The Climate Change Asylum

By Keith Kloor
Feb 19, 2010 10:14 PMNov 20, 2019 1:29 AM


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I have no problem with a leading climate scientist taking issue with how the media portrays his profession. And if Gavin Schmidt would have kept his criticism of recent press coverage limited to the UK, he'd be on semi-solid ground. (He'd also be vulnerable to charges of mischaracterizing this coverage as one big "fact-free" monolith.) But Schmidt leaves reality behind when he goes after two American journalists in this manner:

Two relatively prominent and respected US commentators "“ Curtis Brainard at CJR and Tom Yulsman in Colorado "“ have both bemoaned the fact that the US media (unusually perhaps) has not followed pell-mell into the fact-free abyss of their UK counterparts.

No doubt Schmidt is being sarcastic here, for surely he doesn't mean that two "prominent and respected US commentators" would be advocating for "fact-free" journalism. No, what Schmidt is really saying is that all this stuff about the IPCC and its chairman, and those stolen emails from a few months ago warrants little legitimate media coverage. Michael Tobis, nodding his head, writes:

Just because there are lunatics willing to spin a sort of tale doesn't make it, you know, actual news.

Yulsman's rejoinder over there is worth noting, especially this:

Just because I and many other science journalists believe this story should be covered doesn't mean that we are advocating for shoddy journalism. All I called for was for journalists here to follow the story wherever it leads. If it leads to a conclusion that the accusations have been blown up all out of proportion, then that is the story. But right now, all Americans are getting is Sean Hannity, Glenn Beck, Rush Limbaugh and other bloviators of their ilk who are filling the vacuum left by the absence of responsible journalism. Are you actually saying that you would like to cede the playing field to them? Or that if the press ignores the story it will just go away. If you believe that you are more naive than I thought.

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