Fox's Stage Management

Ok, everybody who’s shocked by the news of this internal email communication raise their hands. Fox News is slanted? And that slant is being enforced by its producers?

Look, it’s always good when stuff like this comes to light, if only to further puncture the absurd facade that Fox is actually [cough, cough] “fair and balanced.”  Just as it is similarly revealing when the top exec at Fox News refers to NPR brass as Nazis and goes on a rip-roaring rant against Jon Stewart. I mean, anyone familiar with Roger Ailes and his history as a Republican operative was probably not shocked by that outburst, either. But for the folks who pay only passing attention to Fox News’s role in the journalistic ecosystem, it’s useful information.

Anyway, I see that Joe Romm is playing this up as “Foxgate” and a “bombshell,” before getting a grip:

Well, okay, this would be a bombshell email coming from any other news organization in the world.

Which pretty much sums up my take.

55 Responses to “Fox's Stage Management”

  1. Barry Woods says:

    That is certainly an interesting ‘take’ on the story…

    to me, it indicates that journalist are being reminded to be, well ‘journalists’ and not just a medium for press releases for interested parties.

    Bishop Hill has a different take on it..

    http://bishophill.squarespace.com/blog/2010/12/15/uncertainty-its-old-hat.html

    In the wake of Climategate there were many earnest expressions of concern about the way that uncertainties had been downplayed by many climate scientists. Even some of the people most associated with the CAGW cause were heard to repeat these statements of regret.
    Remember that?
    Apparently, it doesn’t apply any more.
    There has been a bit of a kerfuffle (well, quite a lot of a kerfuffle actually) among the same kind of people over a report that a Fox News editor had told his staff to make sure that viewers were told that any claims about temperature trends were based on disputed data. His email apparently found its way into the public arena.

    “[We should] refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

    To me though, this looks rather commendable. The data (and indeed the adjustments applied to it) are hotly disputed, so what the viewers were being told was undoubtedly true. And Fox’s actions seem admirably even-handed too, with journalists told that statements about both warming and cooling should carry this same caveat.
    So why then have all the usual suspects suddenly gone into overdrive as if heresy had been committed?
    To me it seems that Fox News are being crucified for failing to make clear statements of faith. And despite all the repentance expressed by the sinners of the past, it appears that no lessons have actually been learned.

  2. Barry Woods says:

    THe BBC did the opposite in the UK (AGW and the Guardain)…. noone except the sceptics got upset about that

  3. Keith Kloor says:

    Barry, the good bishop is filtering this through his own lens. Just as he is inclined to downplay it (or laud the email as “commendable”), the other side of the spectrum is making excessive hay of it, slapping on the predictable “gate” and so on.

    Those who don’t view Fox with a rose colored lens know that this email is  just standard operating procedure.

  4. Obviously I’m no fan of Fox News, and frequently bork at the suggestion that it’s “fair and balanced”, but if anyone was going to seize on any internal memo as proof of bias, this is not the one. Is it untrue that the temperature records are hotly contested? Does the memo not say “warmed (or cooled)“?
     
    All news agencies suck. They’re all pants. None of them hold to the tenets of journalistic impartiality, none of them ever do more than feign balance. Fox News included, not a Fox News exclusive.
     
    As for the following:
     
    It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.


    The only surprise is that this came from a source as notoriously biased as Fox News. But the sentiment is absolutely correct, regardless of the source. This is dispassionate journalism 101.
     
    I’m simply appalled that a journalist can read the memo and object to its message, unless he really DOES think “the science is settled”. That being the case, the journalist is either an idiot or a phoney.

  5. Keith Kloor says:
    Yup, Sashka, I guess this is a good example of Tapscot’s  fair and balanced coverage:

    “The back story here, of course, is that Media Matters is doing exactly what billionaire radical liberal financier George Soros paid it $1 million to do, which is to trash Fox News at every opportunity no matter what the facts might be in any given situation.

    Nobody needs to trash Fox News. It does a fine job demeaning itself. That’s why Jon Stewart, who regularly highlights this in hilarious fashion, inspired such an unhinged personal attack from Roger Ailes, which I referenced in my post.

  6. KK: “Barry, the good bishop is filtering this through his own lens.”
     
    So it’s a “well, he would say that, wouldn’t he?” is it? Ad hom circumstantial arguments suck, Keith. They should be beneath you.
     
