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11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Trump responds to worst fires in California’s history by threatening to withhold federal aid [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Interior department sued for ‘secretive process’ in at-risk species assessment [behaving ignorantly again...]
11.11 Keystone XL pipeline: judge rules government 'jumped the gun' and orders halt [behaving ignorantly again...]
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US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.10 Trump's acting attorney general involved in firm that scammed veterans out of life savings [Absense of morals and empathy are a prerequisite in the Trump administration]
11.09 Trump administration blocks asylum claims by those crossing border illegally [Making America Less Great Again...]
11.10 US stops refuelling of Saudi-led coalition aircraft in Yemen war [But there are a few children still alive. It's too soon!]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.05 Under Trump, Corporate Giants See Massive Drop in Penalties: NYT [Mafia-government...]
11.02 Los Angeles’ Measure B Is a Moonshot Aimed at Creating a Public Bank [Could save the public $Billions if setup smartly]
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11.12 With Trump sitting nearby, Macron calls nationalism a betrayal [Trump was confused...; video]
11.09 US navy ship ignored sinking migrants' cries for help, say survivors [Making America Less Great Again...]
Does the Post Fact-Check George Will?
Columnist's climate change denial distorts reality
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.
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.)
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):
(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:
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).
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 email@example.com. Republished in the Chronicle with permission from F.A.I.R.
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This story was published on February 12, 2009.
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