Woman-Power

Patriarchy in the news, 8/21/16

Woman-Power

I haven’t done one of these in a while, but there is so much out there.

First up, trending on Twitter is #thingsfeministmenhavesaidtome. There are surprises, but the golden oldies are well represented, such as these:

“You’re just assuming all guys are like that, which is pretty sexist.”
“Aren’t you generalizing men if you discuss patriarchy? Don’t alienate allies now.”
“I consider myself more of a humanist.”
“Just because women think something is sexist doesn’t mean it automatically is, you know.”
“I support feminism, but I think women need to lighten up.”
I guess a hashtag things”feminist”menhavesaidtome might not work as well.

Continue reading

CATEGORY: ScienceTechnology

Good science. Bad blogging.

CriticalThinking300Bad science journalism is almost as bad as bad science, perhaps worse in some ways, insofar as it may popularize error where there had been none before. Carping about bad science blogging, on the other hand, should probably be beneath me, at least most of the time, because hey, at least there’s folks trying, right? Isn’t this just another case of XKCD’s “someone is wrong on the Internet?

Well, here’s two examples. I’ll let the critical reader decided for themselves whether or not they serve to engender better critical reading more generally speaking. Continue reading

Here’s to Henry

Bukowski would have been 96 today…

How do I pay tribute to a man who both enriched and destroyed my life? If I had never read his work I’d be less of a boozer than I am, but also less of a human being. Charles Bukowski would have been 96 years old today, and I have praised and cursed his very existence with every gulp of cheap beer or sip of fine rum that I have ever taken.

(↑Kiyokawa, Tokyo 2012)

Continue reading

Journalism

CNN (and others) and its overuse of anonymity: There’s more to the story …

First, there’s this headline:

Secret Service spoke to Trump campaign about 2nd Amendment comment

CATEGORY: Journalism Then there’s this lede graf:

(CNN) — A US Secret Service official confirms to CNN that the USSS has spoken to the Trump campaign regarding his Second Amendment comments.

Then there’s this second graf that does not identify “the official”:

“There has been more than one conversation’ on the topic, the official told CNN.

Then there’s this fifth graf: Continue reading

CATEGORY: Baby Boomers

Judge not the group; rather, see the individual

By Carole McNall

ICATEGORY: Baby Boomers’m a female baby boomer.

Knowing that, what do you know about my politics and points of view?

Absolutely nothing.

But wait, you might argue: I know a couple of things that should allow me to predict what shaped your world view.

Really? Let’s test that theory.

Baby boomers are classically defined as those born between 1946 and 1964. That’s an 18-year span. Consider, for a moment, how different the world would look for people at varied points along that span.

John F. Kennedy was assassinated in 1963. Continue reading

Trump, WaPo and the GOP: gutless politicians, tepid journalism

Apropos of Denny’s insighful analysis earlier today, the Washington Post blows the headline.

Instead of

Broad array of military luminaries condemn Trump over attacks on Khan family

a less gutless rag would have gone with

Broad array of military luminaries condemn Trump over attacks on Khan family but none withdraw endorsements

‪#‎justsaying‬ ‪#‎profilesincourage‬

Politics: Democrats vs Republicans

Congressional honor? A breeder of hope? Hold not your breath …

As honor dwindles, so does hope.

Screen Shot 2016-07-30 at 10.02.11 AMIs hope a descendant of honor?

If if is, perhaps a little hope can be derived from recent statements of members of Congress in response to the lunacy of the GOP candidate for president. Donald “I am your voice” Trump has rashly criticized two Americans who lost their son to combat in a foreign land. Trump did this, apparently, because Khizr and Ghazala Khan are Muslim Americans from Pakistan.

Some Republican members of Congress have repudiated Trump’s remarks.

From Sen. John McCain of Arizona: “While our party has bestowed upon him the nomination, it is not accompanied by unfettered license to defame those who are the best among us.”

From Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire, who is seeking re-election: “I am appalled that Donald Trump would disparage [the Khans] and that he had the gall to compare his own sacrifices to those of a Gold Star family.”