    Much of what has come to light this past year relates to the deliberate concealment and/or downplaying of inherent uncertainties in the numbers and in the physics, and your objection is what? Acknowledgement of uncertainties? Recognition that the scientific debate is not over? Seriously, Keith, what gives?

  7. Keith Kloor says:

    Simon,

    Not seeing how pointing out Bish’s own ideological filter is an ad hom. We all have our own political, cultural, ideological filters. For example, here’s a commenter at Tapscott’s site pointing out Tap’s filter:

    “In a moment to rival the sun rising in the east, a conservative journalist for a conservative paper writes a piece defending a conservative former journalist working for a conservative network. And he counts him as a friend to top it off? When you hang your hat on that nobody from Media Matters is in the hall it strikes some of us as odd that you don’t tell us when Mr. Sammon was himself inducted? For that matter where are the other Fox hosts and executives? Oh wait, the obligatory George Soros reference was done as an objective display of those HOF credentials. Of course when the mentioned HOF inducts 55 people in it’s first three classes…well, go ahead and draw your own conclusions. The simple truth is Bill Sammon is a conservative and Fox News is a conservative media outlet. Any notion otherwise is on par with the moon made of cheese, Cheney really wanted to serve in Vietnam, and Larry Craig simply had a wide stance. Sure thing.

  8. Sashka says:

    Keith,

    I didn’t mean to take sides. I just wanted to point out another POV.

    You can nitpick on Tapscott all you want (see if I care) but you hardly addressed his (not mine!) basic point: essentially Sammon said nothing wrong. If you wish to address that it would be more interesting than trashing FOX in general. It’s a rather boring sport indeed.

    I don’t know whether or not Soros actually gave them money. But if he did then I’d say that Tapscott’s argument does carry some weight as a circumstantial evidence.

    Nobody needs to trash Fox News.

    I believe this is grossly incorrect. We are talking about an ideological war. However fine a job Fox does shooting itself in the feet it never hurts to shoot them some more. That’s how Jon Stewart makes a living.

  9. Keith Kloor says:

    Sashka (9),

    I’m supposed to be working towards deadlines today, so I’m already screwing up by getting too involved in this back and forth.

    Anyway, in answer to your question, I think Stromberg, in this   WaPo commentary, nails the strawman concocted by the Fox News producer. Here’s an excerpt from Stromberg:

    “Serious climate-science skeptics, and there are a few, don’t really contest the idea that global warming is happening. More coherent criticisms of the commonly accepted temperature record focus on scientists’ estimates of much earlier periods and how they compare to the climate change we’re seeing now. Sammon, though, makes even the most obvious climate science seem like it might be the sort of superstition that would compel your grandmother to keep a ball of cat fur in a leather glove under her holiday crèche. You know, just in case.”

  10. Dean says:

    In the end, this comes down – again – to where journalists make judgments about accuracy. The Apollo 11 moon landing is contested heatedly by some, but no news media feels the need to mention that. While some details of the temperature record can be contested with substantive concerns, I’m not aware that these concerns are broad enough to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period.”

  11. Steven Sullivan says:

    Kudos to KK for kicking the hornet’s nest. ;>
     
     

  12. Steven Sullivan says:

    Meant to add — I  don’t take Fox ‘news’ seriously.  But every day I see their shamelessly  slanted headlines — sometime practically orthogonal to the ledes from all the others news sources on the very same topic — topping the lists on my  Google News feed.   A lot of people online are either getting lulz, or are taking their spew seriously.   That’s on top of the popular televised Fox news madness.     To write their malfeasance off as not worthy of comment compared to, say, a similar revelation about the NYTimes or Wall Street Journal, has perils of its own.
     
     
     

  13. Keith: “Not seeing how pointing out Bish’s own ideological filter is an ad hom.”
    It’s an ad hominem circumstantial fallacy to use Bish’s worldview in your dismissal of his observation.
     
    “Serious climate-science skeptics, and there are a few, don’t really contest the idea that global warming is happening. More coherent criticisms of the commonly accepted temperature record focus on scientists’ estimates of much earlier periods and how they compare to the climate change we’re seeing now. Sammon, though, makes even the most obvious climate science seem like it might be the sort of superstition that would compel your grandmother to keep a ball of cat fur in a leather glove under her holiday crèche. You know, just in case.”


