In a February 14 post, the climate scientists at RealClimate.org addressed the media coverage of recent allegations that errors in the IPCC's 2007 report discredit the UN panel and undermine climate science:
To those familiar with the science and the IPCC's work, the current media discussion is in large part simply absurd and surreal. Journalists who have never even peeked into the IPCC report are now outraged that one wrong number appears on page 493 of Volume 2. We've met TV teams coming to film a report on the IPCC reports' errors, who were astonished when they held one of the heavy volumes in hand, having never even seen it. They told us frankly that they had no way to make their own judgment; they could only report what they were being told about it. And there are well-organized lobby forces with proper PR skills that make sure these journalists are being told the "right" story. That explains why some media stories about what is supposedly said in the IPCC reports can easily be falsified simply by opening the report and reading. Unfortunately, as a broad-based volunteer effort with only minimal organizational structure the IPCC is not in a good position to rapidly counter misinformation.
One near-universal meme of the media stories on the Himalaya mistake was that this was "one of the most central predictions of the IPCC" - apparently in order to make the error look more serious than it was. However, this prediction does not appear in any of the IPCC Summaries for Policy Makers, nor in the Synthesis Report (which at least partly explains why it went unnoticed for years). None of the media reports that we saw properly explained that Volume 1 (which is where projections of physical climate changes belong) has an extensive and entirely valid discussion of glacier loss.
What apparently has happened is that interested quarters, after the Himalyan glacier story broke, have sifted through the IPCC volumes with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to find more embarrassing errors. They have actually found precious little, but the little they did find was promptly hyped into Seagate, Africagate, Amazongate and so on. This has some similarity to the CRU email theft, where precious little was discovered from among thousands of emails, but a few sentences were plucked out of context, deliberately misinterpreted (like "hide the decline") and then hyped into "Climategate".
As lucidly analysed by Tim Holmes, there appear to be a few active leaders of this misinformation parade in the media. Jonathan Leake is carrying the ball on this, but his stories contain multiple errors, misrepresentations and misquotes. There also is a sizeable contingent of me-too journalism that is simply repeating the stories but not taking the time to form a well-founded view on the topics. Typically they report on various "allegations", such as these against the IPCC, similar to reporting that the CRU email hack lead to "allegations of data manipulation". Technically it isn't even wrong that there were such allegations. But isn't it the responsibility of the media to actually investigate whether allegations have any merit before they decide to repeat them?
Overall then, the IPCC assessment reports reflect the state of scientific knowledge very well. There have been a few isolated errors, and these have been acknowledged and corrected. What is seriously amiss is something else: the public perception of the IPCC, and of climate science in general, has been massively distorted by the recent media storm. All of these various "gates" - Climategate, Amazongate, Seagate, Africagate, etc., do not represent scandals of the IPCC or of climate science. Rather, they are the embarrassing battle-cries of a media scandal, in which a few journalists have misled the public with grossly overblown or entirely fabricated pseudogates, and many others have naively and willingly followed along without seeing through the scam. It is not up to us as climate scientists to clear up this mess - it is up to the media world itself to put this right again, e.g. by publishing proper analysis pieces like the one of Tim Holmes and by issuing formal corrections of their mistaken reporting. We will follow with great interest whether the media world has the professional and moral integrity to correct its own errors.
The RealClimate scientists single out the British media, but as Media Matters has repeatedly shown, American media outlets are more than willing to forgo serious evaluation of false and misleading claims about climate science. Indeed, today the Wall Street Journal editorial board asserted that IPCC's reports "are sloppy political documents intended to drive the climate lobby's regulatory agenda." To support this claim, the Journal cited "news that an IPCC claim that global warming could destroy 40% of the Amazon was based on a report by an environmental pressure group." The editorial further stated:
Take the rain forest claim. In its 2007 report, the IPCC wrote that "up to 40% of the Amazonian forests could react drastically to even a slight reduction in precipitation; this means that the tropical vegetation, hydrology and climate system in South America could change very rapidly to another steady state."