Continue reading

Adam Silver NBA Hb2

Hey Brian Windhorst: The NC legislature held a special session to PASS #HB2. Why can’t they do the same to repeal it?

I love Brian Windhorst, but he needs to get his act together on this one.

The NBA is mulling pulling the All-Star Game from Charlotte over the state’s reprehensible HB2 “bathroom law.” Good – this is as it should be.

But the ESPN story cited here, penned by NBA reporter Brian Windhorst (whom I really really like), has a little problem. Not massive, but important. Here’s the quote: Continue reading

cm_logo_image-e1427478632990

An American president under age 35? Oh, my …

Captain Morgan’s real campaign premise here is just to increase its share of the rum market.

Tcm_logo_image-e1427478632990rump (age 70) vs. Clinton (age 68)? This is the best choice the vaunted two-party system can provide for Americans?

If they’d like better, they ought to begin drinking rum. Especially Captain Morgan, a brand owned by Diageo, which bills itself as “the world’s leading premium drinks business.”

Captain Morgan will campaign for a constitutional change — allowing American residents under 35 years old to serve as president.  A petition is already parked at the White House, hopeful of attracting at least 100,000 signees.

According to AdAge, “The effort will get significant paid support, including a print ad running in Tuesday’s New York Times.” Continue reading

Donald Trump

New Yorker starts analysis of Trump with, “honestly…”

What have we learned about that?

Well, actually, the headline is just a hair away from that, “Being honest about Trump.” I think it qualifies, though. So would WSJ in this piece, I think.

For all of my complaints about Glopnik’s article, I love his description of the center:

“While the habits of hatred get the better of the right, the habits of self-approval through the fiction of being above it all contaminate the center.”

One has to love this much naive honesty. The problem with their fiction is that they’ve believed their own PR just a bit too much. Continue reading

Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group

When is sharing a password a federal crime? And when isn’t it?

By Carole McNall

Korn-Ferry_Hay-Group.jpgI glanced at the sexy headline: Sharing your Netflix password is now a federal crime, court rules.

Intrigued, I read the story. Then I read the court case, United States v. Nosal.

I discovered, within a page and a half, that the headline writer had created his or her own legal precedent. The blunt statement that made a sexy headline was far less nuanced and far more definitive than the actual decision.

The story I read was bylined, which I always take to mean a reporter actually does something to gather the information. But for many reporters, “gathering information” for this story seemed to mean finding it on another website and doing a little rewrite.

So let me offer some context for evaluating the sexy headline.

Who was sharing passwords and why? The password sharing happened when David Nosal and two others decided to leave the executive search firm Korn/Ferry. Before they left, they began downloading information from Korn/Ferry’s confidential database of search candidates. Even after their access to the system was revoked, they continued downloading, using the freely given password of someone still working at Korn/Ferry.

The firm emphasized the confidentiality of the database through messages ranging from a required agreement for all new employees to a pop-up message every time someone did a custom search.

Eventually, Korn/Ferry discovered the access and criminal charges were filed. This month’s decision was the second appeal of Nosal’s conviction on those charges to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

OK, there’s the federal crime. But what law did they violate? Continue reading

Cui bono: how did Berrien County, Michigan hit the headlines?

Horse race reportage, part umpteen. Special Edition: Not Election Coverage

I first spotted this tragic news at BBC, when there wasn’t yet anything world newsworthy about it, even from their own coverage perspective. One might notice the author was in such a rush to post they didn’t even bother to finish writing it first. The telltale error of haste that reveals the race to the bottom should embarrass an author not yet qualified to have their own byline.

Rule 1 of race to the bottom reporting: Be sure to include factoids that do not advance the non-story even a little, and don’t bother to edit it when done. Continue reading

BLM

Why does Roger Ailes want to see Mississippi burn?

Or Rudy Giuliani or the rest of the crew at Fox News?

Photography by Jonathan Bachman

Let me set this straight very simply. Someone punches me in the face. Repeatedly. I manage to get up and punch them back.

