In the weeks leading up to the release of the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel On Climate Change's (IPCC) fifth assessment report summarizing climate science on Monday, conservative media have spread a variety of myths about the process, credibility and findings of the group. Contrary to misinformation, the report reflects that scientists are more convinced than ever that manmade climate change is real and dangerous.
After the Daily Mail falsely accused scientists of "cover[ing] up" temperature data based on leaked comments to the world's preeminent climate report, conservative media, including the Daily Caller, are once again adopting the British tabloid's misinformation verbatim. However, the comments actually showed scientists and governments making the same points privately that they have made publicly about why the slightly slower rate of warming in the last 15 years doesn't undermine the overwhelming science showing long-term climate change.
A recent Associated Press article showed that leaked private comments on the upcoming comprehensive U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report reflect what scientists have been saying publicly: despite experiencing the warmest decade on record from 2000-2010, the planet is heating up at a slightly slower rate -- but this in no way undermines the science demonstrating manmade climate change is occurring. What the AP report -- which FoxNews.com tried to turn into "Climategate II" -- described was a debate over how to best explain this to the public. During the exchange in question, representatives of various governments pointed out that cherry-picking 1998 as a starting point for global temperatures trends is misleading because that year had record warmth, and this short time period does not undermine the long-term warming trend.
Somehow, the Daily Mail used this to say that "it is claimed" that scientists producing the IPCC report "were urged to cover up the fact that the world's temperature hasn't risen for the last 15 years." The paper didn't actually provide anyone who has alleged this.
The draft report and comments also show several experts pointing out that scientists are conducting ongoing research about the extent to which this phenomenon is based on heat being trapped in the oceans or various temporary natural cooling factors in order to better project the exact future impacts of climate change.
Seeking to cast doubt on a major climate change report due later this month, Rush Limbaugh cited a widely-pilloried British tabloid for the second time in as many weeks.
On the September 17 edition of The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh attacked the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which is set to release a study affirming that scientists are more confident than ever that manmade greenhouse gas emissions are warming the planet. Declaring that climate models "have all been wrong," he read the first seven paragraphs of a recent The Mail on Sunday article purportedly to that effect, pausing to identify the IPCC as "the holding company, if you will, for all the hoax data":
Conservatives are still turning to British tabloids for their climate science, most recently treating a single year's Arctic sea ice -- which is still far below previous and long-term averages -- to claim that the region is not melting.
The latest instance of tabloid-reviewed science began when the The Mail on Sunday -- a sister newspaper to serial climate misinformer the Daily Mail* -- published an article titled "And now it's global COOLING!" suggesting that an increase in Arctic sea ice cover between September 2012 and August 2013 is among "mounting evidence that Arctic ice levels are cyclical." The story was summarily picked up by other British tabloids and a variety of conservative outlets, all to cast doubt on climate change. Notably, Rush Limbaugh used the report to claim "the Arctic ice sheet is at a record size for this time of year. They told us the ice was melting in the Arctic Ice Sheet. It's not."
Actually, Arctic sea ice is nowhere near "a record size." A graph from the National Snow & Ice Data Center (NSIDC) illustrates that 2013 Arctic sea ice extent minimum (beige line), while not as low as last year's record (dotted line), is still tracking well below the 1979-2000 average (as have the minimum extents of every year since 1997). It is on track to be the sixth-lowest in satellite annals:
As 2012 was a record low, it is not terribly surprising that 2013 looks like it will be higher. This is due to a phenomenon known as regression to the mean, eloquently illustrated by this Skeptical Science graphic:
Fox News host Brian Kilmeade's praise of a British nationalist hate group leader as doing "great" work is being criticized by that nation's journalists, who call the group "thuggish" and "unsavory."
Kilmeade drew criticism after he praised English Defence League co-founder Tommy Robinson during a June 10 interview on his Fox News Radio program. Kilmeade told Robinson "we got your back" and said, "it's great what you're doing."
Numerous U.S. outlets, including Fox News, have previously detailed the violent and fringe nature of the EDL, which has clashed with police during anti-Muslim protests.