But as Jonathan Leake of London's Sunday Times reported last month, those claims were based on a report from the World Wildlife Fund, which in turn had fundamentally misrepresented a study in the journal Nature. The Nature study, Mr. Leake writes, "did not assess rainfall but in fact looked at the impact on the forest of human activity such as logging and burning."
In fact, as the RealClimate scientists explain in their post, the IPCC's statement on the sensitivity of much of the Amazonian forests is supported by peer-reviewed studies. And Daniel Nepstad, the author of several of these studies has stated that "the IPCC statement on the Amazon was correct," a fact that never had a chance with readers of the Journal editorial. The IPCC citation was incomplete, but the "rain forest claim" itself was correct. This is the kind of information that a responsible media would provide.
RealClimate.org offers a rundown of "errors -and supposed errors" alleged to have been included in the IPCC report. It is required reading for journalists and media figures covering this issue.
Oh brother. It's been a whole year and still Beltway deep thinkers in the press remain committed to unique narrative that it's Obama's job -- and his alone
And yes, Halperin this week repeats the same Beltway-approved talking points that pundits have been recycling for 12 months now. (I want that job!)
Note the headline [emphasis added]:
Can Obama Rebuild Bipartisan Trust in Washington?
Also note the key phrase that Halperin, like virtually every other corporate media observer, avoids when describing the GOP strategy: "Obstructionist." It's the noun That Cannot Be Mentioned.
But at least Halperin's painfully naive closing provides an unintended chuckle:
Obama needs to conduct some sort of face-to-face intervention with amenable senior Republican legislators, to convince them that it is possible to make a deal in one or two important areas without agreeing on every issue or laying down their arms for the next election. He needs to remind his adversaries that the purpose of government, ultimately, is to improve the lives of the American people, that its leaders - whether in the majority or the minority - shouldn't want to be part of a system that inspires so little faith. And that, friends or not, the only way to build back the trust of the American people is to start to trust each other, if only a little bit.
OMG, why didn't the White House think of this?! According to Halperin, all Obama has to do is ask some "amenable" GOP leaders for their cooperation. Obama just needs to appeal to their sense of duty and responsibility.
And voila! Problem solved.
Richard Cohen, the ostensibly-liberal, pro-torture, rapist-defending Washington Post columnist who famously sneered that "only a fool or possibly a Frenchman" could fail to agree with the Bush administration's case for going to war in Iraq, accuses unspecified liberals of thinking "America is usually at fault in war":
The first linkage I can find of Palin with Poujade came in a Jonathan Raban article in the London Review of Books. Since then (2008) there have been others -- about 1,420 hits on Google -- and most recently a Feb. 2 essay in the New York Times by Robert Zaretsky, a professor of French history. He noted some differences between the Poujadists and the Tea Party folk and between Poujade and Palin, but he nevertheless found they had quite a bit in common. "The Poujadist movement . . . bears a close resemblance to our own Tea Party." It was this statement that ricochets yet.
For some on the left, there was something oddly comforting in such a linkage. It validated their gloomy view of America as a country always about to veer to the hard right. It is a country I do not recognize, but never mind. To these leftists, America is usually at fault in war, greedy in commerce and controlled by either the plutocrats of Wall Street or the Babbitts of Main Street.
That's a line you'd expect Dick Cheney to write, but it comes instead from (allegedly liberal) Washington Post columnist Richard Cohen. And Howard Kurtz thinks the Post's opinion pages lean left.
The Washington Post devotes an entire article to a gathering of conservative leaders that hasn't happened yet but that will purportedly unveil a "a manifesto for a growing movement against the political establishment" that organizers bill as "a declaration of conservative values and beliefs."