Ghouliani would have us believe that I am the instigator in that case.

Seriously, it is THAT simple.

Do I agree entirely with BLM tactics, rhetoric, source of funding, etc., etc., about a bunch of things I’m just not wasting my precious life fact-checking? No. Continue reading

CATEGORY: UnitedStates

Another Fourth, another episode of blissful national blindness

No red, white, and blue adorn my flagpole. No patriotic bunting arches over my front door. No fireworks await their flaming demise. I no longer enjoy the nation’s formal parting from Great Britain (which was on July 2, anyway).

2f45d-free_wallpaper_patriotic_eagle_american_flag_background-1-1024x768I suppose, at one time, July Fourth carried great meaning to all Americans. After all, because of the acts of the Continental Congress and subsequent versions of it, I can (and do) criticize my government without fear or favor. I can own a weapon. My home and person cannot be searched or seized without cause. I am not obligated to incriminate myself. I can practice the religion of my choice — or decide not to — without government coercion. I can peaceably assemble with others to protest almost any damn thing I want to. I can vote to select who will govern me. And Congress cannot prevent me from owning a press in which I tell others what I see and what I know and what I feel.

I love my country because of the ideals inherent in the Constitution and especially in the Bill of Rights.

But lately, I have come to dislike this overwrought holiday. Continue reading

Journalism

So you want a ‘robust, independent press’? Good luck with that.

Given fragmentation of audiences, diversity of media platforms, frequently clueless ownership, and devaluation of journalism by the public, what should journalism schools be teaching today?

From time to time, especially during election seasons, this phrase is often uttered:

America needs a robust, independent press.

Examine the critical words. A robust press? Meaning a press “strong, healthy; vigorous … able to withstand or overcome adverse conditions”? An independent press, one “free from outside control, not depending on another’s authority”?

CATEGORY: JournalismIf reasoned people are calling for a robust, independent press, then they must be arguing that America does not have one.

The press, defined by me as journalism practiced primarily by the nation’s daily newspapers, has been eviscerated by changes in technology and ownership over the past few decades — as well as by the erosion of display advertising, its principal revenue machine for more than a century. The press’s robustness and independence are challenged by those fiscal and executive realities.

To paraphrase Bob Garfield, “The future of the journalism we actually consume hinges on the ability to somehow underwrite it.” It’s clear, sadly, and has been for at least two decades, that mass-market advertising will no longer pay the bills as well as allow for investment. Worse, news companies have been giving away news for free. Consumers expect that now. They resist attempts to charge them for news.

So what about this “robust, independent press?”

Continue reading

Journalism

State of the news biz in 2016? Oh, my god … it’s really bad.

Newsies dread this time of year. It’s when the Pew Research Center releases its annual State of the Media report. And the findings, for print newsies, are bad, bad, bad.

Ad revenue down. Trust measures down. Newsroom staffing down. Circulation down.

CATEGORY: JournalismOh, look — digital ad revenue up. You remember back in the early Oughts when newspapers began to chase that digital ad revenue, right? They were hoping as print ad dollars fell, digital ad dollars would offset the loss, maybe even bring the same high profits. All would be good.

Well, Pew says digital ad revenue is up 20 percent to nearly $60 billion. Wow. Continue reading

Journalism

Newspapers’ big problem: failure to distinguish meaningful from meaningless

Warren Buffett, the newspaper-loving Oracle of Omaha, isn’t loving newspapers quite as much these days. Speaking of the industry’s attempts to create a viable business plan, he told USA Today’s Rem Rieder, “We haven’t cracked the code yet.”

Said Buffett:

Circulation continues to decline at a significant pace, advertising at an even faster pace. The easy cutting has taken place. There’s no indication that anyone besides the national papers has found a way.

JournalismWell, duh, Mr. Buffett. We’ve known about your first two sentences for a decade. And the third? The New York Times is the only “national paper” I pay to read, as a digital subscriber. But I routinely read stories in The Washington Post, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal — as I’m doing this morning over breakfast. The Times gets a ten spot from me every month. Everyone else gets squat.

