The Washington Post published a terrific article, “New Data Show Rapid Arctic Ice Decline,” on page A3 today by reporters Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan. The piece begins by noting that “the region is warming more rapidly than scientists had expected.”
In a stinging rebuke to columnist George Will and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt, it contains this remarkable paragraph:
The new evidence — including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s — contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.
Wow! I have never seen a major newspaper so overtly contradict the lies misstatements by one of its own columnists in its news pages (as opposed to its editorial page). I’d be interested if any readers have seen anything like this before.
But this isn’t just a rebuke to Will, who, after all, is a widely debunked anti-scientific extemist when it comes to global warming (see “Is George Will the most ignorant national columnist?” and “Washington Post publishes two strong debunkings of George Will’s double dose of disinformation“).
This is a slap at the man who, though know idealogue, keeps letting Will publish his anti-scientific disinformation, the man whose actions have truly tarnished the reputation of the Washington Post op-ed page and letters column, editorial page editor, Fred Hiatt (see “In a blunder reminiscent of Janet Cooke scandal, the Washington Post lets George Will reassert all his climate falsehoods plus some new ones” and “The Washington Post, abandoning any journalistic standards, lets George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages“).
Serious journalists at the Post are so concerned about how this has all tarnished the newspaper’s reputation that another Post journalist, Andrew Freedman, has also today published a harsh rebuke to Will: “Will Misleads Readers on Climate Science – Again,” which concludes:
George Will’s recent columns demonstrate a very troubling pattern of misrepresentation of climate science. They raise some interesting questions about journalism, specifically concerning the editing process. Editors and fact checkers are there to ensure that publications like the Washington Post don’t print factually incorrect information. But how much oversight should there be of opinion pieces that address scientific subjects such as climate change, particularly when they are written by persons with little scientific training? Is there any additional role for editors to play in ensuring that scientific facts are not manipulated into making assertions that most scientists say are misleading, and essentially inaccurate? Or is it necessary to err on the side of allowing opinion writers flexibility in how they use facts to present their point of view, regardless of whether their argument may be viewed as flawed in the eyes of the mainstream scientific community?
Kudos to the real science and environmental journalists at the Post for speaking out against his efforts to misinformed the public and thereby delay the actions needed to protect billions of people from the misery of enduring the harshest global warming impacts: Hell and High Water.
But none of it will matter much if Hiatt simply continues to let Will continue to mislead the public.