Kilmeade's treatment of a group known for its anti-Muslim hatred did not sit well with those in the United Kingdom who have reported on EDL and Robinson.
"No great surprise but still disturbing that a Fox News extremist will cuddle up to a British hate extremist with a number of convictions for violence and who served time behind bars after he was caught trying to enter the U.S. with a false passport," Kevin Maguire, associate editor of the Daily Mirror and a political columnist, wrote in an email.
Robinson (whose real name is Stephen Lennon) used a false identity document to enter the United States to attend an anti-Islam event with anti-Islam blogger Pamela Geller. Robinson pleaded guilty and was jailed in January and released in February. His offense was not his first brush with the law.
"So we may add hypocrisy to the charge sheet against Fox," added Maguire, "when the channel demands America's borders be secure yet hails a violent man who tried to sneak into the US with somebody else's ID."
Maguire described Robinson as "thuggish" and his supporters as "Nazi-saluting followers."
Fiona Hamilton, a crime reporter for The Times of London, which is also headed by Rupert Murdoch, said of Kilmeade and others who offered supportive comments or favorable interviews to EDL, "I think they should take a closer look at what they stand for, definitely. This is a man who said he would ban the future building of mosques."
She said the group is "viewed as extremists" in the U.K., adding, "I don't think you would find a majority of Britains who would agree with the English Defence League."
John Higginson, political editor of Metro -- a free London newspaper owned by the Daily Mail parent company -- said Kilmeade's comments were a mistake.
"The BBC wouldn't say 'I've got your back.' If he is saying that, he is condoning these extremist views," Higginson said. "The EDL, some of what they're preaching is to get rid of people just on religious grounds, just being a Muslim. To be saying that, it is bad."
Tom Whitehead, security editor at The Telegraph of London, has covered the EDL and called them "a fairly extreme right-wing group" that engages in "threats and incidents of violence." He said that if a British journalist echoed Kilmeade's views, "it wouldn't be seen very favorable to all. Personally, I certainly would not condone that at all."
Right-wing media have been pushing multiple dubious claims related to the recent revelation that the IRS used inappropriate criteria to scrutinize some conservative groups seeking tax-exempt status. Media Matters has compiled five of the worst offenders.
Right-wing media are falsely claiming that excerpts of interviews with IRS employees prove that improper targeting of conservative groups applying for tax-exempt status originated from IRS supervisors in Washington, D.C. But House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa admitted on CNN that no such proof is contained in the excerpts.
David Martosko of the Daily Mail Online provided former Vice President Dick Cheney a platform to criticize the Obama administration's failure to anticipate the September 11, 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya, without noting that seven attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities occurred during the Bush administration.
In his article, Martosko quotes Cheney saying that the Obama administration's handling of the Benghazi attacks was "a failure of leadership" for not anticipating an attack on September 11, which Cheney said the Bush administration always expected following the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Martosko's interview of Cheney was promoted by the Drudge Report, Fox Nation, and Breitbart.com.
But none of these outlets promoting Cheney's opinion noted that the U.S. suffered fatal attacks on embassies and consulates during the Bush administration. Between 2002 and 2008, seven attacks on U.S. embassies and consulates took place in Pakistan, Syria, Uzbekistan, Saudi Arabia, Greece, Serbia, and Yemen.
Additionally, there have been many attacks on U.S. diplomatic targets -- including embassies -- for decades, and far more have occurred during previous administrations than under President Obama. Mother Jones put together the following graphic based on data from the State Department and the University of Maryland's National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism:
Cheney also served as Secretary of Defense during George H.W. Bush's presidency, when there were many times more attacks on U.S. diplomatic targets than under Obama.
The Obama campaign has introduced its slogan for the 2012 campaign: "Forward."
This prompted an urgent warning from the right-wing media: The word "forward" is totally socialist!
This is unspeakably stupid. The word "forward" is not socialist. It is an English word that has aspirational connotations. The Obama campaign's decision to use it is not veiled evidence that he bears allegiance to Karl Marx.
Allow me to offer some proof that the word "forward" is something other than a coded message of love for the radical left.
