The Washington Post goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months — on climate science and the hacked emails!

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"The Washington Post goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months — on climate science and the hacked emails!"

Palin jumps from birther to flat earther

It is no longer possible to hide the decline of a once great newspaper, no longer possible to hide the decline of the paper that broke the Watergate story, but is now hanging itself on the Climategate story (see James Fallows’ blog).

The newspaper that just editorialized, “Many “” including us “” find global warming deniers’ claims irresponsible,” has just published a grotesquely irresponsible and falsehood-filled piece on climate science and the hacked emails by that leading light of science, ex-Governor Sarah Palin.  This is a woman that recently embraced the fact-free birthers

Palin is so practiced at repeating falsehoods — even in her supposed area of expertise (energy) — that during last year’s presidential campaign, the Washington Post itself gave her its highest (which is to say lowest) rating of “Four Pinocchios” for continuing to “to peddle bogus [energy] statistics three days after the original error was pointed out by independent fact-checkers.”  And then in July, the WashPost let her publish a falsehood-filled piece attacking climate action and clean energy.

And now they publish this unmitigated tabloid nonsense:

The e-mails reveal that leading climate “experts” deliberately destroyed records, manipulated data to “hide the decline” in global temperatures….

No, they don’t reveal that.

Seriously, does the Post have any evidence that records were deliberately destroyed?  In fact, that is a right-wing myth debunked weeks ago (see “Santer, Jones, and Schneider respond to CEI’s phony attack on the temperature record“) and again here.

Is the Post the least bit concerned that the “hide the decline” email was not about any nefariously “manipulated data” — everything was done in plain sight — and it was not about hiding a decline in global temperatures, but involved one small dataset.  As Prof. Phil Jones himself explained at length:

The use of the term ‘hiding the decline’ was in an email written in haste. CRU has not sought to hide the decline. Indeed, CRU has published a number of articles that both illustrate, and discuss the implications of, this recent tree-ring decline, including the article that is listed in the legend of the WMO Statement figure. It is because of this trend in these tree-ring data that we know does not represent temperature change that I only show this series up to 1960 in the WMO Statement.”

As the Union of Concerned Scientists explained, the phrase “refers to omitting data from some Siberian trees after 1960. This omission was openly discussed in the latest climate science update in 2007 from the IPCC, so it is not ‘hidden’ at all.”  See also Peter Sinclair’s video here.

On what basis does the Post allow Palin to assert:

That’s not to say I deny the reality of some changes in climate — far from it. I saw the impact of changing weather patterns firsthand while serving as governor of our only Arctic state. I was one of the first governors to create a subcabinet to deal specifically with the issue and to recommend common-sense policies to respond to the coastal erosion, thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice that affect Alaska’s communities and infrastructure.

But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.

In fact, we can say with assurance that man’s activities cause the very climate change she points to — thawing permafrost and retreating sea ice.  That is precisely what the IPCC’s 2007 review of the scientific literature concluded, that there is a better than 90% chance humans are the cause of most of the recent warming:

Most of the observed increase in global average temperatures since the mid-20th century is very likely due to the observed increase in anthropogenic greenhouse gas concentrations.

Is Palin a scientist?  Does the Post simply allow anybody to make anti-scientific assertions?

Never mind.

It is ironic that Palin set up a subcabinet to study responses to retreating sea ice, but proudly states in the op-ed:

As governor of Alaska, I took a stand against politicized science when I sued the federal government over its decision to list the polar bear as an endangered species despite the fact that the polar bear population had more than doubled. I got clobbered for my actions by radical environmentalists nationwide, but I stood by my view that adding a healthy species to the endangered list under the guise of “climate change impacts” was an abuse of the Endangered Species Act.

Both she and the Post seem unaware of the fact that the polar bear has little chance of surviving once its primary habitat is melted away (see Will polar bears go extinct by 2030? “” Part I and Part II).

And, then the Post lets Palin assert without citing a single source on her behalf, “We can say, however, that any potential benefits of proposed emissions reduction policies are far outweighed by their economic costs.”  Again, that statement has no basis in fact (see “Waxman-Markey clean air, clean water, clean energy jobs bill creates $1.5 trillion in benefits“).

