Newspaper logo  
 
 
Local Stories, Events

Ref. : Civic Events

Ref. : Arts & Education Events

Ref. : Public Service Notices

Books, Films, Arts & Education
Letters

Ref. : Letters to the editor

Health Care & Environment

04.16 'That Backfired': Watch Bernie Sanders Counter Right-Wing Talking Point, Make Case for Medicare for All on Fox News

04.16 Cause of cancer is written into DNA of tumours, scientists find, creating a 'black box' for origin of disease

04.16 Scientists Unveil World's First Human Heart 3D-Printed From Patients' Own Cells

04.15 What It Was Like to Have a Baby in Sweden

04.14 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US

04.13 With Youth Climate Actions Backed by Leading Experts, Latest Round of Protests Highlights Call for Bold and Urgent Action

04.11 Will You Rise Up for Climate Justice Next Week? Don’t Let Fatalism and Cynicism Hold You Back

04.11 300+ Groups to Congress: #GreenNewDeal 'Must Transform Our Food System and Revitalize Rural America'

04.10 Glaciers and arctic ice are vanishing. Time to get radical before it's too late [Willfully ignorant "conservatives" and corporately-bribed liberals diddle self-obsessively while life on earth dies]

04.10 Is there a beautiful, briny solution to the world’s clean water crisis?

04.08 'The perfect storm': hydrogen gains ground on LNG as alternative fuel [Good!]

04.08 Himalayan glaciers on the eve of destruction

04.08 Russia moves to free nearly 100 captive whales after outcry [Good!]

News Media Matters

04.12 DOJ Charging Docs: Julian Assange Committed Journalism

Daily: FAIR Blog
The Daily Howler

US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'

04.16 How Progressives Can Fix the Progressive Income Tax

04.16 Why the US Elected a Despot, and Why It's Poised To Do It Again

04.16 'This Is a Big Deal': Warren Vows to Ban New Leases for Fossil Fuel Drilling Offshore and on Public Lands

04.15 'We're not a dump' – poor Alabama towns struggle under the stench of toxic landfills

04.15 Bernie Sanders Accuses Liberal Think Tank of Smearing Progressive Candidates

04.14 Cummings moves to subpoena Trump financial records

04.14 'Shut the country down': British climate group Extinction Rebellion heads to US

04.14 Progressives Urge Democratic Leaders to Fight Back Against '200 MPH Right-Wing War Machine' Targeting Ilhan Omar

04.14 Why Conservative Attacks on an Out-of-Context Ilhan Omar Quote Are Dangerous

Justice Matters
High Crimes
Economics & Corrupt Capitalism

04.12 Socialism for the Rich, Capitalism for the Rest [4:30 video]

04.09 Neoliberalism promised freedom – instead it delivers stifling control [Walmartization]

04.09 Wall Street loves socialism for bankers – but not for ordinary people

International & Futurism

04.16 Our Zero Emission Future [Be smart or life dies]

04.16 'The Time for Excuses Is Over': Extinction Rebellion Protests Shut Down European Cities

04.16 The Trump-Netanyahu Alliance

04.15 The Guardian view on Extinction Rebellion: one small step

04.15 Only rebellion will prevent an ecological apocalypse

04.15 Thousands join Extinction Rebellion protests across London

04.15 Fear and despair engulf refugees in Libya's 'market of human beings' [EU policy should more directly minimize factors creating immigration. Essential infrastructure projects and jobs are desperately needed for villages in poverty, most especially including renewable energy, clean water and waste managment.]

04.14 World leaders ignore David Attenborough at their peril

04.14 The Guardian view on Assange and extradition: say no to the US

04.14 Finland election: voters may pick first leftist prime minister in two decades

04.14 Rape and abuse: the price of a job in Spain’s strawberry industry?

04.14 What does the rest of Europe think about our Brexit shambles?

04.14 Brexit: Corbyn told to back new EU referendum or lose millions of supporters

04.14 Progressive Leaders Condemn Netanyahu's Vow to Annex West Bank as Unlawful 'Moral Catastrophe'

We are a non-profit Internet-only newspaper publication founded in 1973. Your donation is essential to our survival.

You can also mail a check to:
Baltimore News Network, Inc.
P.O. Box 42581
Baltimore, MD 21284-2581
Google
This site Web
  Does the Post Fact-Check George Will?
Newspaper logo

BAD MEDIA:

Does the Post Fact-Check George Will?