    This is simply not an accurate summary, and as a climate change journalist with an eye for balance you ought to know it. While it’s true that climate sceptics don’t disagree that there is warming, the extent of the warming IS contested. Hansen’s GISS figures, and the way he reaches them, are particularly circumspect here | here | here | here. (I don’t give a damn if the source is WUWT, I judge the material rather than the source). Jones’ 1990 paper on UHI is a significant issue, with massive implications for the CRU temperature series, now even hacked to pieces by NASA’s own observational studies. It’s simply not true that Mann’s paleoclimate reconstructions are the principle bone of scientific contention for climate sceptics. Climate sensitivity to CO2 is fundamentally unresolved across the board, with nobody agreeing on a figure. Even the greenhouse gas theory needs close scrutiny. There are many other issues. Countless, it seems. This is not settled science on any level, Keith, and there is nothing wrong and everything right with a news agency acknowledging it. Even Fox.

  14. Dean says:

    “Climate sensitivity to CO2 is fundamentally unresolved across the board, with nobody agreeing on a figure.”
     
    Whatever your doubts are Simon, the above statement is factually incorrect. Many people agree on a range, very many, just not everybody.

  15. harrywr2 says:

    ‘if only to further puncture the absurd facade that Fox is actually [cough, cough] “fair and balanced.” ‘
    Everyone has cognitive filters, which means we all filter out information that may or may not provide a more accurate perception of reality.
    Judges go to extreme efforts to be ‘fair’, but they can’t see past their own filters, so we have juries of 12 to guard against a miscarriage of justice do to the judges filters and we have 9 supreme court justices rather then 1.
    I’m pretty sure all judges perceive themselves to be ‘fair and balanced’. The Supreme Court frequently splits 5-4.
     
     
     
     
     

  16. Dean says:

    Judith Curry has been exploring CO2 sensitivity lately and as she c0ncludes that a no-feedback sensitivity is almost certainly less than 1°C (the accepted IPCC value).
    http://judithcurry.com/2010/12/11/co2-no-feedback-sensitivity/#more-1476
    I think Simon’s point is valid… There is significant disagreement on what that value is (which is why we see ranges from 1°C to 6°C)

  17. Dean M says:

    “she c0ncludes that a no-feedback sensitivity is almost certainly less than 1°C”
     
    Does this constitute “significant disagreement” or just one scientist’s opinion (albeit with a few more)?
     
    It seems that skeptics grab onto any single blog or study that supports their point of view, and then declare that nothing is proven. Those from a different POV can point to dozens of studies that come to essentially the same conclusion, but this means almost nothing if one person in one blog entry disagrees – and uses equations in their blog so as to be taken seriously.
     
    If this was the way science worked, then almost nothing would ever be accepted and almost no progress would be made. Curry often speaks of the Precautionary Principle, but this is the same thing in reverse in spades. These various skeptical blog entries need to pass muster before they can be taken seriously.
     
    PS – I’m now posting as Dean M to differentiate myself from the person who just posted as Dean, but I’m the person who has been posting here as Dean for some weeks. Given the confusion, I think it is fair to ask that this other Dean also extend his posting ID to somehow differentiate his posts from me.

  18. Dean_1230 says:

    Dean, Please continue posting as Dean… I’ll switch! 

    I apologize for causing confusion, not my intention

  19. Sashka says:

    Serious climate-science skeptics, and there are a few, don’t really contest the idea that global warming is happening.

    Depending on what is is. Even seriously alarmed climate scientists (and there are many) don’t contest that there is no warming since 1998. So it’s an exercise in statistics now. Once again, what is wrong about saying it?

    But I really really love this attitude expressed in the off-hand admission “and there are a few“. So much is delivered in so few words. The speaker gets to decide who is serious  and who isn’t. He counts those who passed the bar as a few. He implies that this is a small minority. And he gets to select something from their view of the world that suits his interests of the day. Great stuff.
     

  20. “Does this constitute “significant disagreement” or just one scientist’s opinion (albeit with a few more)?”
     
    It seems everyone puts a different figure to it, which is what in my opinion constitutes either great uncertainty or significant disagreement. Either which way, Judith makes her case well regarding the CO2 no-feedback sensitivity. Add feedbacks into the mix and the disputes again flow thick and fast. Reasonably, this can only be described as “significant disagreement”.
     
    “It seems that skeptics grab onto any single blog or study that supports their point of view, and then declare that nothing is proven.”


    With respect that’s a naive view, which greatly misrepresents the source of sceptical viewpoints. I was going to fisk your post to pieces, but suffice it to say that there isn’t anything of substance to challenge. Citations needed.