Here's the closest the Post comes to indicating what the "manifesto" actually says:
"We don't talk about specific issues or parties or the current political situation,'' said Alfred S. Regnery, publisher of the American Spectator magazine. He helped draft the statement as part of the Conservative Action Project, a new group seeking to coordinate the chorus of voices. "It's a philosophical foundation, based on the concept of constitutional conservatism. It's written so most conservatives can say, 'Yeah, this is just what I think.' "
Ahead of Wednesday's meeting, organizers released only an excerpt of the two-page document. It says in part, "The federal government today ignores the limits of the Constitution, which is increasingly dismissed as obsolete and irrelevant. . . . The change we urgently need, a change consistent with the American ideal, is not movement away from but toward our founding principles.'' (Ellipsis in original)
Ok ... What does that even mean? Nothing. It's so broad it could be read as the "philosophical foundation" for just about anything. Take this part, for example: "the federal government today ignores the limits of the constitution." What is that, an indication that Al Regnery and his buddies are ready to come out against Don't Ask, Don't Tell, DOMA, and restrictions on reproductive rights? No, I guess it probably isn't. When your "declaration of conservative values and beliefs" is a statement that could just as easily be read as a criticism of conservative policies, that's a pretty good sign that the declaration isn't worth the paper it's printed on.
Nothing in the Post's article constitutes an idea, or even a principle, really -- platitudes aren't principles. It seems that if you're a conservative, you don't need ideas to get a write-up in the Washington Post -- you just need to announce that you're going to announce some ideas. Someday. And they'll be great.
Remember after Andrew Breitbart's protégé James O'Keefe was arrested in New Orleans, and Breitbart confirmed that he paid O'Keefe a "fair salary"? (Even though, Breitbart stressed, he had no advanced knowledge of the New Orleans caper.) Well, now Breitbart has a new spin.
From blogger Brad Friedman [emphasis original]:
During a recent live appearance on the Internet radio show African-American Conservatives (AACONS), Breitbart was asked about his ongoing relationship with James O'Keefe. O'Keefe was recently arrested in Louisiana, along with three others (one the son of the acting U.S. Attorney), for allegedly heading up a scheme to "maliciously interfere" with the telephone system of Democratic U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu.
He's "technically not salaried," Breitbart told AACONS host Marie Stroughter during the interview last week, in reply to her question about O'Keefe.
This is getting confusing. Breitbart pays O'Keefe a "salary," although technically it's not really a salary. And even though Breitbart pays O'Keefe some sort of non-salary, Breitbart has no idea what kinds of stories O'Keefe is working on.
Question: Are Breitbart's financial backers at all concerned by his lackadaisical management style?
At least 80 advertisers have reportedly dropped their ads from Glenn Beck's Fox News program since he called President Obama a "racist" who has a "deep-seated hatred for white people." Here are his February 15 sponsors, in the order they appeared:
No, Los Angeles Times blogger Andrew Malcolm (R-CA) -- a former Bush press secretary -- won't mention Sarah Palin's recent lousy poll numbers. But that isn't to say Malcolm doesn't have anything to say about Palin and polls:
February 14, 2010 | 6:08 pm
In a telephone poll that had nothing to do with conservatives' favorite sweetheart, Sarah Palin, Rasmussen Reports reports that one of the year's more important holidays in terms of domestic politics is dreaded by a substantial minority.
BTW, Palin and husband Todd were apart on Valentine's Day, she working the Daytona 500 NASCAR crowd in Florida, he back in Alaska preparing for the Iron Dog snow-machine race.
-- Andrew Malcolm
So, after spinning Palin's poll numbers to make them look better than they are (to the point of misstating them so badly the Times had to post a correction) and shoe-horning them into blog posts having nothing to do with Palin, Malcolm went silent on the topic of Palin polling once her numbers got too bad for even him to spin. But now he's back with a weird post about a Rasmussen poll about Valentine's Day that has literally nothing to do with Sarah Palin -- and, inexplicably, he puts Palin in the headline and lede, and inserts a line about Palin being apart from her husband on Valentine's Day.
This is getting sad. And maybe a little creepy.
Sometimes, it's like Howard Kurtz doesn't even try to do his job. Check out this passage from the Washington Post media critic's profile of Rachel Maddow:
[S]he rejects the notion that she's explicitly pushing for change: "I think of it more in the tradition of muckraking. A lot of the best reporting since time immemorial has been driven by outrage about things not being the way they should be, by the shock at shameless, lying hypocrisy."
