Memo to Post: If George Will quotes a lie, it’s still a lie
When New York Times columnist Tom Friedman called upon “young Americans” to “get a million people on the Washington Mall calling for a price on carbon,” another columnist, Mark Steyn, responded: “If you’re 29, there has been no global warming for your entire adult life. If you’re graduating high school, there has been no global warming since you entered first grade.”
There are lies, damn lies, Breakthrough Institute statistics, and then — at the very bottom, where you find the crap that is really hard to scrape off — George Will columns, like the one quoted above. Since the senior editors at the Washington Post continue to publish his long-debunked falsehoods with no caveat whatsoever, one can only assume that they mindlessly endorse every single word of bullshit he writes — and that they hold their readers and letter writers in utter disdain.
When we last left Will and the Post in April, they were once again repeating the disinformation that the globe hasn’t warmed in over a decade — even though they had just published a letter from the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) blasting them for this very “misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge” (see “The Washington Post, abandoning any journalistic standards, lets George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages“).
Will is not inaccurately quoting WMO this time — he is just accurately quoting disinformation from the National Review, repeating the long-debunked myth that “there has been no global warming” for 11 years. Yet the definitive global temperature record from U.S. climate experts would be that of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center, which says the warmest year on record was 2005 — not 1998 (see here). See also “Very warm 2008 makes this the hottest decade in recorded history by far.”
So by failing to put in any caveats or explanation, the Washington Post has managed to let George Will publish the same two outrageous lies in one sentence that two previous letters to the editor had already debunked (see “Washington Post publishes two strong debunkings of George Will’s double dose of disinformation“) — a journalistic first that editorial page editor Fred Hiatt can be proud of, if no one else. Perhaps Hiatt will now publish three letters debunking Will, and then let Will publish three versions of the falsehood.
Let me come back to the caveats. First, let’s note another falsehood that Will and the Post publish in the final paragraph:
Which could explain why the Mall does not reverberate with youthful clamors about carbon. And why, regarding climate change, the U.S. government, rushing to impose unilateral cap-and-trade burdens on the sagging U.S. economy, looks increasingly like someone who bought a closetful of platform shoes and bell-bottom slacks just as disco was dying.
[Note to young folks: George Will and Fred Hiatt and the WashPost would seem to be mocking your commitment to climate action.]
Hmm. Seems like the pantaloons-wearing George Will and Fred Hiatt and the WashPost have never heard of something called the Kyoto protocol, in which all the other rich countries in the world agreed to “unilaterally” impose emissions reductions on themselves — indeed, they went forward with the reductions even after the United States refused to do anything. And the Europeans in particular “unilaterally” imposed a cap-and-trade system on themselves to meet the target (see “Europe poised to meet Kyoto target: Does this mean the much-maligned European Trading System is a success?“). And yet this article explicitly states “On to Copenhagen!” — whose goal is a followup to Kyoto — so it would seem the author does know he’s spreading falsehoods.
But the disinformation machine that goes by the name of the Washington Post editorial page doesn’t mind letting its hundreds of thousands of readers believe the United States is the only country in the planet doing anything (or, in this case, thinking of doing something). Nor does it mind letting its readers believe that public posturing by developing countries like China actually represents an accurate statement of what they are doing or are prepared to do.
But given the many self-inflicted wounds that Hiatt and Will have delivered to the Washington Post, I guess the other senior editors at the paper are suffering from some version of battered spouse syndrome, whereby they just can’t bear to let go of those who are slowly crushing the life out of their journalistic integrity.
I will end by reposting what the Post itself published from the WMO Secretary General (here):
Data collected over the past 150 years by the 188 members of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) through observing networks of tens of thousands of stations on land, at sea, in the air and from constellations of weather and climate satellites lead to an unequivocal conclusion: The observed increase in global surface temperatures is a manifestation of global warming. Warming has accelerated particularly in the past 20 years.
It is a misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge to point to one year as the warmest on record – as was done in a recent Post column [by Will] – and then to extrapolate that cooler subsequent years invalidate the reality of global warming and its effects.
The difference between climate variability and climate change is critical, not just for scientists or those engaging in policy debates about warming. Just as one cold snap does not change the global warming trend, one heat wave does not reinforce it. Since the beginning of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen 1.33 degrees Fahrenheit.
Evidence of global warming has been documented in widespread decreases in snow cover, sea ice and glaciers. The 11 warmest years on record occurred in the past 13 years.
While variations occur throughout the temperature record, shorter-term variations do not contradict the overwhelming long-term increase in global surface temperatures since 1850, when reliable meteorological recordkeeping began. Year to year, we may observe in some parts of the world colder or warmer episodes than in other parts, leading to record low or high temperatures. This regional climate variability does not disprove long-term climate change. While 2008 was slightly cooler than 2007, partially due to a La Niña event, it was nonetheless the 10th-warmest year on record.
The question is — why did the Post publish this letter in the first place, if it was going to let Will keep republishing again and again and again the same exact “misinterpretation of the data and of scientific knowledge.” Were they just trying to humor the WMO? Is their letters column just a placebo that readers should ignore along with the rest of the editorial page? Some questions do answer themselves.
I would say “shame on the Post,” but they are obviously shameless.
- Washington Post, Fred Hiatt turn op-ed page into a “joke” with yet another falsehood-filled piece attacking climate action and clean energy – by GOP quitter-in-chief Sarah “Four Pinocchios” Palin!
- The Washington Post launches a paranoid (and naïve) attack on the House clean energy and climate bill for promoting efficient new buildings
- Memo to Washington Post: Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt just recycled a right-wing WSJ op-ed. If you won’t fire him, could you move him over to obits where he can’t hurt anyone?
- In a blunder reminiscent of Janet Cooke scandal, the Washington Post lets George Will reassert all his climate falsehoods plus some new ones
- The Washington Post op-ed page remains the home of un-fact-checked disinformation about clean energy and global warming