A Brief Media Critique

It is amazing that a scandal that has appeared on something like 14 million web pages (per Google, though ymmv as I see people getting all kinds of numbers) in a matter of just 2 weeks has yet to appear on the US mainstream network news.  I mean, these were the guys who spent breathless hours of live coverage reporting every breaking rumor about changes to Michael Jackson's coffin.

No real point.  Not calling for government intervention, obviously.  Just amazing how irrelevant the networks have become.  If it weren't for Time and Newsweek, and I would say they were the least relevant major news outlets in the country.

Some major, must-report outcome is going to come out of this Internet hype, and at that point the networks will find themselves in a position they have already been in several times this year -- trying to explain significant actions resulting from a long-standing scandal or controversy they never reported.


  1. Mesa Econoguy:

    Thank you for hitting this, coyote.

    There are 2 primary drivers:

    1) Journalists are stupid, especially network journalists. Plain and simple, explains their politics, and their chosen profession. They simply cannot understand the issues at hand (or sizable and complex obfuscation to date) in this growing scandal.

    2) If they were to report something, they wouldn’t know where to look to get it right, see #1. So they’re gun-shy, just ask Dan Rather after his web beat-down (also highly stupid individual).

    These guys have never heard of Steve McIntyre, or Anthony Watts, or even Roger Pielke (Sr.), but they can definitely tell you about carbon offset trading credits and other meaningless bullshit.

    It is mostly selection bias, shaped by subpar intellect.

  2. Mesa Econoguy:

    Also, it’s fascinating to watch the emergent complexity of analysis on the CRU emails - all these disparate parties, many subject matter experts and programmers, dissect the code and the possible meanings.

    Journalists hate that.

  3. Paul:

    I quit paying any attention to the main networks' news quite some time ago, so I have no idea what they are or are not covering.

    I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one.

    I know locally (Baltimore), the ABC affiliate just laid off 15 people, most from the news department, word is they are considering shutting down their local news altogether. I think network news is going to go the way of the newspaper, as most people turn to the internet for news coverage; and no one even knows yet what platforms like twitter will do.

  4. Cecil:

    NBC Nightly News got around to the story tonight. Mostly quotes from government officials that the science is good but NBC did recognize that it might be a problem.

  5. Pat Moffitt:

    We have been down this road before with Acid Rain. In fact the US government report (NAPAP) actually said that the media/NGO claims for acid rain were at best severely overblown. Edward Krug had his career destroyed for leading the NAPAP study, Congress passed the legislation anyway (in fact EPA prevented the study release until passage was assured) EPA then went about publicly smearing Krug's reputation. This has all happened before (acid rain pioneered using computer models to give answers one would not otherwise believe- Acid Rain had no internet- hopefully this time the outcome will be different. MSM did not report the outcome of the NAPAP study as they have not reported the CRU scandal. Prof.William Anderson has a number of interesting articles and papers on the media's role in in the Acid Rain scare story. Anderson's factually well supported position says "When inaccuracy does not impact the press financially other factors than truth play a role in news coverage" (Not quite a quote but memory close)..

    We are some twenty years from the passage of the acid rain control legislation and very little improvement has taken place because the acidic surface waters were for the most part naturally acidic - (Krug was correct) Ironically some "researchers" are now saying global warming is the cause of acid surface water (by increasing the production of organic acids DOC in the soil) - however the role of natural DOC advanced by Krug was ridiculed when EPA and the NGOs were making the case for acid rain

  6. nofreewind:

    I just came across your Phoenix slides and I must say that is one of the finest, most concise explanation of the whole package that I have come across. Thanks for your TRUTH.

  7. Greg:

    Pat, thanks for the reminder about acid rain. I remember seeing a film about how dangerous it was back in school. Now you hear nothing, like it never happened. It reminded me of a few other immediate and dangerous threats to the planet: aerosol cans, disposable diapers, and now plastic water bottles.

  8. Link:

    Copenhagen may come and go without Climategate going wide. Or it may become the biggest story of the year. MSM has a role to play in this, unfortunately. There's still enough time for "the Hacker" to be Time's Man of the Year.

    You can't tell me that the senior editors at NYT, WaPo, Time, Newsweek, ABC, NBC etc aren't aware of this. My inner cynic finds this quite entertaining -- I'd love to be a fly on the wall in their offices.

    It's a hard story for them to tell right now, as it would mean admitting that they've been telling us AGW fibs for years. They're also worried that if they move first, Obama will cut them out. Without access, they're nothing. If you're an NBC property, there's the added risk of GE CEO Jeff Immelt firing you -- the man wants to sell windmills. But you don't want to be a month late breaking this story. Papers like the NYT might never recover.

    I expect continued second order developments in the next two weeks to drive the narrative.

    MSM has been abysmal for several years now. It got worse in the election. I'm convinced that you have to be functionally illiterate at math, science or reason to be chosen to cover politics. They're all Jason Blairs to me. The editors may be worse, because they're often compromised. To me, the failures of MSM are key to understanding why the US has screwed up so much in the last decade.

  9. John Moore:

    Having fought the MSM as part of the Vietnam vets movement against John Kerry in 2004, I already knew they were extremely biased and remarkably uncritical of views they favored. I engaged in blog-comments dialog with J-school profs, editors and reporters and it was pretty amazing - they supported "civic journalism," which to a leftist means journalism with an explicit purpose of achieving "social justice" (another liberal code word for leftist goals).

    Their behavior in digging into every detail of Bush's background, while ignoring critical parts of Kerry's (e.g. they never reported that he was a naval reserve officer while meeting with the Viet Cong and while engaging in his duplicitous anti-war activities), was hypocritical in the extreme.

    We saw that again with their cover-up of many critical facts about Obama's past (we know virtualy nothing about his academic career, for example).

    That they would not ignore ClimageGate is hardly surprising. Not only does it threaten their AGW religion, but it also challenges their ignorance: most of these folks know absolutely nothing about either science itself, or scientific facts and theories.

  10. Dr. T:

    Fox News carried a brief story on the scandal (not just on the e-mail thefts) a week or so ago. My wife watches the news, and she hasn't seen anything since then.

    AP had a few small stories about the contents of the e-mails, but these were buried among a deluge of stories about the international meeting on "climate change" and a story that said anthropogenic global warming was happening even faster than the earlier predictions. (I have no idea what that nonsense was based on.)

    It's easy to see that the media has a mission unrelated to newspaper sales or Nielson ratings. A series of investigative news stories showing that anthropogenic global warming is the biggest pseudoscientific hoax in history would be widely read or watched. The cold fusion scandal was a flea bite on an elephant in comparison. But, despite the poor financial condition of most newspapers, news magazines, and TV news programs, none are running with this big story.

  11. Brad K.:

    Paul Harvey made a career out of reporting useful and important news - that the drive-by media didn't bother with. This is not a new phenomenon.

    There is a strong parallel between the MSM and CRU - both are deeply entrenched in bitterly contested fields. Appearance of advantage is more often the goal than substance of what they do. Attacking competitors or detractors consumes an inordinate amount of effort.

    And when someone does pay attention to the man behind the curtain, they look foolish. And deceptive, and manipulative, and wasteful of others' time and money. And they lose respect for whatever they do happen to report, regardless of the value of their reports.

  12. Link:

    If you want irony, Politico.com just served up a softball interview of Al Gore. Climategate wasn't mentioned.

    Gore -- who invented the internet, I'm told -- said that TV news was "a pollution of the process that our Founders hoped would emerge." Gore says that "the Internet culture is rising and will soon rival the television culture for dominance in the information marketplace, relevant to politics."


  13. