My Rebuttal to Romm

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorNov 2, 2009 4:10 AM


Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

[UPDATE 1: See bottom to read about the deletions and textual changes Romm makes in his post and follow-up response.] [UPDATE2: Science journalist and University of Colorado professor Tom Yulsman, (a colleague and friend), weighs in here.] [UPDATE3: Since publishing his post on me, Romm has made so many changes in the text that it's hard to keep track of them. But the most obvious one, as of 11/6/09, is the headline. Where it used to read: "Meet Trash Journalist Keith Kloor," it now says, "Meet Blogger Keith Kloor."] In an obvious effort to damage my reputation, Joe Romm makes many sweeping accusations in this post. Among the biggest is this one:

Day in and day out, Kloor just trashes people who disagree with him.

Wow, I invite anyone to scan the last week of my blog or any random week in the last nine months to see if that's true. Why Romm would make such an obviously refutable statement boggles my mind. The reason for Romm's 2700-word attack seems to stem from this critical post I wrote on him several weeks ago. So I'll mostly address his grievances related to that. Honestly, the stuff he throws out in the second half of his post amounts to a string of selective quotes from various posts of mine, all taken out of context--and all meant to buttress Romm's contention that I am some poseur journalist. (And he never provides links to the actual posts.) So Romm alleges that I've "smeared" his parents in this post. That's the charge I take most seriously. Here's the prelude: After being caught trying to feed Stanford climate scientist Ken Caldeira a quote, Romm defended himself this way:

It is exceedingly common in regular journalism to ask people for a quote that makes a very specific point "” I've been asked many times by reporters to do similar things.

I took exception to that, and wrote this:

I've never done this during my career as a magazine journalist. I don't know any magazine writer that would do such a thing. Perhaps it happens in the newspaper world, but I'd be shocked if it occurs in the the way Romm suggests.

It also bothered me that Romm wanted that canned quote for this reason:

I want to trash them [Dubner & Levitt] for this insanity and ignorance.

As I wrote here:

It would be one thing if Romm said to Caldeira, I want to refute Dubner and Levitt, or I want to repudiate them. But no, Romm says he wants to trash them. That's plainly out of bounds. That's not how reputable journalists operate"“we don't set out to deliberately trash people.

Now, in my original critical post, I admittedly tried to tweak Romm with a reference to his family journalistic connection, (mainly because he invokes it often at Climate Progress):

I suspect that Romm is trying to rationalize his own behavior with the kind of lazy practice that perhaps happened with regularity in a past era"“maybe even at the Times Herald Record in the 1960s and 1970s, which is where Romm first learned all about journalism, when his parents were at the helm of that Hudson Valley paper. But I wouldn't want to impugn his parents' legacy or that paper's reputation with such an accusation. Maybe I'll just call up some old friends who worked at that fine paper in recent years and see if it was "exceedingly common" for them to feed sources quotes when they reported their stories.

So how is that a smear of his parents? How could it be, because Romm himself asserts that feeding sources specific quotes is standard journalistic practice. So if that's the way it's done--and I contend not--then me pointing to a hypothetical past in which his parents might have practiced this can't be a smear. After all, Romm rationalizes his own behavior by saying everyone else does it. Everyone else would seem to include all journalists, including his parents, right? Yes, I write rhetorically that perhaps the practice of feeding quotes was once common decades ago (and I honestly don't know), but I wouldn't want to assume so either, which is why I write with respect to his parents:

But I wouldn't want to impugn his parents' legacy or that paper's reputation with such an accusation.

Here's the rest of what I wrote in that paragraph:

Maybe I'll just call up some old friends who worked at that fine paper in recent years and see if it was "exceedingly common" for them to feed sources quotes when they reported their stories.

Somehow Romm interprets this as me digging for dirt on his father:

Note that in the above quote, he even threatens to try to dig up some dirt on my late-father and his paper, which again, is just far, far beyond the pale of acceptable practice even on the blogosphere.

Huh? Maybe I wasn't being arch enough, but what I'm trying to say here is that I don't believe my contemporaries at his father's old paper actually engage in the practice of feeding sources quotes. I suspect that if I called them up (and I never did), they would cringe in horror at the suggestion. Now, this rebuttal has already gone on too long, so I'll take up a few of the other Romm gems about me in a separate post. But in the meanwhile, I'll leave you with this beaut from him (his emphasis):

Kloor's blog posts this year prove he is an anti-journalist, the Glenn Beck of bloggers.

Joe, I'm glad to see that you've been reading all along. UPDATE: In a follow up response in the comments section at Climate Progress, Romm explains that he meant it figuratively--that I supposedly "trash climate bloggers, day in and day out..." He goes on to amend this statement to: "week in and week out." Never mind that this is still false; Romm can't even bring himself to acknowledge the change in the original post with a customary cross-out. In that same follow-up response, Romm calls me a denier and delayer. Wait, you won't find that there anymore, because he deleted it shortly after I wrote another comment (that never got through his censor) expressing my surprise at this. I had told him that this latest charge struck me as astonishing, because from 2000-2008 I was an editor at Audubon Magazine. During that time, I helped conceive and edit two special issues on climate change. I asked Romm if I was some sort of "denier" mole during my tenure there. Or if I warranted this label because I was critical of him in my blog. I have yet to receive an answer or an explanation as to why he deleted the sentence about me being a denier and delayer. As I understand it, bloggers use cross-outs when textual changes are made,

1 free article left
Want More? Get unlimited access for as low as $1.99/month

Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

1 free articleSubscribe
Discover Magazine Logo
Want more?

Keep reading for as low as $1.99!


Already a subscriber?

Register or Log In

More From Discover
Recommendations From Our Store
Shop Now
Stay Curious
Our List

Sign up for our weekly science updates.

To The Magazine

Save up to 40% off the cover price when you subscribe to Discover magazine.

Copyright © 2023 Kalmbach Media Co.