Unlike millennials, for whom all information must be free, I’m willing to pay. That’s because at my age, I have a long history of paying for news. That’s how newspapers operated: Pay us and read our ads, and we’ll provide you the news you want and need. That was the fair exchange under the previous, and now failed, business model newspapers rode to riches (well, at least their owners) for more than a century.

Continue reading

Journalism

Newspapers founder in habit-driven cultures — so the habits need changing

One morning a few weeks ago, I sat at the end of the counter in my favorite diner, Robbins Nest. Lisa brought tea, Jessica asked, “The usual?” and owner Crystal badgered chef Anthony (as usual).

CATEGORY: JournalismI set up my iPad mini to read. I noticed, however, the house copy of the metro daily from the big city two hours north. I picked it up and leafed through the 10-page front section. You know, the section with meaningful news for someone who lives two hours away.

I looked at story after story, page after page. I saw the metro had 11 — that’s 11 — stories from The New York Times in those 10 pages. That’s not unusual: Newspapers subscribe to wire services. Such services act as consortiums to provide newspapers with material they could not afford to report, write, and edit on their own. My own paper subscribed to The Times’ wire service back in the day. So seeing 11 Times stories in the local metro daily wasn’t a surprise.

But I had read each of those Times stories 12 hours before on my little iPad mini — because I’m one of The Times’ million-plus digital-only subscribers.

How does this metro daily — and others — fare financially if it prints stories many of its readers may have read online the day before?

Continue reading

Moment of #Mansplanation

Actually…

I just had a chance to read this op/ed from last year’s NYT: What makes a woman? The subject is still timely, especially thanks to hijinks like those coming out of North Carolina’s statehouse. And I’ve riffed on it before, if with more vitriol. I was a meaner person back then. Now I can just rest on the laurels of my cis-gendered white male privilege, look at this modern debate and all those hoity-toity post-modern nonsensilists and be snide. It’s an important debate, exactly because it’s in the courts and involves human safety, but dammit people, bring your A-game.  Continue reading

CATEGORY: Climate

Newsmax has misrepresented the OISM’s Global Warming Petition Project 18 times since May 2008

Newsmax’s coverage of the Global Warming Petition Project is consistently biased and inaccurate.

For other posts in this series: click here for data and debunking, here for GWPP mentions by US politicians, and here for conservative/libertarian media references.

Newsmax Logo (credit: Newsmax.com)

Newsmax Logo (credit: Newsmax.com)

On May 19, 2008, the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine published their latest version of the Global Warming Petition Project (GWPP). The GWPP has collected 31,487 signatures from people whom the organizers claim are each qualified to have an informed opinion on the subject of industrial climate disruption1 (aka global warming or climate change). S&R demonstrated that this was not the case back in 2010 and we’ve been running updates to the original investigation since October, 2015.

Since the GWPP was updated in May 2008, libertarian and conservative media outlets have been spreading the GWPP’s false narrative – that there are more so-called “scientists” who reject industrial climate disruption than there are scientists convinced by nearly 200 years of science and overwhelming data that climate disruption is real.

S&R recently identified the following as the top 15 conservative and libertarian news outlets.

  1. Fox News (foxnews.com)
  2. Drudge Report (drudgereport.com)
  3. Independent Journal Review (ijreview.com)
  4. The Blaze (theblaze.com)
  5. Wall Street Journal (wsj.com)
  6. Breitbart (breitbart.com)
  7. New York Post (nypost.com)
  8. Newsmax (newsmax.com)
  9. The Daily Caller (dailycaller.com)
  10. Pajamas Media/Instapundit (pjmedia.com)
  11. WND/World Net Daily (wnd.com)
  12. The Washington Times (washingtontimes.com)
  13. Western Journalism (westernjournalism.com)
  14. Hot Air (hotair.com)
  15. National Review Online (nationalreview.com)

The sites that have been struck out have been the subject of previous S&R reports. Newsmax reporters and columnists referenced the GWPP 16 times between May 2008 and December 2014. In addition, two native advertisements masquerading as Newsmax articles ran from November 2014 until late 2015 or Early 2016. These 18 mentions make Newsmax the second most prolific purveyor of GWPP misinformation.