  21. Sashka says:

    @ Dean (15)

    You are 100% correct. Virtually everyone agrees that the range is between 1 and 10 degrees. Do you see a problem though?
     

  22. Barry Woods says:

    3#

    I would love to see the BBC’s emails or the Guardians’, internal emails about climategate, IPCC, Enquiries, need I list more…
    I imgaine they would be NOT as balanced as Fox’s sounds… 😉

    I don’t watch Fox, (in the UK)

    But it sounds like a sensible position for a journalist to take..

    Note they said cooling as well… So advice applied equally to sceptics saying the world is going to coo l (those astro-physicists)

    Again, I’ve only thought of Fox in terms of it’s reputation put out here, and elsewhere…

    Given this statemement, they sound like offering good journalistic advice!!!!! 😉

    “[We should] refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.”

    And:

    It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

    Are Fox, considered to be more of a tabloid than say, The Daily Mail, for example, where do they fit?

  23. Steven Sullivan says:

    Sashka #20 asserts
    “Depending on what is is. Even seriously alarmed climate scientists (and there are many) don’t contest that there is no warming since 1998.”
     
    Wrong on several counts.  First, saying there is no warming at a 95% confidence level over a 10-15 yr period is NOT saying ‘there is no warming’.   Second, picking 1998 ,  a ‘peak’ year , as the starting point, is egregious cherry-picking.  Third,  surface temps, which is what you are talking about, are not the only indicator of global warming.
     
    Why don’t you guys (and the few gals) face the fact that global warming is real, and still happening?  So many former ‘skeptics’ have at *least* done that, and have long since moved on to other strained arguments like, ‘who knows, maybe it will be good for us’ .
     
     

  24. Steven Sullivan says:

    I would love to see the BBC’s emails or the Guardians’, internal emails about climategate, IPCC, Enquiries, need I list more”¦
    I imgaine they would be NOT as balanced as Fox’s sounds”¦
     
    Both the BBC and the Guardian have regularly fallen for the ‘false balance’ fallacy on climate matters. ..seeking out ‘skeptic’ viewpoints to balance a mainstream science report.    
    I ‘imagine’ you haven’t actually been reading the Guardian’s coverage of ‘climategate’, if you think it’s all been pro-CRU.
    If so, look up Fred Pearce’s ouevre from the past year, which has come under some fire from scientists and bloggers for occasionally substituting insinuation for fact.
     
     

  25. Steven Sullivan says:

    quotes should be around the first two ‘grafs there. ..it’s Barry WOods’ post # 23

  26. Sashka says:

    @ Steven (24)

    Thank you for selective quoting. First you omit ” it’s an exercise in statistics now”. Then you immediately proceed to a statistical statement. OK, let’s play it on your terms. So at what confidence level there is a warming over last 10 years? Note that I am letting you off the 1998 hook. BTW, do you need help finding quotes from qualified non-skeptical scientists who agree that we have been experiencing a temp plateau?

    saying there is no warming at a 95% confidence level over a 10-15 yr period is NOT saying “˜there is no warming’

    Try reading my comment again. I said “depending on what is is” and you just confirmed it by trying to redefine what is is.

    Finally (and it really gets funny right there) you want to re-define what GW warming is. All right. So it’s not surface temps. What is it?

    On the subject of cherry-picking. The conventional measure of CO2-induced GW is warming since 1860. This is about the time when LIA ended so choosing this particular time as baseline is – you guessed it – egregious cherry-picking.

    If you make an effort to read what I write you’ll find that I never disputed that we experienced warming in the XX century and that CO2 has a warming effect. As for everything else please show me the proof.

  27. Bishop Hill says:

    Keith

    My handy copy of Madsen Pirie’s “How to Win Every Argument” tells me that you have committed the logical fallacy of the circumstantial ad hominem. But I forgive you. 😉

    It seems to me unarguable that Sammon’s instruction to his journalists would have thrown equal doubt on mainstream claims (“it’s warmed since 1980) and sceptic ones (“it hasn’t warmed since 2000”). It is also unarguable that the data and methods used are disputed. If either of these claims were made without suitable expressions of doubt, wouldn’t the viewer be misled?

    And wasn’t this what everybody agreed should happen in the wake of Climategate?

  28. Shub says:

    To the good Bishop,
    Please…! You are a skeptical blogger and you have to be put in place – incapable of viewing anything without ‘filters’. If you had pointed out the above as a card-carrying member of the profession, then you might have deserved some support.