For the record, here’s what serious media outlets and journals think of the email story:

In a desperate effort to save itself in a dying industry, the Post has morphed into a tabloid newspaper.

UPDATE:  Media Matters has more debunking here.

Related Posts:

turned their op-ed page into a “joke” with
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30 Responses to The Washington Post goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months — on climate science and the hacked emails!

  1. mike roddy says:

    They were just throwing a bone to their corporate advertisers and owners. The staff must have held their noses about the Palin piece.

    This is no excuse, of course. The Post (I used to be a Post paperboy when my dad was a senior strategist in the Pentagon) and the New York Times have ruined their reputations for good. And let’s not even talk about the networks and USA Today. This is how bad it’s getting: Young people are already turning to blogs, online papers, and alternative media. They can certainly smell a rat.

  2. joe1347 says:

    At least going right wing tabloid doesn’t seem to be helping the Post that much. Their circulation is declining rapidly. Although I wonder how much the listed circulation numbers are weighted towards Sunday only subscribers – or people that occasionally pick up the Sunday Post (at the store or newstand) – and the number of daily subscribers is much lower?

    http://www.newsandtech.com/dateline/article_82a437a8-c25b-11de-aa2d-001cc4c03286.html

    Newspaper circulation continued to tumble, according to the Audit Bureau of Circulations’ fall Fas-Fax report

    The Washington Post, 582,844, down 6.4 percent

  3. clarkbeast says:

    The thing that kills me in her piece is the unmitigated scorn she heaps on professional scientists: “so-called climate change experts”? Please! Can we get Katie Couric to ask her a few questions about her expertise? I suppose she can see climate from her window.

  4. Dan K. says:

    “But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.”

    Weather changes? I think she’s even messing up weather vs. climate. An all too common mistake. They’re not synonymous!! Just like ‘Palin’ and ‘knowledgeable’

    Dan

  5. Anna Haynes says:

    Palin WaPo link: (I think it’s the wrong link, above)
    Copenhagen’s political science

  6. Raleigh Latham says:

    I wish they could put a picture of her murdering a moose right next to her article to give readers a better perspective on her stance on nature.

  7. logie says:

    Sarah Palin has now revealed her true strategy- she’s an ally of the Saudis!

    Just like them, she thinks global warming is a crock. She’s therefore pleased to continue the US’s dependence on Saudi oil.

    Well done Sarah! Your true saudi supporting colors revealed at last!

  8. SCPolicyGuy says:

    Suggest you stay focused on the climate and climate change. This is a good blog, one of only a handful that I track. Leave the media to themselves: its a business, its political theater etc and Mrs Palin is just a performer. If your subscribers want to spend more cycles on this you might suggest that they look for signs that the wealthy are starting to unload SE coastal real estate. The southeast is expected to see the brunt of the climate change damage.

    The real damage from climategate is contingent upon how the scientific community disciplines itself in public. Are scientist political? Sure they are. Do they engage in rent seeking behavior? Sure they do. Does that mean climate science is wrong? Nope. Are people concerned about the size of the bet we are making when introducing legislation that fundamentally changes our economy? I sure hope so. We need every bit of input into the decision making process.

    [JR: This is a blog for climate science, solution, politics and media criticism. If you want only science coverage, RealClimate might be best. The notion that scientists "engage in rent seeking behavior" is just absurd and renders that phrase utterly meaningless. Does everyone who works for a living "engage in rent seeking behavior"? By your definition, yes. Anyone who knows scientists, and I know hundreds, knows that they didn't go into their profession to make money. Indeed, given the 80 hour weeks most work, it does not pay a particularly high hourly wage, and in our current anti-scientific environment, it doesn't bring much prestige. Scientists "engage in truth seeking behavior" -- that is their defining quality.]