Early mentions by Phil Brennan

On the day that the OISM published the GWPP, May 19, 2008, only two of the top 15 conservative media sites ran with the story – Newsmax and WND (formerly WorldNetDaily). Phil Brennan a Newsmax commentator who died in 2014 at the age of 87, wrote that first column, as well as three more in the following months.

In his first column, Brennan incorrectly identified “31,072 Americans with university degrees in science” as scientists. As S&R detailed previously, a math teacher isn’t a scientist even if she has a Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics. Similarly, a stay-at-home dad with a veterinary degree isn’t a scientist either. Furthermore, Arthur Robinson, president of the OISM and primary organizer of the GWPP, has never publicly disclosed his criteria for deciding which university degrees are qualified to have an informed opinion on climate science vs. those that do not, even when explicitly asked to do so.

In this early article we see the genesis of the GWPP’s false, anti-consensus narrative that has come to dominate conservative and libertarian media sites. Brennan writes that Robinson’s goal with the GWPP is “to demonstrate that the claim of ‘settled science’ and an overwhelming ‘consensus’ in favor of the hypothesis of human-caused global warming and consequent climate damage is wrong.” And Brennan incorrectly claims that the GWPP “shows that no such consensus or settled science exists.” S&R has shown that the GWPP’s counter-consensus claims are false regardless of how the signatures are analyzed – by comparison to the total number of degrees conferred, by comparison to the total employment in the GWPP’s selected fields, and by comparison to the total membership in professional organizations.

Finally, Brennan wrote that the precursor to the GWPP, the Oregon Petition, was distributed in 2001, when in actuality the signatures were gathered in 1997 and 1998. The most likely explanation for this mistake is laziness or faulty memory on the part of an octogenarian, but when easily verifiedfacts like this are missed or go uncorrected, it does raise concerns about whether or not Brennan’s “facts” can be trusted.

About a month later, Brennan published his second column on the subject of the GWPP. In this case, Brennan spent most of his column creating straw men, engaging in an illogical ad hominem argument against Al Gore, and spouting climate change “facts” that are actually wrong (and that were widely known to be wrong in 2008 when Brennan wrote them). In this commentary, Brennan writes that Gore is only “allegedly credible” and goes on to say that Gore “insists that the [climate] science is settled,” supposedly flying “in the face of the 31,000 plus scientists who have signed statements that declared his theory humbug.”

S. Fred Singer, tobacco scientist-for-hire (credit: guardian.com)

S. Fred Singer, tobacco scientist-for-hire (credit: guardian.com)

Brennan’s last two columns on the subject of the GWPP were on July 3rd and July 7th, 2009, and they present two slightly different versions of a single interview with climate disruption denier and former scientist-for-hire for the tobacco industry, S. Fred Singer. In both cases, Brennan repeats Singer’s comments about the GWPP:

‘When you have 31,000 scientists signing the Oregon petition saying they disagree with the current wisdom that humans are producing increased warming, it speaks for itself. It’s true that the 31,000 are not all climate scientists. There are not that many [climate scientists] in the world.

However, it does show you that the science is not settled.’

By July 2009, climate realists2 knew that the GWPP’s counter-consensus narrative was false. Given Singer has spent the last ten to twenty years focused on denying the reality of industrial climate disruption, it’s very unlikely that he was unaware of the many serious criticisms of the GWPP.

Furthermore, Singer is not a trustworthy source. He has made a career of denying science on behalf of U.S. corporations and industry groups. For example, he was paid $20,000 by the Alexis de Toqueville Institution for the production of a pro-tobacco research paper that he then promoted with members of Congress. And Singer claimed in 2001 that he hadn’t been supported by an oil company in 20 years, yet ExxonMobil donated $10,000 to the Science and Environmental Policy Project (SEPP) that Singer founded in 1990 and ran until January, 2015. There are many more examples of Singer’s dishonesty in the exhaustively researched “Merchants of Doubt,” by Naomi Oreskes and Erik M. Conway.