  29. Eli Rabett says:

    Curry has been using the Cheshire cat trick.  Defining the no feedback CO2 forcing in her own peculiar way

  30. Huge Difference says:

    How many times do you need to read Media Matters, or FAIR, or Atrios, or Glenn Greenwald, or half a dozen feminist blogs to understand that NPR, yes I wrote NPR, is not the unbiased, objective, neutral, never partisan, never nude, non-Heisenburgian, perfect measuring and reporting stick you reflexively want to believe it is.
     
    It’s no duh that FOX is biased.  It’s also no duh that there is in fact and measurable a huge status quo, huge pro-corporation, huge, pro-government, pro-my-lazy-ignorant-reporting-ass-represents-the-consensus-view over at NPR.  And at this blog, and at many blogs and media outlets.
    Fox’s problem is not that they are biased, it’s that they know they are biased and unbalanced and yet claim to be fair and balanced.
     
    NPR’s problem, and this blog’s problem, is not that you are biased, it’s that you claim to be fair and balanced while not realizing how biased and unbalanced you are.
     
    I honestly don’t know who is worse, FOX, which recognizes they are liars, or NPR and this blog and others, that seemingly do think they are neutral, unbiased, objective, perfect measuring tools.

  31. It’s 5 years or more since I lived in the US, but I assume that things haven’t changed in the intervening time. There is no obligation it seems, either assumed or perceived, that news agencies will actually deliver on balanced, bias-free journalism. It’s as if the ad hom circumstantial logical fallacy is completely disregarded. Fox reports with its biases, as does MSNBC, CNN and all the rest. Each talk completely past each other, presenting in their politically coloured ways in the full expectation that other news organisations will do the same. It’s a systemic failing which diminishes the value of journalism to nought, supplanting echo chambers in its place.
     
    It’s no surprise, therefore, that KK is unfamiliar with the fallacy of circumstantial ad hominem arguments. In his world, it’s wholly accepted. But here in the UK, it isn’t accepted. There is a legal obligation on news organisations to adhere to accuracy in reporting and, though the agencies are allowed to be partisan, they are bound to frame opinion as opinion rather than as fact.
     
    The UK system generally doesn’t work very effectively but it is, for now, enshrined in the Press Complaints Commission code of practice. Unfortunately this is likely to change because, as part of a deal struck with Murdoch, the Conservatives have promised to diminish this burden of accuracy.
     
    And yeah, there is a left-bias here. I don’t mind it, but I’m not ready to pretend that it isn’t there. Keith’s view that WUWT and Romm are two sides of the same coin is symptomatic, but his general lack of journalistic scepticism in climate matters and his frequent (if not invariable) defaulting to the politicised “climate consensus” view is a more clear marker.

  32. I should correct this: “There is a legal obligation on news organisations to adhere to accuracy in reporting [..]”. The obligation isn’t so much legal as regulatory. Though there are legal ramifications for transgression, they’re civil (fines etc) and not typically criminal in nature. Other aspects of the PCC COP do have prosecutable implications, including invasions of privacy etc.

  33. Stu says:

    Seems some of the Guardian writers have pretty strong  ‘ideological filters’ of their own
     
    http://www.bishop-hill.net/blog/2010/12/16/a-timeline.html#comments

  34. Tom C says:

    Mr. Kloor –

    Several years back, Ted Turner instructed CNN to not report on anything said or claimed by a “skeptic”.  Nary a word of MSM criticism.  Did it bother you?

  35. Dean says:

    Sashka #22 – My point in that particular response was that Judith Curry’s recent blog post on sensitivity does not, in itself, change the understanding of sensitivity – yet. Maybe in time it will. The IPCC has a sensitivity range that many ascribe to. There are others who disagree, and no, not all people agree that it is between 1 and 10 degrees.
     
    But I think the broader point in this post, where some are arguing that Fox NC instruction only represents the reality of skepticism, is what level of agreement (or lack thereof) justifies the kind of statement that led to this post. Is there enough disagreement regarding the temperature record to justify that statement to their employees? I don’t think so.
     
    But for those of you who do, I would ask this. What is the threshold level at which you would think such a statement is no longer justified? How would we define the point at which there is enough agreement – despite some scientist somewhere disagreeing – that the media no longer needs to add caveats that were in that instruction.

