In yet another example of what County Fair's own Eric Boehlert described as the press awakening from its slumber "just in time to aggressively press the new Democratic administration," the NYT's controversial science reporter John Tierney --American Progress' Joe Romm called him "easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country"-- has written a column and two blog posts in the last couple of weeks fretting about the kind of advice President Obama might receive from some of his science advisors, most specifically John Holdren (Obama's pick for Science Advisor) and Steven Chu (Obama's Secretary of Energy). If you find it odd that a journalist who did little to no reporting on the widespread and well documented distortion of science and the scientific process during the George W. Bush administration would suddenly find it important to write about the politicization of science in Washington, you are not alone.
After his January 23 column, "Politics in the Guise of Pure Science," Tierney noted that he was asked by critics "[w]hy start worrying now about scientists pushing a political agenda" and isn't it disingenuous "to worry about the politicization of science now instead of during the Bush administration?" In his own defense he writes: "I agree that there were lots of attempts to use science for political ends during the Bush years. I wrote about some of the questionable claims by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House drug czar's office." So, while the Bush administration was busy placing unqualified political appointees in scientific positions, muzzling agency scientists, ignoring scientific findings when making federal health and environmental rules, manipulating the scientific advisory system in favor of ideology and industry, and editing reports in way that distorted scientific data, Tierney wrote about some "questionable claims" by the DEA and White House drug czar. Got it.
And just why is Tierney now concerned about "honest science"? Have Holdren or Chu been accused or found guilty of distorting scientific evidence or manipulating the scientific process for political purposes? No, Tierney is "concern[ed] about some of the debating tactics used by Dr. Holdren and his allies" early in Holdren's career, back in the 70s and 80s. Tierney's also concerned that Holdren, as Tierney sees it, has a "tendency to conflate the science of climate change with prescriptions to cut greenhouse emissions." According to Tierney, "There are other ways to cope, and there's no 'scientific consensus' on which path looks best." Of course, Joe Romm -- an actual scientist, as opposed someone like Tierney, who "always wanted to be a scientist but went into journalism because its peer-review process was a great deal easier to sneak through,"-- has noted that the idea that climate change science does not suggest the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is just absurd.
As for Chu, Tierney cites one comment that Chu made in an interview with the Los Angeles times where he suggested that the effects of climate change could reduce the snow pack in the mountains of California to such an extent that there could be "no more agriculture in California," making it difficult to "keep their cities going." While Chu's comment may strike some as going beyond what the available science would allow us to predict with any degree of certainty, Tierney failed to mention that Chu reportedly was describing a worst case scenario or that the LAT reported that "[a] pair of recent studies raise similar warnings." Moreover, Chu's singular comment hardly provides evidence that we should be worried about whether Chu and other advisors give Obama "realistic plans for dealing with global warming and other threats." But it's good to see that Tierney has his watchful eye on the use of science in Washington, this time around.
Eagerly adopting the latest media spin (spoon-fed by Rush, of course), Scherer claims it's Democrats who have created the Limbaugh controversy.
Really? It's Democrats who sparked the internal debate within the GOP about Limbaugh's role in the movement? It's Democrats who elevated Limbaugh to leadership status? It's Democrats who prompted Limbaugh to say all kinds of controversial and hateful things in recent weeks? It's Democrats who told Fox News to broadcast Limbaugh's 80-minute speech Saturday night? It's Democrats who forced the GOP chief to bow down to Limbaugh on Monday? And it's Democrats who turned Limbaugh into a laughing stock?
Who knew Democrats were so powerful?
As one astute Time commenter notes:
GIVE ME A BREAK. The White House has spent a total of maybe 20 minutes on Rush in the last week. The Republicans are the ones causing their own meltdown.
UPDATE: And apparently it's Democrats who convinced conservative columnist Kathleen Parker to write yet another MSM column about Limbaugh ("Rush to the Wrong Choice"). How do Democrats do it?
Here's how the Wall Street Journal describes the findings of a new WSJ/NBC poll:
The president's support, while still deep, looks increasingly partisan as Republicans move away from him.
The Journal doesn't provide Obama's approval ratings among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, so it's hard to say for certain, but it sure looks like it would be more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is increasingly partisan.
That is to say: if Democrats and independents generally approve of Obama, and Republicans generally disapprove, it's more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is partisan than to say support for him is.
Compare and contrast these two online headlines today.
"Obama's rating at all-time high"
"Support for Obama, but Challenges Await"
And Check out the leads. From MSNBC [emphasis added]:
After Barack Obama's first six weeks as president, the American public's attitudes about the two political parties couldn't be more different, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. Despite the country's struggling economy and vocal opposition to some of his policies, President Obama's favorability rating is at an all-time high. Two-thirds feel hopeful about his leadership and six in 10 approve of the job he's doing in the White House.
President Barack Obama enjoys robust support from the American public, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests potential bumps ahead for his ambitious domestic agenda.
Note how MSNBC simply reports the results of the poll, which are rather amazing (by 48-20 percent the public thinks Dems are better handling the economy than GOP), whereas CNBC downplays the results and looks ahead to what problems could await Obama.