  9. clarkbeast says:

    SCPolicyGuy does have a good point, Joe, and it’s one I’ve thought of passing along, too. Many, if not most, of my friends are undecided or skeptical about the science. One of the reasons they’re reluctant to trust it is their perception that this is at heart a political issue, that consensus only exists within political factions and that the truth is somewhere in the middle. I’ve developed a reputation as an honest broker for some of them (probably had a dozen people have come to me for my opinion about ClimateGate), and I’d like to send them here for more information . . . but I’m reluctant to do so because I know they’ll be turned off by the occasionally partisan and combative tone. Substance IS important, of course, but so is tone. Leave invective to your commenters (like mine above).

    [JR: Any of your friends who wants to learn the science can easily do so by reading the literature or the literature reviews (IPCC).]

  10. Cynthia says:

    To the above writers: How can anyone not have emotions concerning all this? Our whole civiliztion is about to crash unless Americans wake up! I side with Joe and applaud him for his bluntness.

  11. Cynthia says:

    To Logie: I don’t think Sarah Palin really thinks global warming is a crock– she lives in Alaska; she has to see that it’s happening. She’s just more concerned about money than she is about Truth.

  12. John says:

    That whole “Free Speech” business is just so much crap. It would be so much more convenient if the Government just prevented people from publishing, or posting anything that had been judged not true.

  13. Chris Dudley says:

    The warmonger Friedman is also engaging is slander by claiming data were massaged: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/12/09/opinion/09friedman.html

  14. Cynthia says:

    Palin says: “But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes”

    Hmm… Over 6 billion humans, driving several billions of cars daily, which emit billions of tons of CO2, living in several billion homes, which use electricity which produces billions of tons of CO2, heating their billions of homes with fossil fuels, which emits more CO2, and that’s not counting all the power plants, etc. And we can’t say for sure that humans are affecting the climate?

  15. Craig says:

    In response to Post #9, you say: “Anyone of your friends who wants to learn the science can easily do so.” (It seems that you later added “by reading the literature or the literature reviews”.)

    I have an interest in learning the science, so I have been reading a lot of web sites and related references. Recently, I came across the draft copy of a new climate science textbook by Robert Pierrehumbert. It is 500+ pages long, including what looks like about 250 pages dealing with planetary radiation balances, and the various assumptions and approaches that are available for doing those kinds of calculations. Now I have a PhD in engineering, and I am fairly literate mathematically, so I am sure that with sufficient time, I could master that material. But I would not describe it as something that is ‘easily learned’ by the average person.

    Your colleague, Spence Weart, says this on his web site about the theory behind greenhouse heating effects:

    “Looking for a complete explanation of greenhouse warming, equations and all? You won’t find it here or anywhere on the Web: first you have to fully grasp at least one good textbook, and even then you can only see how climate may change by running the equations on a large computer model that takes into account all the details of crucial factors like clouds and ocean circulation. ”

    He also has this quote:

    “”No branch of atmospheric physics is more difficult than that dealing with radiation. This is not because we do not know the laws of radiation, but because of the difficulty of applying them to gases.” — G.C. Simpson”

    So I strongly disagree that the science is easily learned and understood by the average person.

    What you are really saying is that the average person can learn (memorize) a simple explanation that has been provided by an expert. That does not provide that individual with sufficient information or understanding make an independent judgement of whether or not the theory is supported by the evidence. That can only be done after a lot of study.

    Even if the average citizen can correctly recite a simplifed version of the scientific theory, it might as well be dogma, given the shallow depth of their understanding. They are still going to be dependent on the experts for an informed opinion as to whether or not the theory is ‘true’. At best, this level of learning allows them to smugly declare that they understand and believe the science, thereby setting themselves above the less informed dullards who do not yet believe.

  16. clarkbeast says:

    Joe, I really think SCPolicyGuy and I are on your side (at least I KNOW I am). Please don’t think I’m attacking you when I offer a thought about tone. Yes, my friends can all go and read the scientific literature for themselves, but they won’t. Nor will they really know how to understand it or what to do with it. There is tremendous value in your blog in that it offers clear explanation and analysis for the layperson in real time. I can attempt the same on my blog, but then I’m not a scientist, so I don’t have the same credibility. I WANT to send my friends here, especially my Republican friends (we need them, too), but I want them to stick around long enough to actually hear and learn something. There’s a difference between being opinionated and being combative.