The right-wing media continued their pattern of encouraging people to fear Muslims by hyping a thinly sourced column in an Egyptian newspaper about a supposed proposal to legalize necrophilia. Al-Arabiya has reported that members of the Egyptian parliament are denying that any such law was ever proposed.
The Daily Mail has published a misleading smear of President Obama's father, which is being promoted by the Drudge Report:
The April 17 story from the Daily Mail is headlined "Revealed: The official fears US and Britain shared about over President Obama's 'anti-American' and 'anti-white' father":
The top of the story references birther conspiracy theories about President Obama, and it claims that Obama's father was "categorised with others as 'anti-American and anti-white' when he moved to the United States in 1959."
The Mail cites documents to support this assertion, but the article admits that the documents don't actually mention Obama's father: "Mr Obama Snr, who died in 1982, is not singled out for concern in any of the documents."
Rush Limbaugh has spent the last 20-plus years proving that he has nothing to say about women that isn't horrifically sexist and misogynistic -- his verbal assault on law student Sandra Fluke in February was just the most recent attack of many. Limbaugh continued this pattern this week by hyping a Daily Mail article claiming that a "controversial study" concluded that "the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married." But the Daily Mail's interpretation of the study is bogus.
The study (payment required) in question, published in the April 2 edition of the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, was actually titled, "Sex Ratio and Women's Career Choice: Does a Scarcity of Men Lead Women to Choose Briefcase Over Baby?" The study found that in geographic regions of the U.S. with "a scarcity of men," women were more likely to "seek high-paying careers and to delay starting a family."
Here's the Daily Mail's interpretation of the study: "Do girls only want a career because they can't attract a man? Provocative study casts high fliers in a new light." The article under that headline went on:
Forget ambition, financial security and that first-class degree.
A controversial study has concluded that the real reason women pursue careers is because they fear they are too unattractive to get married.
The research team, made up of three women and two men, said that when men are thin on the ground, 'women are more likely to choose briefcase over baby'.
The article also said the study found that the "plainer a woman is," "the more she is driven to succeed in the workplace," and that "[c]entral" to the study's "argument was the idea that women have evolved to become homemakers and men, providers."
Of course, Limbaugh couldn't resist a story like that.
The Daily Mail is a British tabloid that has repeatedly misrepresented climate research. Naturally, it is also one of Fox News' chief sources on climate science.
Last week the Daily Mail ran a story headlined: "Is this finally proof we're NOT causing global warming? The whole of the Earth heated up in medieval times without human CO2 emissions, says new study." Fox Nation ran a Newsmax summary of the article under the headline "Study Refutes Manmade Warming."
The Daily Mail, along with Newsmax, Fox, and other conservative media, distorted the very research they are trumpeting. The study's lead author, Professor Zunli Lu, said his paper "has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets" and "does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend."
It is unfortunate that my research, "An ikaite record of late Holocene climate at the Antarctic Peninsula," recently published in Earth and Planetary Science Letters, has been misrepresented by a number of media outlets.
Several of these media articles assert that our study claims the entire Earth heated up during medieval times without human CO2 emissions. We clearly state in our paper that we studied one site at the Antarctic Peninsula. The results should not be extrapolated to make assumptions about climate conditions across the entire globe. Other statements, such as the study "throws doubt on orthodoxies around global warming," completely misrepresent our conclusions. Our study does not question the well-established anthropogenic warming trend.
Lu also told Peter Sinclair that "The reporter of that Daily Mail article published it anyway, after we told him the angle that he chose misrepresents our work." If this reflects poorly on the quality of journalism at the Daily Mail, what does it say about outlets like Fox who simply parrot the tabloid's inaccurate reports?
After the British tabloid Daily Mail published a flawed article that distorted climate research to claim we could be "heading for a mini ice age," conservative media followed suit. In fact, the study did not project a decline in global temperatures.
Right-wing media are once again attacking President Obama over his vacations, this time for planning a "staggering" 17-day holiday trip to Hawaii. But vacations of that length are not unprecedented; President Reagan took a 25-day vacation in August 1983, and President George W. Bush took 27-day and 25-day vacations in August 2001 and August 2002, respectively.