Columnist's climate change denial distorts reality

SOURCE: Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR)
18 February 2009
George Will is entitled to willful ignorance that climate change is a mere "hypothetical" worry. But does the Post really allow him to misstate the facts in order to make his political argument?
Washington Post columnist George Will is among the most widely syndicated in the newspaper business--which means that his recent error-filled column about climate change will misinform the readers of hundreds of papers across the country.

Will made several specious claims in his February 15 column in an attempt to argue that climate change is not a serious concern. (Will has a history of such denial--see Extra!, 5-6/07.)

He started by citing newsmagazine stories from the 1970s that warned of global cooling. The prevailing scientific consensus at that time did not support such claims (Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society, 9/08), but Will likes to pretend that it did--calling it another example of "predicted planetary calamities that did not happen"--in order to bolster the idea that scientists can be wildly off-base. (Will had actually been sent a copy of the BAMS piece by one of the authors after he made a similar false claim last year--Washington Post, 5/22/08. The author reports he "got a nice note back from him thanking me for sharing it"--ABQJournal.com, 2/15/09.)

Will then brought his climate denial up to date by writing:

As global levels of sea ice declined last year, many experts said this was evidence of man-made global warming. Since September, however, the increase in sea ice has been the fastest change, either up or down, since 1979, when satellite record-keeping began. According to the University of Illinois' Arctic Climate Research Center, global sea ice levels now equal those of 1979.

This came as news to the University of Illinois' Polar Research Group (the group's actual name), which posted the following response on its website (Cryosphere Today, 2/15/09):

We do not know where George Will is getting his information, but our data shows that on February 15, 1979, global sea ice area was 16.79 million sq. km and on February 15, 2009, global sea ice area was 15.45 million sq. km. Therefore, global sea ice levels are 1.34 million sq. km less in February 2009 than in February 1979. This decrease in sea ice area is roughly equal to the area of Texas, California and Oklahoma combined.

It is disturbing that the Washington Post would publish such information without first checking the facts.

(This inaccurate characterization of the university's work has been peddled elsewhere by right-wing media, including Fox News Channel's Special Report--1/5/09.)

Will closed his column with another inaccuracy:

Real calamities take our minds off hypothetical ones. Besides, according to the U.N. World Meteorological Organization, there has been no recorded global warming for more than a decade, or one-third of the span since the global cooling scare.

This is not the first time Will has misleadingly cited the U.N. body's work; he wrote in a June 1, 2008 column that "global temperatures have not risen in a decade." This is a simple statistical sleight-of-hand: 1998 was hotter than 2008, so by cherry-picking this year as your starting point, Will can claim that global warming isn't happening. Unfortunately for him, the World Meteorological Organization does not agree, explaining (12/13/07): "The decade of 1998-2007 is the warmest on record.... Since the start of the 20th century, the global average surface temperature has risen by 0.74°C." (See a striking chart showing the 21st century's string of record-breaking average temperatures at Climate Progress--12/16/08.)

Of course, Will is entitled to believe that climate change is a mere "hypothetical" worry. But does the Post really allow him to misstate the facts in order to make his political argument? If so, should the papers that run Will's column be made aware of this peculiar editorial decision? The website Talking Points Memo has tried to get a response from the Post, but so far has been given the cold shoulder (2/17/09).

ACTION:
Encourage the Washington Post to correct Will's erroneous column--for the benefit of its own readers, as well as those who read his column in other newspapers. And ask whether the paper has a system for checking factual assertions made by its columnists.

CONTACT:
Washington Post
Editorial Page Editor
Fred Hiatt
hiattf@washpost.com

If your local paper runs Will's commentaries, please pass this along to them.

You can post copies of your letters to the Washington Post on FAIR's blog here. Please remember that letters that maintain a civil tone are most effective.


Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting is a nonpartisan media watchdog organization. Visit http://fair.org for more information, or share your opinion about this story by writing to fair@fair.org. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.


Copyright © 2008 The Baltimore News Network. All rights reserved.

Republication or redistribution of Baltimore Chronicle content is expressly prohibited without their prior written consent.

Baltimore News Network, Inc., sponsor of this web site, is a nonprofit organization and does not make political endorsements. The opinions expressed in stories posted on this web site are the authors' own.

This story was published on February 12, 2009.

 



Public Service Ads:
Verifiable Voting in Maryland