  36. Dean, check the date of that memo. It was just 3 weeks after the Climategate email release. That release raised genuine matters of concern regarding the integrity of climate science, of the global mean temperature histories, the peer review process, the manipulation of graphical representations of climate data and the cancerous invasion of ideological/political advocacy into the subject. It was months before 3 enquiries purportedly exonerated the scientists involved and declared the science to be unharmed.
     
    Please feel free to explain, in the light of the volume of information contained in the Climategate email/document release, how this memo is somehow inappropriately cautionary?

  37. kdk33 says:

    Fox news is what it is.  AFAICT, Fox beats all other news channels – hands down, across the board, not even close.

    Seems that viewers are biased towards Fox.  Perhaps that matters.

  38. Pascvaks says:

    “Everyone sees the World through rose* colored glasses.”

    People are prejudiced!  Journalism has always been about telling the truth as someone sees it, for a fee.  Life’s a beach!  It’s full of sand and salt water and oxygen too.  Very corrosive stuff.  And that’s the truth!

    * ‘rose’ – a color that cannot be defined precisely as there are an infinite number of variations.

  39. Jack Hughes says:

    Fox Derangement Syndrome is triggered by the existence of a TV news channel that isn’t left-wing.

  40. keith kloor says:

    Simon (37),
    Charlie Petit at Science Journalism Tracker also explains why the Fox memo is absurd.

  41. I read it Keith. Petit’s stated objections to the memo are petty, his extrapolations absurd.
     
    He says “But look closely and it falls apart.” Such genius. Look closely at a photo in a magazine and it falls apart too. It’s just a bunch of meaningless coloured dots. Check out your computer monitor. That’s just a bunch of meaningless pixels too.. if you “look closely”, any way. For a bit of irony, look really closely at your monitor while viewing this page.
     
    Petit is careful but quite transparent in his abuse of context. He describes sceptics as “unnamed ‘critics'”. Unnamed? Is he an idiot? Was that a silly question? But note how he pits these purportedly unnamed critics against “legitimate scientists”. You don’t see this process, this subtle adjective feature of language he exploits, do you Keith?
     
    Petit pretends that there’s little disagreement between “legitimate scientists”. If you’ve learned nothing else over the last year, Keith, it should be the meaningless of the “consensus”, both in definitively scientific terms and also in extent or value. But somehow you haven’t picked up on that over the last year. Meanwhile, however, you think Bish’s view is coloured?
     
    There’s a lot more to go at in Petit’s piece, with many conflations which are lubricated by the irrelevantly obvious, and all of which amount to a pathetically over-verbose attack on a substantially unimportant memo. Take a step back, Keith, it really is just ridiculous.

  42. Dean says:

    Simon – email is just talk. People often say and suggest doing things that with more time they don’t follow up on. That’s why investigations were required – to see what actually happened. Furthermore, the focus of the few emails that got the attention was narrow compared to the physical evidence for a changing climate.
     
    And if the fact that the memo went out just after the release is significant, then was the memo retracted when the multiple investigations turned up no wrongdoing?

  43. Dean, would you be willing to address the request I made at #37, i.e. in the context of the timing of the memo, being post-Climategate and pre-enquiries?

  44. Sashka says:

    Where’s Sullivan?

  45. willard says:

    I believe Eli meant Humpty Dumpty:
     
    “I don’t know what you mean by “˜glory,’ “ Alice said.
    Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t””till I tell you. I meant “˜there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!’ “
    “But “˜glory’ doesn’t mean “˜a nice knock-down argument’,” Alice objected.
    “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in a rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean””neither more nor less.”
    “The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
    “The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master      that’s all.”
    Alice was too much puzzled to say anything, so after a minute Humpty Dumpty began again. “They’ve a temper, some of them””particularly verbs, they’re the proudest””adjectives you can do anything with, but not verbs””however, I can manage the whole lot! Impenetrability! That’s what I say!”[15]
     
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humpty_Dumpty

  46. Stu says:

    I have more respect for and more trust in Andrew Montford when it comes to contemporary reporting on climate matters, than I do in someone like Andy Revkin or even Fred Pearce, who for my money had the best handle on the climategate events amongst the mainstream journalists. I was especially disappointed that Andy Revkin apparently couldn’t even be bothered reading The Hockeystick Illusion for himself… instead he simply and lazily (imo) decided to let Real Climate do the thinking for him on that one, and even more disappointingly, encouraged other people to do likewise. In signalling his disinterest towards what is still probably the best account of the major criticisms put forward by the current skeptical wave, contextualising climategate,  etc, this was a cop out as far as I’m concerned. Especially when it’s impacting on your supposed main field of interest. Revkin should have been interested in The HSI. But he just passed it on by as if it was an irrellevance. And maybe it is. But Andy Revkin doesn’t know that, since he’s apparently never read it.
     
