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Passion of the Scold

Collide-a-ScapeBy Keith KloorFebruary 26, 2009 4:03 AM


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Another day, another screed from Joseph Romm. Joe, do you have any idea how shrill this latest broadside against the New York Times sounds? Yes, there is legitimate debate to be had over the merits of comparing Al Gore to George Will, which is what science reporter Andrew Revkin does in thisTimes piece published today. But your main debating points are lost in a blizzard of 1) meandering digressions on previous Revkin stories that supposedly contain factual errors; 2) inane, childish posturing on the use of "imperfect" word choices (in which you basically say, I'll cop to it, but Andy won't...) and, finally 3) silly asides ("Revkin owes Gore an apology"). Some bloggers, such as my colleague Tom Yulsman, are aghast at Romm's nasty and crude tone, while others, like David Roberts at Grist, are perhaps telegraphing a cryptic message of disapproval. I think Romm is just driven batshit by his own sense of rightousness on the climate issue. He probably doesn't even know when he's being hysterical or inconsistent. For example, just a few weeks ago Romm was lauding Revkin for bringing necessary gravitas and climate change context to the Times' coverage of the Australian fires. (Be forewarned, you need to endure another hectoring Rommian post on how the rest of the media got the story wrong.) Since then, however, the award-winning Revkin seems to have lost his reporting mojo, because now Romm suddenly wonders (in bold, of course):

whether Andy Revkin himself understands the state of climate science today and what happens on our current path of unrestricted emissions. I suggest he reimmerse himself in the recent literature and in discussions with leading climate scientists, if he wants to return to his former position as the leading climate reporter in the country.

Got that, Andy? You better get back up to speed if you want to reclaim that crown. You can start by calling up Al Gore, who "right now," according to Romm, is the "best climate reporter in the country." And Andy, don't forget to apologize to Al.

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