In fact, one half of John Harwood's CNBC article is about what might go wrong for Obama. Harwood though, is mum about the fact that the poll finds the GOP's favorability at an all-time low.
UPDATE: Let's look at how WSJ reported the polling results. Here's its headline:
"Obama Gets Strong Support in Poll"
And it lead:
President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates. He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.
Like MSNBC, the Journal reports the obvious news angle about the polling data. Only CNBC seems preoccupied with stressing what might go wrong for Obama.
Editor's Note: Yesterday ABC News published a version of this story which some readers felt did not provide a comprehensive enough analysis of Obama's tax code for those families making $250k or more. ABCNews.com has heard those concerns and after review has decided to post an updated version of the story below.
The problem with the original article wasn't really that it failed to "provide a comprehensive enough analysis of Obama's tax code," it was that the article gave the false impression that an individual's entire income is taxed at the highest rate for which the individual qualifies.
There are problems with the second draft, but it is much better than the first, and a welcome acknowledgment that the first was deeply flawed. Check it out here.
From a March 4 Washington Times editorial:
Driving snow froze the hopes of organizers of "the biggest global warming protest in history" Monday in Washington. With the government on a two-hour snow delay and the speaker of the House unable to attend because her flight was grounded by inclement weather, shivering protestors gathered on the west front of the Capitol, the latest victims of a climatological phenomenon known by the scientific community as the Gore Effect.
The Gore Effect was first noticed during a January 2004 global warming rally in New York City, held during one of the coldest days in the city's history. Since then, evidence has mounted of a correlation between global warming activism and severely cold weather.
A year ago a congressional media briefing on the Bingaman/Specter Climate Bill was cancelled due to a cold snap. In October 2008 London saw the first snow since 1922 while the House of Commons debated the Climate Change Bill. That same month Al Gore's appearance at Harvard University coincided with low temperatures that challenged 125-year records. Tellingly, the average global temperature for each of the 366 days in 2008 was below the average for Jan. 24, 2006, the date Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was released at the Sundance Film Festival.
Critics claim the Gore Effect is mere coincidence, though one could also argue that coincidence is also the basis for the anthropogenic theory of climate change. Alternative theories, e.g., citing the influence of sun spot activity, have gained increasing credence as scientists have noted global warming in recent years on other planets, which presumably have been human-free. Significant data issues have also arisen, such as the recent discovery of a chunk of Arctic sea ice the size of California that satellites had missed (but which in all probability had been known to polar bears).
Joel Lovell, who writes a money column for GQ, isn't so sure. Lovell recently confessed in the pages of the WashPost that most of the media's money experts (including himself) don't really have a clue about what people should do with their money. And that's especially true for the CNBC crew:
I'm comforted by the fact that last March, just days before Bear Stearns stock became worthless, Jim Cramer's head nearly exploded off his shoulders, so intense was his conviction that his viewers should NOT. SELL. BEAR. But what I don't understand is the hundreds of thousands of people who still tune in every night to hear what he has to say...It's weird and disconcerting that after all that has happened there are still so many experts out there willing to dispense wisdom with utter assuredness, day after day, despite having been so spectacularly wrong in the past.
Last week, Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt said that if people don't like George Will using the Post's op-ed page to spread global warming misinformation, they should debate him rather than expect the Post to stop publishing the misinformation.
Well, Chris Mooney has submitted an op-ed refuting Will's claims. It will be interesting to see if Hiatt runs Mooney's column.
Either way, though, Mooney makes clear we'll see the column "in some form no matter what, this I promise."
Earlier today, Media Matters posted an item about Newt Gingrich spreading falsehoods on the social networking website Twitter. The former Speaker, responding to an observation by his wife Callista, falsely claimed that there had been "no [oil] spill since 1969" in waters off the Santa Barbara coast in California:
In a Twitter post, Newt Gingrich falsely claimed that there have been no oil spills in the waters off Santa Barbara since 1969. In fact, there were at least two oil spills reported in or near the Santa Barbara Channel in just the last few months, according to the U.S. Coast Guard.
Well, it looks like Gingrich didn't like being called out for his Twittery falsehood. Steve Everley, a research assistant over at the American Enterprise Institute has a post up on Newt's American Solutions blog defending the former Speaker.
Everley suggests in his response that Media Matters misrepresented what the Associated Press reported on February 18 regarding an oil spill off of the southern California coast. Everley writes (his emphasis):
The second "oil spill" mentioned was actually light lubricant oil mixed with a soap used to clean the platforms. It was not crude oil as the MMFA report implied.
In fact, Media Matters included this very information quoting the following directly from the AP's report:
A mixture of oily lubricant and water was still leaking from an ExxonMobil platform two days after the first report of a spill off the Southern California coast, federal and state officials said Wednesday.
Moreover, in his ten paragraph response to the Media Matters item in question, Everley acknowledges that there was at least one oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, though he attempts to explain it away saying "its impact was virtually non-existent."
In other words, Newt said there had been NO oil spills since 1969 and Everley responded that there had been an oil spill in February…but that spill wasn't too significant.
Significant or not, Everley's defense only serves to undermine Newt's original tweet.
By the way, if you use Twitter, you should really be following Media Matters.