GWPP in Climategate and Deepwater Horizon commentaries

In late 2009, a several thousand cherry-picked private emails sent between climate scientists were illegally published by a hacker. This event came to be known as “Climategate,” and even though seven different investigations performed by multiple universities and government organizations in two different countries cleared the scientists of any wrongdoing, Climategate continues to be a thorn in the sides of climate scientists.

Muir-Russel panel review of the "Climategate" emails.

Muir-Russel panel review of the “Climategate” emails.

Shortly after the publication of the emails, David Limbaugh wrote a commentary that took the Obama administration to task, specifically Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs. While the commentary falsely accuses climate scientists of fraud and spins conspiracy theories about the scientists’ motives, Limbaugh manages to indirectly mention the GWPP too. Limbaugh wrote

The intellectually honest can’t deny there is widespread debate over the existence of man-made catastrophic global warming. More than 31,000 scientists, 9,000 of whom have Ph.D.s, signed a petition urging our government to reject the Kyoto Protocol….

As mentioned above, S&R published our initial debunking of the GWPP in August, 2009, and S&R was not the first site to describe the GWPP’s many fatal flaws. The fact that the GWPP signers are not all scientists and that the GWPP presents a false narrative are easily found and understood by anyone who bothers to look, and Limbaugh should have. It is difficult to say whether Limbaugh’s “intellectually honest” insult is a result of personal bias, lack of experience reporting on climate, or hypocrisy. What is certain is that he presented factually inaccurate information, and as a result he did his readers a disservice.

Newsmax published another Climategate-focused commentary on January 3, 2010. While there is no byline for the commentary, it focuses on an interview with the former director of the National Hurricane Center, 84-year old retired meteorologist Neil Frank. Frank is quoted as saying that

Several years ago two scientists at the University of Oregon became so concerned about the overemphasis on man-made global warming that they put a statement on their Web site and asked for people’s endorsement; 32,000 have signed the petition, including more than 9,000 Ph.Ds.

Photo of OISM facility in Cave Junction, Oregon (credit: OISM.org)

Photo of OISM facility in Cave Junction, Oregon (credit: OISM.org)

Frank is referring to the GWPP, but he got his facts wrong. S&R investigated the associations of OISM’s faculty (several of whom are deceased) and of the GWPP’s primary organizer, Arthur Robinson. We found no association with the University of Oregon. The OISM itself is based in Cave Junction, Oregon (photo at right), so it’s possible that Frank was merely confused about their association.

Another commentator for Newsmax, David A. Patten, mentioned the GWPP and Robinson directly in a August 21, 2010 commentary on the Deepwater Horizon oil spill. Patten’s entire commentary is an example of sloppy and illogical thinking (specifically the non-sequitor logical fallacy, since it doesn’t follow that the Earth’s response to industrial emissions of greenhouse gasses will have any relationship to the Gulf of Mexico’s response to an oil spill), including fact that Patten interviewed Robinson, who has no identifiable expertise in either oil spills or the biology of the Gulf of Mexico. The only apparent reason to interview Robinson is because he’s a “tireless promotor” of the GWPP’s false anti-consensus narrative, and Patten was repeating that narrative in his commentary.

Four years and a United Nations climate conference later…

Following Paten’s commentary, there are no mentions of the GWPP outside of reader comments until Cheryl K. Chumley writes about it on May 20, 2014, over four years later. In an article titled “Climate Change Remains Unsettled, Say 31,072 Scientists,” Chumley presents a litany of debunked myths, biased information, and logical fallacies as fact, yet she wasn’t even able to get the number of signatures correct – 31,487 as of August 2008, nearly six years earlier. And as with nearly every mention of the GWPP, Chumley misrepresents the signers as “31,072 U.S. scientists” and claims that more than “9,000 of the petition’s signatories have a Ph.D. in a scientific field.”
As S&R has pointed out repeatedly, just because someone has a minimum Bachelors of Science degree in a field doesn’t mean that a) that person is a scientist or b) that the field has anything to do with climate. And while the GWPP’s organizers claims that 9,029 PhDs signed the petition, they don’t provide a breakdown of how many signers in each field had PhDs. Given that the vast majority of GWPP signers are not climate experts, it’s very likely that the vast majority of PhD signers are not climate experts.