She adds: "For me it's a question of whether you're doing advocacy journalism or not. It's not activism -- you see a lot of that at Fox, using news coverage to inspire political participation."
Asked for comment, a Fox spokesperson says, "These feelings that she experienced about Fox News didn't stop her from applying for a job here."
Wait, what? A Fox spokesperson says Rachel Maddow applied for a job at Fox News? What does that mean? How long ago? What were the circumstances? Howard Kurtz doesn't explain; he just leaves it there. That's more than a little odd, particularly since the claim is meant to impugn Maddow's credibility.
Fortunately, Politico's Michael Calderone finished Kurtz's job for him:
So did Maddow, former Air America host and now a star of MSNBC's liberal prime-time line-up, really apply to work at Fox News?
"I never personally applied for a job at Fox," Maddow tells POLITICO in an email. "I have an agent who I assume talks to everyone on my behalf, so I have no reason to believe that Fox's claim that they were approached on my behalf is false, even if I never knew anything about it at the time."
So ... Yeah. It doesn't exactly sound like Maddow was stopping by Fox HQ twice a week to fill out applications and ask for an interview, does it? Actually, Maddow's version doesn't sound like anything that is typically meant by "applying for a job," which suggests that the Fox flak's statement to Kurt was quite misleading. Good thing -- for Fox, that is -- Kurtz didn't ask for an explanation.
Here's the daily's peculiar headline:
Biden bickers with Cheney across TV airwaves
Well, that doesn't sound good, does it? But according to the daily it was Biden who was bickering. It was the VP, to use the working definition, who "engaged in a petulant and peevish argument" with Cheney.
Really USA Today? That's how you describe what Biden did on the Sunday talk shows? Becuase I'd suggest the far more accurate description is Biden defended the administration from Cheney's latest bout of incessant attacks. It was Biden who responded and fact-checked Cheney.
Oh, and which man had the facts on his side during Biden's bickering? USA Today doesn't inform readers about that. USA Today just transcribes the back-and-forth and then places the onus on Biden for the unsightly bickering.
Newsbuters associate editor Noel Sheppard blows the lid off ... uh ... something:
President Obama's Official Twitterer Connected To MoveOn.org
Sun, 02/14/2010 - 16:06 ET
The woman that poses as Barack Obama on all his social networking websites such as Facebook, MySpace, and Twitter is connected to the far-left organization MoveOn.org.
See, it seems that Mia Cambronero, a DNC staffer who updates Twitter and Facebook accounts in Barack Obama's name, used to be a fellow at New Organizing Institute, which has ties to Move On. Shocking, isn't it? Sheppard thinks so:
And this is what the person acting as the President's Twitterer used to be affiliated with.
Color me unsurprised not only that this is the case, but that so-called journalists in the mainstream media haven't reported it.
Yeah, I bet Bob Woodward is kicking himself for getting scooped on this one.
Sweetness & Light, the right-wing blog Sheppard cites for this stunning scoop, describes Cambronero as "a NOI Fellow." Apparently that didn't sound damning enough for Sheppard, who embellished it a bit: "Our friends at Sweetness & Light have discovered that she is a senior fellow at the New Organizing Institute." Did Sheppard think that made this incredibly mundane discovering more damning? (It doesn't.) Or did he just misread the blog post? (The Sweetness & Light blog post also insists "Ms. Cambronero's resemblance to Mr. Obama is quite startling," and a previous post snarked "it is quite telling that Mr. Obama hired a girl to sound like him." I have no idea what that hire was supposed to "tell," but this should give you some sense of the kind of people we're dealing with here.)
Another right-wing blog, FireAndreaMitchell.com, then further embellished Sheppard's account in a post titled "Your tax dollars at work - Obama's Official Twitterer is Mia Cambronero who is connected To Soros's MoveOn.org."
Just one problem: Cambronero works for the Democratic National Committee, not the White House. Your tax dollars don't have anything to do with it. (Not that there would be anything wrong with a government employee having a gig working for Move On as a line on her resume.)
Apparently, being a right-wing blogger is easier than reading.