It never rains but it pours. You would think climate experts would know that. Clearly, they don’t. Instead, supposed climate scientists have been caught in a storm of their own making over documents released onto the Web raising huge questions about how global warming “science” has been done.
At issue is an enormous dump of data from the University of East Anglia’s Climate Research Unit that was leaked or hacked and placed online. The data included more than 1,000 e-mails – many of them back-and-forth communications among prominent scientists. The private e-mails showed potentially unethical or illegal behavior and a possible conspiracy to distort science for political gain. That scary list includes plans to avoid freedom of information requests, efforts to delete data and discussions of ways to intimidate the peer review process of scientific publications.
But the broadcast networks haven’t bothered with the story.
Phil Jones, head of the climate unit, stepped aside temporarily for an investigation. Climate scientist Michael Mann, one of the originators of the famous "hockey stick graph," is being investigated by Penn State as well. Republicans on Capitol Hill are calling for an overall investigation into the scandal.
And the network news media have been hiding in the storm cellar, hoping this one blows over. Only it isn’t going away. It’s now been 13 days since the story hit the news and despite network censors, the Climate-gate scandal is turning up the heat on global warming advocates. What started as a drizzle of stories in The New York Times and Washington Post is growing into an Internet flood that is sweeping along traditional news outlets from CNN to NPR.
But morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC have remained absolutely silent. Both ABC and CBS's Web sites have covered the issue -- standard practice when networks want to bury a story but pretend otherwise. The only mention of the scandal actually on those networks was on ABC’s Sunday morning talk show: “This Week with George Stephanopoulos.”
That’s all. President Barack Obama is heading to Copenhagen, Denmark next week to promote a pact to reduce greenhouse gases that impacts every one of the 6.7 billion people on earth and the networks continue to cover for him on Climate-gate.
What have the networks reported on? Tiger Woods, of course. Since he ran his car into a fire hydrant and crashed into a tree, the golf superstar has been covered by roughly 40 stories on the big three networks. Tiger’s extramarital putting around was one of the most important stories of the day – above a scandal that journalists would ordinarily embrace. -- If conservatives were involved in it.
Remember how much the media loved it when the Bush administration was accused of editing climate change documents? NBC anchor Brian Williams led the Jan. 30, 2007 edition of the “Nightly News” with this tough question: “Did the Bush administration in any way try to cook the books on the topic of global warming?” Now the better question in 2009 is did Brian Williams and his fellow network anchors try to do the same?
No, their reporting was completely honest. They focused on the real news of an orphaned moose and the meal selection at the president’s state dinner. Even the November 25 reports about Obama going to Copenhagen ignored Climate-gate.
But ABC, CBS and NBC no longer rule the media landscape. Twitter has been flooded with Tweets about the scandal. And even lefty class clown Jon Stewart played weatherman and media critic recently. Stewart mocked the climate scientists for destroying data and for relying on “value added data.” “Global warming completely debunked via the very Internet you invented. OH. OH the irony,” he joked. Though he blasted global warming skeptics, he still went on to criticize the scientists who sent the scandalous e-mails. “Why would you throw out raw data from the ’80s? I still have Penthouses from the ’70s! Laminated. What did you keep?”
While Stewart might appear to be a just a comedian to many Americans, his message reaches a broad coalition of left-wing voters both young and influential. When the lefty group ACORN got into trouble over hidden camera video showing what appeared to be employees helping a pimp and hooker try to set up a brothel, Stewart’s scathing critique was the last straw. Soon after his bit on ACORN, the organization announced a major investigation of itself.
Stewart is a bit ahead of the game this time, but the skies look bleak for the global warming alarmists. Maybe because what’s in the e-mails is so embarrassingly bad. Here are a couple examples:
From Kevin Trenberth to Michael Mann and others including James Hansen and Michael Oppenheimer in Oct. 2009:
“The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate.”
From Jones to Raymond Bradley, Malcolm Hughes and Michael Mann on Feb. 21, 2005:
“PS: I’m getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don’t any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!”
A May 2009 e-mail from Jones allegedly told Mann to delete e-mails regarding the Fourth IPCC draft and said Keith and Caspar would also delete the correspondence.
I agree with Trenberth, the whole thing is a “travesty.” One of the now famous comments from the e-mails was from Jones to Mann and appeared to indicate manipulation of scientific data. Jones wrote:
“I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [Sic] from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline.”
“Hide the decline” is such a memorable term that it has been enshrined in song in a humorous video by Minnesotans for Global Warming that has been seen by 330,000 YouTube users.
The controversy is already having public policy impact. According to Reuters, “Australia's parliament rejected laws to set up a carbon trading scheme.”
All of this controversy would be a blow to global warming alarmists any time. For all of this to happen just days before the Copenhagen summit, is a stunning setback. No matter how little network coverage this gets from journalists more obsessed with Tiger’s scoring, this is the big scandal of 2009.
It is also just one more example of the mainstream media hiding the big news of the day from the American public. We’ve had ACORN and Van Jones and now Climate-gate. But try as they may, network journalists can’t “hide the decline” in global warming science or a similar “decline” in journalism standards causing their own ethically bankrupt actions.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and the Media Research Center’s Vice President for Business and Culture. His column appears each week on The Fox Forum and he can be seen on Foxnews.com’s “Strategy Room.” He can also be contacted on Facebook and Twitter as dangainor.