    [JR: I appreciate your comments. You may not have noticed it but CP is endeavoring to respond to comments like yours and starting to ignore many of the hard-core anti-science ideologues in the blogosphere. But, I can't ignore the likes of Palin or big media or the anti-scientific disinformers like Inhofe. Responding to them is a core reason this blog was started in the first place -- and no doubt a core reason for its staggering growth in readership -- a 10 fold increase in subscribers this year! I reiterate sincerely that if you just want posts on the science, I'd suggest RealClimate.]

  17. JoAnn Blake says:

    Joe, You can send your piece here refuting Palin’s points to the Post and the newspaper will print it.
    I don’t think the Post fact checks its op-ed pieces, as a rule.
    What’s really unfortunate is that most people don’t understand or care about climate change so they’ll believe anything that’s easy to comprehend.

  18. clarkbeast says:

    Wow, that was quick. Thanks you for the response. Maybe you’re misreading me, maybe I’m being unclear. The likes of Palin and Inhofe MUST be answered, and quickly. They do tremendous damage. Believe me, I know . . . my wife works in talk radio. I like RealClimate, but obviously analysis of politics and media matter, too . . . you do something that no one else really does, and you need as broad an audience as possible.

    [JR: Thanks. It remains a balancing act of passion and logic.]

  19. Seth Masia says:

    Clarkbeast, the issue has become political but the basic science was established in 1889, when Arrhenius validated van’t Hoff’s equation — a century before the fossil fuel establishment woke up to the political implications.

  20. dhogaza says:

    The warmonger Friedman is also engaging is slander by claiming data were massaged

    I’ve read it, and it’s horrible. What’s with these people uncritically repeating skeptic claims without bothering to do the least bit of checking?

    My local, the Oregonian, ran a pro-action editorial a couple of days ago that had a couple of paragraphs reading almost exactly like those in Friedman’s editorial. Fortunately the thrust of the editorial is that the science is sound, and action is needed, but repeating the libelous claims and character really angered and depressed me. I wrote a quick LTE but they’ve not used it.

  21. Marion Delgado says:

    As an actual Alaskan, I can’t count how many times I’ve been told about the Secret Oil Reserves bigger than Saudi Arabia and Iraq put together that are just somewhere offshore and being hid by “Them” – the UN environmentalists who secretly run the world, including Alaska.

    The only things I can compare it to are HAARP and the supposed FEMA camp in Fairbanks, both of which I reported on in situ to no avail.

  22. Global warming is the story of the century so it’s not surprising that, after gazillions and gazillions of words have been written and uttered on the subject, it’s getting harder and harder to say something about it that hasn’t already been said millions of times over.

    What’s one to do? How can you get a litle attention on the story of the century? You can almost imagine Sarah Pallin’s policy advisor’s setting out these general guidelines for her anytime she refers to global warming:

    TALKING POINTS FOR SARAH PALLIN ON GLOBAL WARMING

    1. Whatever you say, make sure it is outrageous. Anything irrational will do. Refuting science is a good move in this regard.

    2. Make sure you take as opposite a view as possible from the pointy head intellectuals who think they are smarter than everyone else. Remember the old adage, “you will never go broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people”.

    3. Of utmost importance, do not, repeat, do not, say anything that implies you agree with the overwhelming consensus of opinion that global warming is man-made. If you do, no one will listen to you and your book sales will go down.

    4…. well, you get the point.

  23. clarkbeast says:

    Joe, can you help me put the letter in the following link into context?

    http://www.copenhagenclimatechallenge.org

    [JR: People who can or won't read the scientific literature and/or do the observations/analysis themselves.]

  24. Chris Winter says:

    Cynthia wrote: “Palin says: ‘But while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can’t say with assurance that man’s activities cause weather changes.’ “

    So much for the Urban Heat Island Effect, eh? ;-)

  25. WAG says:

    Harvard Business Review weighs in on the Palin op-ed:

    “Controversy, in contrast, is worth a great deal only in terms of low-value readers. Your average radical libertarian Ayn Rand-worshipping global warming denialist isn’t exactly a high-value reader — just like your average patchouli-sniffing communistic hippie isn’t, either. Both are unlikely to pay for new information, because both think they know it all already. It’s the market in the middle that’s worth the most; they have the highest propensity to consume new stuff: “new”s.

