based upon the standing of AGW in U.S. polls of the past few years,

    That’s right, the Republican Party has turned strongly anti-science. And, thus the general national discussion has (re polls) turned anti-science when it comes to climate change and other issues.

    based upon the 2 to 1 opposition of the Australian carbon tax – I would suggest to you that the public views the AGWers as blah, blah, blah.

    Perhaps, however, you should actually look at the polling … such as released in November 2011.

    70 percent of Americans say global warming should be a very high (12%), high (25%), or medium (33%) priority for the president and Congress, including 44 percent of registered Republicans, 72 percent of Independents and 85 percent of Democrats. …

    65 percent of Americans support a revenue-neutral carbon tax that would “help create jobs and decrease pollution,” including majorities of registered Republicans (51%), Independents (69%), and Democrats (77%).

    What you are displaying is an echo chamber for those who are rejecting science.

    Koch and all those others so focused on social and economic justice are gleeful in your embrace of their tone and terms

    So, guess who is getting the last laugh – albeit at high expense? Where’s your illustrious Copenhagen Agreement going?

    At one of the most critical junctures in the politics of the West, it is the AGWers who are fiddling – while neoliberals, reactionaries, and religious zealots are sweeping the table. Why? Because, in large part, the left spends way more time screeching about CO2 than about economic justice.

    Have you bothered, at all, to look at the real passions of those seeking to deal with climate change? Green Jobs and otherwise. Blue-Green Alliance? Environmental and economic justice are intertwined. And, in addition, what is the economic justice likely to come as climate chaos increasing devastates economic performance around the globe?

    Be prepared to see a lot more National Fronts, British National Parties, and Tea Parties. It is the direct result of the left’s abrogation of the working class.

  • 9 John Egan // Nov 24, 2011 at 6:07 pm

    AS –

    Gillard’s government will come crashing down anytime now. There is an internal dynamic which makes it nearly inevitable. The carbon tax legislation is a case in point. Gillard had to move forward on the carbon tax to retain the support of the Greens on the crossbench in the Senate – Labour needs 8 extra votes to reach 39 there.

    In the House, Labour needs 4 of the 6 crossbench votes for a majority. 2 of those are Green, but the other 4 are former Nationals – generally pissed off for personal reasons against the Lib/Nat Coalition. 2 of those 4 have supported the Labout minority government – but ideologically they are at odds with the current direction.

    The push in one direction by the Greens in the Senate and the pull in the other by former National crossbenchers will eventually rupture. Remember, Gillard’s government has a majority in NEITHER chamber.

    Given the unpopularity of the carbon tax, an early election will be devastating for Labour – – but then, I guess that doesn’t matter, eh?

  • 10 Post Watch: Balance and Absence aren’t top-flight journalism … // Dec 1, 2011 at 11:58 am

    […] Satter and Eilperin failure to demonstrate learning […]

  • 11 Zombie climate emails rise again (updated) « Scholars and Rogues // Sep 21, 2012 at 1:16 pm

    […] this so far and who aren’t deniers off in the weeds hunting snipes: Media Matters DeSmog Blog Get Energy Smart ThinkProgress Green HuffPo Climate Progress Barry Bickmore Climate Crocks UEA press release BBC […]