There is often a spike in articles casting doubts on the reality of industrial climate disruption in the weeks leading up to a major United Nations climate conference. Mentions of the GWPP spiked in late October, 2010, about a month before a UN climate conference took place in Cancun, Mexico. The first of these was a short October 26, 2014 article titled “Global Warming is Fake? These 7 Scientists Think Humans Are Not to Blame.” In this article Karen Ridder mentions the GWPP before naming the seven scientists. But in a break from previous Newsmax articles and commentaries, Ridder wrote that the signatures represented “people self-identifying as ‘scientists’ who opposed the idea of energy rationing proposed by the Kyoto Treaty….” In addition, Ridder pointed out that the GWPP has faced criticism because “some say the people who signed the petition were not qualified to make such a statement.”

The next day, Newsmax ran another short article pointing readers at seven websites that deny the reality of industrial climate disruption. Number 6 is the GWPP, and the Newsmax summary repeats the common misconception that the GWPP signers are all scientists. And on the next day, October 28, Greg Richter pointed Newsmax readers to a Fox News interview of John Coleman by Megyn Kelly. S&R has already addressed this interview in our investigation of Fox’s mentions of the GWPP.

Finally, Newsmax published an article by Jerry Shaw during the UN conference. Shaw’s article not only led with a screenshot from the GWPP’s website but also claimed that the GWPP’s false anti-consensus narrative was the top key argument against global warming. And again, Shaw misidentified the signers of the GWPP as “scientists.”

Alana Marie Burke’s GWPP series

On December 18 and 22, 2014, Alana Marie Burke published a series of four articles that investigated the GWPP. They are titled:

Each of Burke’s articles repeats the incorrect claim that the GWPP signers are all scientists, and each article has many examples of subtly misleading language. But each of her articles also points out that the GWPP has its critics.

In her first article, Burke asks what the purpose of the GWPP is and then quotes Robinson repeating his usual, false anti-consensus narrative. She also writes that the signatures represent “qualified Americans,” a statement that is questionable at best. And she writes that the signatures “seem to demonstrate that there is a lack of consensus on the issue.” Yet she again points out that the GWPP has been widely criticized.

In her second article, Burke writes that the purpose of the petition was to show that “there is not a true consensus on the science of global warming,” repeating the GWPP’s false narrative. Yet the bulk of the article is devoted to criticisms of the GWPP by organizations such as the New York Times, the Huffington Post, and Bill Moyers’ company. She accurately points out that the GWPP “has been declared flawed, fake, and full of misleading claims” by its critics.

Burke’s third article is largely a set of Tweets both supporting and criticizing the GWPP. In her introduction to the list of Tweets, however, Burke sets up the reader with a “on the one hand, on the other hand” style that favors the GWPP’s false narrative by giving it the benefit of the doubt. She also mistakenly identifies the signers of the GWPP as all having “advanced degrees related to science.” The term “advanced degree” only applies to those signers who have Master’s degrees or PhDs. Slightly more than a third of signers actually have Bachelors degrees in a scientific field.

In her last article, however, she went the farthest and wrote that “the petition does seem to have achieved one of its main goals: to refute claims that there is a 97 percent scientific consensus on the science of global warming.” Given that most of the signers are not climate experts and that the total number of signatures represent a tiny minority of the people who could have signed the GWPP, Burke’s claim is false. Yet again she spent most of the article on petitions that supposedly counter the GWPP’s.

All in all, her articles are overwhelmingly favorable to the GWPP. In every case she repeats the false, anti-consensus narrative that Robinson and his allies have been spreading since 2008, and in every case she structures her article to give the GWPP or its supporters the first and last word. Yet as inaccurate and biased as her articles are, they also represent the closest thing to fair and accurate journalism published by Newsmax to date.