    I don’t know if Revkin considers himself an investigative journalist or just a normal, run of the mill type of journalist- but from where I’m standing, Montford is doing the better investigative journalism.

  47. Steven Sullivan says:

    “Thank you for selective quoting. First you omit “ it’s an exercise in statistics now”. Then you immediately proceed to a statistical statement. OK, let’s play it on your terms. So at what confidence level there is a warming over last 10 years? Note that I am letting you off the 1998 hook. BTW, do you need help finding quotes from qualified non-skeptical scientists who agree that we have been experiencing a temp plateau?”
     
    You’re going with a *shorter* time period and asking what the confidence level is in warming?   That tells me you just aren’t getting it.     I understand that science legitimately involves ‘exercises in statistics’  — indeed a great many scientific facts are statement of probability at their root.   Phil Jones understands that too.  Do we really need to parse his BBC  interview here?
     
    As for ‘what is global warming’ — no , it’s not just surface temperatures (land) .  It’s oceans too.  Evidence for it comes from  measures of temperature as well as  of melting polar ice and rising sea levels.  This is AGW 101.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     

  48. Steven Sullivan says:

    And let’s take the Fox memo on its face, bolding mine:
    Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

     
    So Fox instructed its drones to IMMEDIATELY contest the idea that the climate has warmed since 2009…or since 1950.
    The period doesn’t matter to Fox.  Does matter to scientists.
     
     
     
     
     

  49. Jon P says:

    So Fox instructed its drones to IMMEDIATELY contest the idea that the climate has warmed since 2009″¦or since 1950.

    Uh no Steven. What the Fox memo states is not to assert (state as a fact) that it is warming without mentioning there are people who disagree.

    They report, you decide, but I understand how some of y’all like to decide before the report.

    I really do not understand this article and KK opinion on this. So you would prefer that Fox news just report the “consensus view” and that would be “fair and balanced”?
    Why don’t we ask ask Keith Olbermann? I am sure he will provide us the true neutral journalistic answer we all seek.
     

  50. Steven Sullivan says:

    Jon #50 glided past my point — indeed, what  Petit wrote about too —  i.e., the absurdity of questioning the veracity of claims about warming over any given period.  There’s also  the absurdity of telling journalists to report on global climate change as if 40 years of data from not just from CRU, but from NASA, NOAA,  and all measures of ice melt and sea level rise, indeed, all papers indicating AGW published by independent scientists around the world —   in other words, all of our evidence that global warming has been happening in the latter part of the 20th C — is on the table because of  the “Climategate’ emails and the hysterical response thereto.
     
     
    Reporters routinely use the rhetoric ‘ Scientists say’ or ‘A recent report from scientists says …’   or ‘The current scientific view is that…’  to absolve themselves of actually having to understand what they’re reporting.  That’s fine, we don’t require them to experts themselves, and the rhetoric itself is accurate: it *is* scientists who are reporting their findings; the journalist is reporting on the report.  What’s not fine is to mandate a false sense of balance between a fringe and a central tendency.
     
     
     
     

  51. Steven Sullivan says:

    Fixed, for use as an internal memo by other news outlets:
     
    “Given the controversy over the integrity of Fox News’ reporting on climate change,  we should refrain from citing its reports without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that they are  based on editorial practices that critics have called into question.   It is not our place as journalists to serve as conduits for ideological spin without comment,  particularly as the debate intensifies.”


    (alter as necessary for reporting based on Cato Institute, Heritage Foundation,  etc., white papers)
     

  52. Jon P says:

    Thanks for the laugh Steven. I pictured you in a raging dance with spittle flying,  feet stomping. Your hysterical reaction to a simple memo and a simple comment provides me all the information I need to know about your judgement of issues and how you may question things. I am certain both are very similar to those of the aforementioned Mr. Olbermann.

    Have fun in your box.

  53. Thanks right back. Your ‘picture’ actually made me laugh,  which is rare for clowns.

  54. Jon P says:

    I’m glad you are able to laugh at yourself, the occurrence must be frequent.

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