What Lurks in the Sewer

It’s tempting to dismiss this vulgar hit job on Roger Pielke Jr. as the guerrilla journalism equivalent of Punk’d.

In the months preceding the article’s publication yesterday, the author, Ian Murphy, conducted a lengthy and seemingly legitimate email interview with Roger, who has posted the entire exchange. As Murphy gleefully admits in a comment at Roger’s site,

I guess my disingenuous emails belong to the ages now.
I love you, Ian Murphy

Murphy’s salutation there is the final insult, as it plays off of his phony flattery of Roger during the email exchange.

On the one hand, I think Roger, in titling his post, “A Call for Violence Against Me,”  is reading too much into Murphy’s intent. Sure, Murphy ends his ugly diatribe on this note:

What matters is that Roger Pielke Jr. is the most heinous climate villain academia can muster. He’s a Green Herring, a liar. He doesn’t deserve to be eaten by hyenas from the future. He deserves to be kicked in the nuts in the present.

But before you take this guy too seriously, you should poke around the magazine’s site to appreciate how Murphy treats all his targets. Here’s his opener in a recent piece, titled, “Fuck the Troops”:

So, 4000 rubes are dead. Cry me the Tigris. Another 30,000 have been seriously wounded. Boo fucking hoo. They got what they asked for””and cool robotic limbs, too.

I just hope he didn’t conduct a bunch of phony correspondence with recovering GI’s at Walter Reed in the lead-up to that article.

It’s also obvious that Murphy is trying to have it both ways: he wants the gist of his attack on Roger to be taken seriously, but he also wants people to know that he’s trying hard to be funny and irreverent (instead of just perverse). Here he is in a mock Q & A with one of his colleagues, in a post today, introducing himself as the new boss of his internet magazine:

Q: Now that you’re the editor-in-chief, what can we expect? Same format as the old Beast?

A: Yeah, more-or-less. You should expect more egregious grammatical errors, more original reporting and more personal attacks that border on libel. For instance, I have it on rather good authority that Roger Pielke Jr. smokes crack and molests small children.

This guy knows exactly what he’s doing. Except that he can’t decide if he wants to be a push-the-envelope provocateur or a smear artist.

UPDATE: This commenter at Roger’s site also reflects my sentiments.

8 Responses to “What Lurks in the Sewer”

  1. bigcitylib says:

    Just curious.  Did you ever post anything on Morano’s call for climate scientists to be horsewhipped?  After all, he is a powerful man with connections to the GOP, and runs a very popular website visited by…lets face it…crazy teabaggers.  He’s never apologized for that, as far as I can tell.

  2. Keith Kloor says:

    So what’s your point?

    And as it happens, I did post on that episode.

  3. Sashka says:

    The term for this behavior is trolling. The best treatment is to ignore. Roger should have known better than talking to this guy. You should have known better than talking about him. He craves attention that is best to deny.  Let him stew in his own venom.

  4. Keith Kloor says:


    I hear you, and you’re not the first person to tell me that. As I indicated in my post, I think Roger overreacted a bit (at least with the title), but my issue with this guy goes beyond his preening vulgarity. He misrepresented himself as a legitimate reporter, carrying on this fraudulent interview with Roger, when he knew all along what he was going to do. I have a big problem with that.

  5. bigcitylib says:

    That’s it?  A three liner on Morano, who has enough clout with crazy people to actually do some damage, vs. all the hand-wringing over this clown?


  6. afeman says:

    Every year The Beast produces an article along these lines (http://www.buffalobeast.com/?p=1645) filled with humiliating and often violent comeuppance.  Tastelessness is what they do, look at the “donate now” ad at the upper left.  RPjr is only getting special attention now because it got quashed earlier.
    Can we have another post about how those tribalists at RC linked the following?

  7. Sashka says:


    Understood. Still, pragmatically you achieve nothing but giving the asshole (sorry if this word is not allowed here) extra publicity. If he could receive an internet-equivalent of rotten-egg bombardment then you’d be well justified. But I doubt it’s possible. You cannot make shit dirtier than it is.

  8. Hank Roberts says:

    What Pielke should have said:
    “I am shocked, _shocked_ to find offensive material on the Internet.  This must cease immediately.   Oh, wait.  I am familiar with all Internet traditions, and such abuse is par for the course.”
    A reminder of _why_ to laugh stuff off.  If you take it seriously, you make yourself famous for longer than you might like, for reasons you may well wish to avoid.
    The only thing that can make this kind of thing worse is having a journalist get hold of the story and repeat it.
    “The President confessed to having had limited experience with enraged rabbits. He was unable to reach a definite conclusion about its state of mind. What was obvious, however, was that this large, wet animal, making strange hissing noises and gnashing its teeth, was intent upon climbing into the Presidential boat.
    The President then evidently shooed the critter away from his boat with a paddle…. The incident might have died of natural causes but for the fact that Powell himself later passed the story along to the press….”

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