No one in the mainstream media, it seems, has the guts to take on this scandal. This isn't some penny ante affair about graft or infidelity. This is a direct assault on our national values, on who we are as Americans. At one time, the criminal types who burglarized the Watergate or the office of Daniel Ellsberg's doctor were reviled. Now they have their own network. Bret Baier set the scene last Thursday:
Despite the escalating controversy over climate change data since the British e-mail story broke 13 days ago, the major broadcast networks have not covered it on their morning or evening news shows according to Media Research Center, even with President Obama heading to a climate change summit in Copenhagen next week.
The scandal is Baier's relentless promotion of cyber-terrorism. Of course, he's not the only apologist for the criminals who hacked into servers at the Climatic Research Unit of the University of East Anglia. George Will, Lou Dobbs and Newt Gingrich have all lent their support to this broad-based campaign effort by Fox News to legitimize the work of criminals who lurk in the shadows. The criminals, who remain unidentified and still at large, stole confidential e-mails, selectively edited them, and disseminated them to promote the crackpot belief that the scientific case for global warming is not rock solid.
There's no question that crooks feed off of the encouragement of on-air propagandists. Offices at Centre for Climate Modelling at the University of Victoria, in British Columbia, have suffered at least two break-ins in recent months. In addition, there have been several attempts at hacking into the center's computer network. People have also impersonated network technicians to try to gain access to campus offices and data. Prof. Raymond T. Pierrehumbert of the University of Chicago, noted the dangers:
I don't think [the stolen] emails had any personally compromising data in them, but that was just luck; this illegal act of cyber-terrorism against a climate scientist (and I don't think that's too strong a word) is ominous and frightening. What next? Deliberate monkeying with data on servers? Insertion of bugs into climate models? Or at the next level, since the forces of darkness have moved to illegal operations, will we all have to get bodyguards to do climate science?
Cyber-terrorism is commonly defined as:
The premeditated use of disruptive activities, or the threat thereof, against computers and/or networks, with the intention to cause harm or further social, ideological, religious, political or similar objectives. Or to intimidate any person in furtherance of such objectives.
The term applies to the crooks who invaded the computers at the University of East Anglia. It also touches on the ethical divide between legitimate news organizations and outfits like Fox News. To take climate-gate at face value, you have to be either dishonest or stupid. Brett Baier, who is dishonest, wants to make his viewers even more stupid.
More specifically, Baier showed his contempt for the basic rules of journalism, which are also understood by anyone with an ounce of common sense. A journalist would never accept those pilfered e-mails, by themselves, as a demonstration of anything. Baier knows nothing about that cyber-terrorist except the fact that he is, by definition, dishonest and unethical. Baier has no way of knowing if the e-mails were selectively edited and or embellished in a deceitful way. So he knows he could never rely on them as-is. He also knows what everyone else knows about e-mails. Messages that are not intended for larger distribution often reflect unstated references, jargon, sarcasm and humor, which may be fully understood by the correspondents but which, taken out of context, can be misunderstood by outsiders.
Of course, among bona fide journalists, deceitful editing is considered a bad thing. Not at Fox News. They deceitfully edited the words of the Pope to claim that he was a global warming skeptic. They falsely inserted words into the text of a scientific article to change its meaning. And the deceitfully edited a Daily Show segment to allege that Jon Stewart is a global warming denier.
Whenever a journalist reports leaked information from an anonymous source, he has vetted the leaker and vetted the leaked information. Baier and other charlatans at Fox News are trying to deceive their viewers into thinking that the stolen e-mails are comparable to the kind of leaked information reported by bona fide journalists. If you needed any further proof that Chris Wallace, Brian Wilson, Bill Hemmer, and Wendell Goler are dishonest, this is it. (It's also confirmation that these men are not fit to wipe Dan Rather's shoes. Friend and foe alike agree that Rather made a good faith - albeit imperfect - effort to vet the memo about Bush's National Guard disappearances.)
Given the circumstances, no one with common sense, or common decency, would place the onus on the terrorists' victims, the scientists at the University of East Anglia, to prove their veracity and the credibility of their work.
Baier did not highlight the difference between Fox and other broadcast networks on December 3 in order to remind viewers of his contempt for professional or ethical standards. He was insinuating, once again, that the liberal media cannot be trusted because it won't report on stories that were fabricated by Fox News. It's a variation on network's standard formula: Tell a lie and in the same breath impugn your opponents as dishonest. It's the rhetorical trick used to preempt any effort at honest debate or compromise. It's what Fox news is all about.
That's the formula. It doesn't matter whether Fox News is trying to pass off their programming as straight news reporting or as a two-sided debate. You may hear the Democratic side and you will hear the Republican side, which always includes an allegation - explicit or implicit - that the Democrats are dishonest. Democrats are never allowed to question the credibility of their right wing attackers.
The other part of the Fox News formula is that information takes a back seat to repetition. The e-mails were divulged two weeks ago, the aggrieved scientists said they were taken out of context, and that should have been end of it. The giveaway - the proof that Baier's intention is fraudulent - is what never happened. No real scientist came forward and said this new information should prompt us to reconsider our understanding of climate change. But Baier and his cohorts recycled the same story, over and over, always trotting out phony experts to frame the debate.