    “Opinion arbitrage is really the game of setting the terms of a better, more meaningful debate — one that imparts readers with deep, enduring knowledge. That’s what the Financial Times and the Economist, among a select group of others, have excelled at — and it’s what’s powering them to the top of a moribund industry.

    “All of which makes the Washington Post’s decision to publish an op-ed calling for Barack Obama to boycott Copenhagen because “there’s no such thing as global warming” by (wait for it) Sarah Palin, so disappointing. It’s just 21st century media business as usual — but it’s not fit for 21st century society.

    “An increasingly desperate Rupert Murdoch can tell you: controversy sells. But it sells for pennies. News publishers should be chasing the big bucks instead. And to earn them, you’ve got to do a whole lot better than publishing fauxp-eds by the opposite of experts.”

    http://blogs.harvardbusiness.org/haque/2009/12/why_controversy_wont_power_nex.html

  26. JayDee says:

    I have only one question, which may be a bit off-topic.

    Why must we go on calling Sarah Palin “Governor”, when she failed to complete her term of office?

    She was elected by the people of the State of Alaska to do a specific job for a specific term of years, and she reneged on that arrangement in order to avoid prosecution and negative publicity.

    I could understand that if a Governor’s life was cut short in office by an assassin’s bullet, or even a heart attack, that the title should be retained. These were circumstances beyond the person’s control. But to quit just so as to avoid bad PR and to go make big money elsewhere? That is not only not beyond control, but is entirely voluntary, and a spit in the eye of the taxpayers besides.

    As I see it, she failed to honor her end of the “contract”, and as such should not be able to claim the title, any more than a football player who quits the team mid-season should be able to claim a Super Bowl ring when his former team goes on to win it.

  27. Greg N says:

    Joe, I think you are being unfair on tabloids by comparing this nonsense with them. Often their standards are higher.

    Take today’s article in Britain’s top tabloid, The Sun. It’s a clear well written piece, pitched at the right level for the readers.

    http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/Green/2763172/The-hottest-decade-in-160yrs-still-sceptical.html

    The hottest decade in 160yrs …still Sceptical?

    “THIS decade has been the warmest since records began, the Copenhagen climate summit heard yesterday. And 2009 is set to be the fifth hottest year ever.

    The figures – based on evidence from 5,000 weather stations worldwide – silenced climate change doubters and generated more urgency on the second day of the UN climate summit.

    “We are in a warming trend – no doubt about it,” said Michael Jarraud of the World Meteorological Organisation, which released the figures. ”

    (This is a Murdoch publication)

  28. Tranche Demerde says:

    clarkbeast: If your friends won’t go and read the scientific literature, try recommending “The Copenhagen Diagnosis” to them. Quoting from the report’s website:

    “The report has been purposefully written with a target readership of policy-makers, stakeholders, the media and the broader public. Each section begins with a set of key points that summarises the main findings. The science contained in the report is based on the most credible and significant peer-reviewed literature available at the time of publication. The authors primarily comprise previous IPCC lead authors familiar with the rigor and completeness required for a scientific assessment of this nature.”

    Its only 60 pages. If you hear some clown say, for instance, that there is no evidence ice is melting in the north, you can look it up in this, and get a good idea of what the relevant experts actually think, as opposed to someone who is deliberately trying to mislead you, or who hasn’t a clue themselves.

  29. dan e bloom says:

    Joe, you forgot to mention one thing, PALIN did not write that oped. Why doesnt someone find out who ghosted it for her. She cannot write like that, she suffers from a speech and language disorder called “dysfluency”. Her speechwriters wrote that on Facebook and then asked the Post if the oped could go in. Palin did not write a word. Look into this. I am sure her ghostwriters wrote it. Shame on the Post, which is not a newspaper anymore, but a mere snailpaper. Egads!

  30. dan e bloom says:

    Joe, this oped appeared in Juneau Empire today: re Sarah Palin head in the sand and climate refugees…. read it!