Let me state for the record that I oppose Congressional hearings into “journalistic malpractice” underlying Washington Post coverage of global warming.
Sure Gawker said “The Washington Post Has the Worst Opinion Section in America.” But is that “journalistic malpractice”? Sure the Post seemed to abandon any journalistic standards when it let George Will publish a third time global warming lies debunked on its own pages. Heck, even Bill O’Reilly accused Dana Milbank of an “outright lie,” but he also joked Milbank should be beheaded.
But surely that isn’t justification for holding Congressional hearings into “journalistic malpractice” at the Washington Post?
Stop the presses! I’m now told whole darn story “may not be true.”
It turns out maybe nobody wants to hold Congressional hearings into “journalistic malpractice” underlying Washington Post coverage of global warming.
Sorry. Never mind.
But wait? What about this repeated accusation that there was “journalistic malpractice” at the Washington Post? Won’t Climate Progress readers come away with that phrase stuck in their mind. Shouldn’t CP set the record straight so the WashPost isn’t tainted by a false accusation, particularly by the large fraction of readers who never get past the headline? Nah.
Because then the Washington Post would have to apologize and retract this story, which keeps repeating the false frame of the disinformers with no debunking [italics added]:
GOP leadership cool to hearings into “scientific fraud” underlying global warming
Last week there was widespread speculation that the GOP is planning to hold high profile hearings next year into the “scientific fraud” behind global warming. The news touched off a round of anxious commentary among liberals about the coming rash of GOP investigations and fake scandals.
The only problem is that it may not be true.
A spokesman for the leading Republican on the committee that would undertake such hearings tells me that isn’t the plan. And a senior GOP leadership aide says the leadership is cool to the idea.
Rep. Joe Barton of Texas (the same dude who apologized to BP) is in line to be the chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. A committee spokesman, Larry Neal, emails that global warming science won’t be the focus of upcoming hearings. Rather, Barton wants to hold hearings to try to get the Environmental Protection Agency to study the impact action on global warming will have on jobs.
At issue is the EPA’s recent “endangerment finding,” which determined that greeenhouse gases contribute to air pollution that may endanger public health or welfare. According to Barton’s office, EPA chief Lisa Jackson said at some point that studying the impact on the economy of scientific action in response to the greenhouse gas problem would have “limited utility.”
“Our committee will finally get to inquire” why Jackson “proudly refuses to analyze her agency’s actions to determine either the potential job losses they will cause or the pressure they will put on U.S. companies to relocate overseas,” Neal emails. “Congressman Barton is very interested.”
Separately, the GOP leadership is apparently aware what a circus hearings into the allegedly fraudulent science underlying global warming would be — and how it would play into Dem efforts to paint Republicans as hostage to extremists.
“It’s just not the best strategy,” a senior GOP aide says. “The most effective way to fight the national energy tax is to talk about the economic effect and jobs.”
So you’re certainly going to see Republicans use the machinery of government to push the case that action on the environment is devastating to the economy. And no doubt there will be bit of grandstanding at these hearings from select GOPers about global warming perhaps being a hoax. But no hearings as of yet are being planned that would focus specifically on the science underlying global warming.
What a relief!
So in this story, counting the headline, the Washington Post repeats the “scientific fraud” frame 3 times and the ‘hoax’ claim once, guaranteeing that most readers will walk away with those phrases or frame in their head. The Post never bothers to mention the multiple vindications for climate scientists or the overwhelming science underlying our understanding of human caused:
- The first rule of vindicating climate scientists is you do not talk about vindicating climate scientists
- Much-vindicated Michael Mann and Hockey Stick get final exoneration from Penn State “” time for some major media apologies and retractions
- Final ‘forensic’ UK report on emails vindicates climate science and research underlying the Hockey Stick
Yes, if read this story very closely you might get the implication that the Post possibly thinks this is a fake scandal. And they did at least throw in the word “allegedly” and suggest it might conceivably play into efforts to paint Republicans as extremists. None of that comes close to undoing the power of the incredibly strong repeated word “fraud.”
Indeed, there is a long body of research on the fact that you can’t debunk a myth by repeating (which I discuss here). “When people find a claim familiar because of prior exposure but do not recall the original context or source of the claim, they tend to think that the claim is true,” noted a 2005 journal article, “How Warnings about False Claims Become Recommendations,” which concluded “Telling people that a consumer claim is false can make them misremember it as true.”
So imagine how bad it is to repeating a myth three times and only hinting that it isn’t true! This is not some obscure rhetorical matter. The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention itself has studied the matter, and the Washington Post itself wrote about a it few years ago in a piece titled, “Persistence of Myths Could Alter Public Policy Approach“:
Indeed, repetition seems to be a key culprit. Things that are repeated often become more accessible in memory, and one of the brain’s subconscious rules of thumb is that easily recalled things are true.
So as amusing as it is for the Washington Post to sort of mock the GOP extremists for possibly holding hearings into allegations of fraud that have been thoroughly investigated and debunked, the way the piece is written is inexcusable, though obviously it is not “journalistic malpractice” and I want to state as clearly as possible that I don’t want anybody to think it is even “alleged journalistic malpractice” or to remember the phrase “journalistic malpractice” when they think about the Washington Post coverage of this issue.
I am going to repeat this and put it in bold face to make sure that my meaning is as clear as possible: Do not think “journalistic malpractice” when you think about the Washington Post coverage of global warming.
For the record, notwithstanding this Post story, there remains a very good chance that the GOP will use hearings in the next two years to attack the science underlying global warming, since it is the cornerstone of the rationale for EPA action.
- The day DC journalism died: Washington Post is staffed with people who found ZERO mistakes in George Will’s error-filled denial column
- In a blunder reminiscent of Janet Cooke scandal, the Washington Post lets George Will reassert all his climate falsehoods plus some new ones
- Will the Washington Post ever fact check a George Will column?
- Memo to Post: If George Will quotes a lie, it’s still a lie
- Washington Post reporters take unprecedented step of contradicting columnist George Will in a news article
- 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?
- WashPost recycles another denier WSJ op-ed, this time from coal apologist Bjorn Lomborg. Funny how two new senior Post editors came from the WSJ.
- 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 goes tabloid, publishes second falsehood-filled op-ed by Sarah Palin in five months “” on climate science and the hacked emails!