It's exactly like those who presume to pit the Holocaust deniers against the Holocaust scholars, and then rig the format so that Holocaust deniers always get the last word to accuse the other side of dishonesty. For a sampling of those efforts, see below.
Fox's global warming deniers have an intellectual cohort named David Irving, who 20 years earlier carefully combed through the scientific data to select isolated pieces of information, which, he claimed, debunked the conventional wisdom of the academic establishment. But he noted he that other experts "have begun using the tools of forensic science -- carbon-dating, gas chromatography, and simple ink-aging tests -- to examine, and not infrequently dispel, some of the more tenaciously held myths of the twentieth century... Forensic chemistry is, I repeat, an exact science." Irving referenced work of Fred Leuchter, who, based on careful forensic research, claimed that his study discredited the notion that Jews were killed in gas chambers at Auschwitz. Though bona fide scientists carefully detailed all the flaws in that crackpot analysis, Leuchter and the Institute For Historical Review remain unconvinced. The Institute of Historical Review is the Fox News of Holocaust studies.
Some of Fox News' sloppy kisses to the cyber-terrorists:
Special Report, December 3, 2009:
An American researcher is threatening to sue NASA over its alleged distortion of climate change data. This follows revelations that scientists at a British university have changed or destroyed similar information. Christopher Horner, a senior fellow at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, believes NASA manipulated temperature information to support its claim that the present decade is the warmest on record: "They don't want to admit the trend. It's cooling and they're trying not to say that.... When you talk about temperatures this decade and compare them to 1885, where were we measuring the temperature in 1885?"
Fox never disclosed that the Competitive Enterprise Institute
is funded by the oil industry.
Special Report, November 30, 2009:
BRIT HUME, FOX NEWS SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST: As you heard Wendell Goler's report, a large collection of e-mails exchange among weather researchers of the University of East Anglia in England have gotten out and caused a scandal. The reason that university's climate research matters is that it has been heavily relied upon by the U.N. in reaching its alarmist conclusions about the threat of global warming.
The reason it's a scandal is that the e-mails vividly portray leading scientists there scheming to suppress or discredit data and analysis contrary to their dire predictions. The whole idea that the earth is warming dangerously and that man, by burning carbon fuels is the cause, rests on computerized projections of future temperatures based on vast amounts of previously observed climate data. But there's a huge problem.
There has been no apparent increase in global temperatures over the past 11 years, and the computerized climate models failed to predict this and the global warming alarmists can't explain it. The obvious conclusion would be is that there's something wrong with the computer models.
Now it has come out that the original raw data used to create these models has been destroyed or otherwise disposed of. The response of the alarmists to these revelations has been that the e-mails were taken out of context and that the destruction of all that raw data was done for space reasons. There's a one-word answer to all of that. Please -- Bret.
"Please," is not an answer; it's a bitchy insinuation.
Special Report, November 25, 2009:
It's unclear if economic concerns are feeding the doubts, but they are fueling a challenge to the EPA's claim that it has the authority to regulate greenhouse gas emissions which the Competitive Enterprise Institute says could cost trillions.
MYRON EBELL, COMPETITIVE ENTERPRISE INSTITUTE: We think that the EPA's decision is fundamentally flawed because it is based on junk science.
GOLER: Myron Ebell's group has found new ammunition in thousands of e-mails hacked or leaked from East Anglia University in England which allegedly show climate change data was distorted or destroyed to make the case for global warming.
EBELL: If we're cherry-picking, these are very large cherries. They're very ripe and they're very hard to miss once you look through these files and these e-mails.
GOLER: For example, Kevin Trenberth of the U.S. Center for Atmospheric Research saying, quote, "The fact is we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it's a travesty that we can't." Dr. Trenberth and others say their words were taken out of context.
KEVIN TRENBERTH, NATL CTR FOR ATMOSPHERIC RESEARCH: It certainly doesn't mean that there's no global warming. It does mean we don't have a complete enough observing system to fully track exactly what's going on and especially why it's going on.
GOLER: Trenberth says rising CO2 levels, melting ice, rising water and warmer temperatures are all measurable.
TRENBERTH: Global warming is happening. There are some uncertainties and the models are not perfect. And the key questions are then what do we do about it, and this is where the debate certainly is required.
GOLER: Oklahoma Senator James Inhofe plans hearings on whether the e-mails show the science on climate change was cooked.
Special Report, November 24, 2009
The leading global warming skeptic in Congress says he will ask for an investigation into allegations that some scientists have purposely overstated the data supporting the theory of man-made climate change.
Oklahoma Republican Senator James Inhofe is referring to information discovered by computer hackers who reportedly broke into a server at a well-respected climate change research center in Britain. One of the e-mails found and posted from center director Phil Jones refers to a technique to, "hide the decline" in recent global temperatures.
Jones wrote that in compiling new data he had used what he called the "trick" of adding in temperatures from different time periods to "hide the decline."
Climate change skeptics argue data indicates global temperatures stopped increasing as far back as 1960. Jones says the comment was taken out of context. Inhofe points to all that to bolster his suspicion that the United Nations and its climate change panel, "cooked the science to make this thing look as if the science was settled, when all the time... we knew it was not."
[FIRST POSTED ON HUFFINGTONPOST.COM]
For over 20 years, David has been a banker covering the energy industry for several global banks in New York. Currently, he is working on several journalism projects dealing with corporate and political corruption that, so far, have escaped serious (more...