27 Responses to In a stunning journalistic lapse, the NY Times gives credulous coverage to Swift Boat smearer Marc Morano, the Jayson Blair of global warming
Apparently the NYT felt a Magazine cover story pushing the pseudoscience of Freeman Dyson was not enough free publicity for the dwindling minority desperately trying to persuade humanity not to act in time to save itself from catastrophic climate impacts.
In a second inexplicable lapse in journalistic judgment, the paper of record has decided to promote the new disinformation campaign of the least credible global warming denier in the country — Swift Boat smearer Marc Morano, a man whose record of making stuff up would make disgraced former NYT reporter Jayson Blair cringe.
Yes, I know, I just promised “this blog will be a Morano-free zone” (see “Memo to media, blogosphere: Swift boat smearer Marc Morano has no credibility. He is unquotable and uncitable“). But I was talking about ignoring his blog, since I assumed no serious reporter would flack Morano and his new disinformation-pushing website. Who would have guessed that a NYT reporter, Leslie Kaufman, would want to smear her own reputation with a remarkably credulous profile of the Swift Boat smearer, “Dissenter on Warming Expands His Campaign“?
Here is how Kaufman writes of Morano’s background, including the Swift Boat smear:
After college, Mr. Morano worked as a reporter for Rush Limbaugh, where he said he had learned the satisfactions of poking at the “liberal establishment.” He made a documentary on the Amazon rain forest, he said, because it annoyed him that celebrities like Sting could dictate what people think about the issue. They vastly exaggerated the problem of deforestation, he concluded.
Yes, if one problem on the face of the earth has been vastly exaggerated, it is deforestation in the Amazon. Let’s see. Morano made the documentary in 2000. In 2002, the NYT itself wrote a story, “Amazon Forest Still Burning Despite the Good Intentions,” that noted, “the Brazilian jungle is still disappearing at a rate of more than 6,000 square miles a year, an area the size of Connecticut.” But Morano must be right and the NYT wrong. [But wait, if the NYT can be wrong, then this profile can be wrong…]
He then jumped to Cyber News Service, where he was the first to publish accusations from Vietnam Swift-boat veterans that Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts, then the Democratic presidential nominee, had glorified his war record. Many of the accusations later proved unfounded.
Mr. Morano is proud of his work, which he says is not advocacy but truth seeking.
What has become of the paper of record?
“Many of the accusations later proved unfounded.” Ya think? And then to follow that up with with “Mr. Morano is proud of his work, which he says is not advocacy but truth seeking.”
Since when did the New York Times become People magazine or Parade or the Washington Times?
Exactly how many world-famous lies and smear campaigns does a purveyor of disinformation have to make before the NYT decides not to give them free publicity and publicize their new disinformation-pushing website?
Morano just makes stuff up and misrepresents scientists’ work, as I (and others) have repeatedly shown (see, for instance, Scientist: “Our conclusions were misinterpreted” by Morano, CO2 “” but not the sun “” “is significantly correlated” with temperature since 1850 and Inhofe and Morano keep making stuff up, this time utterly misquoting Revkin on Hansen). See also ConWebWatch’s “Lies, Conservatives and Statistics: Marc Morano’s Fantasy.”
The story ends with a classic story from Kevin Grandia, who manages the great blog, Desmogblog.com:
Mr. Grandia also said Mr. Morano’s report misrepresented the work of legitimate scientists. Mr. Grandia pointed to Steve Rayner, a professor at Oxford, who was mentioned for articles criticizing the Kyoto Protocol, the 1997 international treaty on curbing carbon dioxide emissions.
Dr. Rayner, however, in no way disputes the existence of global warming or that human activity contributes to it, as the report implies. In e-mail messages, he said that he had asked to be removed from the Morano report and that a staff member in Mr. Inhofe’s office had promised that he would be. He called his inclusion on the list “quite outrageous.”
Asked about Dr. Rayner, Mr. Morano was unmoved. He said that he had no record of Dr. Rayner’s asking to be removed from the list and that the doctor must be “not to be remembering this clearly.”
Hmm. Let’s see. Who are we going to believe? An Oxford Professor — or the Swift Boat smearer and former Limbaugh stooge? If you’re Leslie Kaufman of the New York Times, it’s easy — you give the final word to the smearer:
Many scientists, Mr. Morano said, are afraid that appearing on the list will have political fallout.
And political fallout, for him, is the point.
I’m gonna end with the story Kaufman opens the piece with:
Marc Morano does not think global warming is anything to worry about, and he brags about his confrontations with those who do.
For example, Mr. Morano said he once spotted former Vice President Al Gore on an airplane returning from a climate conference in Bali. Mr. Gore was posing for photos with well-wishers, and Mr. Morano said he had asked if he, too, could have his picture taken with Mr. Gore.
He refused, Mr. Morano said.
“You attack me all the time,” Mr. Gore said, according to Mr. Morano.
“Yes, we do,” Mr. Morano said he had replied.
Mr. Gore’s office said Mr. Gore had no memory of the encounter. Mr. Morano does not care. He tells the story anyway.
Does Kaufman have a verifying source for this? It doesn’t sound like it. I happened to be speaking to Gore today and he remarked on this Morano fable and said he just doesn’t remember it happening the way Morano describes.
But who are you going to believe — a Nobel laureate and former Vice President or a guy who compulsively makes stuff up and smears people? Again, it’s easy for Kaufman — If she believed Gore, she wouldn’t have such a cutesy personal interest story to open with. And we already know that the New York Times likes to smear Gore unjustifiably even when it is clear he is telling the truth (see Unstaining Al Gore’s good name 2: He is not “guilty of inaccuracies and overstatements” and is owed a correction and apology by the New York Times).
Shame on the New York Times. Shame on Leslie Kaufman.