Deceptive sponsored content by Tom Luongo

Tom Luongo's "native advertising" masquerading as a Newsmax investigative report.

Tom Luongo’s “native advertising” masquerading as a Newsmax investigative report.

Burke’s articles were the last ones published by Newsmax to mention the GWPP. But they weren’t the last articles published on Newsmax. That dubious honor belongs to three related “articles” written by former University of Florida chemist turned investment advisor, trader, and Newsmax editor Tom Luongo. The problem with the articles is that none of them is an example of journalism – each is an example of “native advertising” (aka “promoted posts” or “sponsored content”). The headlines are written to imply that what follows is the result of investigative journalism: “Banned ‘White Paper’ Proves Global Warming is a Dirty Scam,” “Scientist Confesses: “Global Warming a $22 Billion Scam,” and an alternative version of the second advertisement that is subtitled “A Breaking Report from Newsmax Media” (see image) In this case, Luongo was selling discounted memberships to his “Cold Truth Initiative,” and he even wanted to send you a copy of John Casey’s Dark Winter “(a $29 value)”, a book that supposedly exposes the grand climate conspiracy and predicts the end of the civilization for any nation that is unprepared. In fact, one of the promoted posts written by Luongo is nearly 7600 words long, 6000 of which are the usual half-truths, deceptions, misinformation, and logical fallacies used to deny the reality of industrial climate disruption. The last 1600 words are nothing more than a long winded advertisement.

These native advertisements showed up online for the first time in November, 2014. When S&R originally discovered them in April 2015 (while researching a post criticizing the editorial board of the Colorado Springs Gazette for misinforming their readers), the advertisements appeared to have been published the prior day. S&R later discovered that Google searches always indicated that the advertisements had been published the day before the Google search was conducted. However, this deceptive dating of the advertisements stopped sometime between early November, 2015 and February 2016.

Luongo refers to the GWPP without mentioning it by name in both advertisements. In both cases he falsely implies that the petition was signed in response to the Tweet by President Obama that said “97% of scientists agree: climate change is real, man-made and dangerous.” Luongo went so far in one as to write that the petition was signed “in outrage.”

The GWPP was published in May, 2008. President Obama’s “97%” Tweet was sent on May 16, 2013, five years after the GWPP was published. Barring time travel, it is not possible for the signatures to have been gathered in response to an event that hadn’t happened yet. Luongo has either made a gross error or he’s lying. Combined with the deceptive way that the advertisements were disguised as authentic Newsmax articles, it’s clear that no-one can trust the so-called facts that pepper Luongo’s three Newsmax advertisements.

Since May 2008, Newsmax has published 18 articles, commentaries, and sponsored content (aka advertising masquerading as original Newsmax reporting) that mention or reference the Global Warming Petition Project. Each time, Newsmax repeated one or both of the false claims that underlie the GWPP – that everyone who signed the petition is qualified to have an expert opinion on the subject of climate science, and that the number of signatures demonstrates that there isn’t actually a consensus on the reality of industrial climate disruption. In only a few cases were critics of the GWPP’s narrative even mentioned.

As we’ve seen, most of the articles have errors of fact that could have been corrected with a quick Google search, by either the authors or the Newsmax editors responsible for publishing the articles. And in every case, Newsmax’s publications are clearly biased in favor of the GWPP’s false claims and false narrative. That Newsmax has published such biased and inaccurate misinformation 18 times makes it the second most prolific spreader of the GWPP’s false narrative among the top 15 conservative/libertarian media sites.

Notes

  1. Industrial climate disruption, aka global warming or anthropogenic climate change, is a scientific theory that climate change is occurring, that industrial emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases are the dominant cause of those changes, and that the changes will be disruptive to global ecosystems and human societies.
  2. Climate realists are individuals who accept the scientific theory, backed by 180 years of discover and overwhelming data, that industrial climate disruption is real. Individuals who deny the evidence often claim the term “realist,” but it is a misnomer.