George Will Needs a Fact-Checker? Say It Ain’t So!

July 24th, 2009 · No Comments

Carl Zimmer takes issue with George Will’s “see no evil” approach to global warming and the Washington Post’s mamby-pamby fact-checking:

Will ignores the fact that climate change is a noisy, long-term process. Today it is cooler at my house than it was yesterday. That does not mean that next week I will wake up to find snow on my doorstep. If you look at the annual mean temperature of the planet, you can cherry-pick one year, such as 1998, in order to make the false claim that there is no global warming. Of course, you could just as easily pick 1999, in which case the same logic would force you to conclude that there has been a staggering increase in temperature. But that’s not how climate scientists actually study global warming. They look at long term patterns, such as the red line in this graph from NASA, which represents the five-year mean since 1880. And when they do, they recognize a long-term trend of rising temperatures.

Zimmer goes on to quote the dodge made by the WaPo Ombudsman (shorter: Will is a columnist on the opinions page, so opinions don’t have to be so rigorously fact-checked) and laments the ongoing poor presentation of scientific information by mainstream corporate media.

I sympathize, of course, and wish the news media were more diligent about important issues that affect the fate of our species — like, say, Kim Jong Il lobbing warheads into the Sea of Japan, rather than CNN turning itself into 24-7 MJNN. But no one is going to get George Will to backtrack, and no one at WaPo has the temerity (to use a Willy word) to broach the subject with the nerdy blowhard. If they started with global warming, why not proceed to all the other disinformation he has been spreading these past 30 odd years? And why stop with George Will when Charles Krauthammer is only a click away? Why does David Broder’s inane “conventional wisdom” get a pass? And that’s just the op/ed pages, nevermind the news divisions that pass on Pentagon dictation and used Dick Cheney as a “confidential high-level source.”

All that is beyond Zimmer’s immediate concerns for the low level of scientific knowledge among the public. Yet the fact is, news is broken. The industry itself is collapsing, but even when it thrived, it spewed disinformation like an upchucking baby.

Hey, are you looking for an In Contempt strip today? Me, too!


Tags: climate change · science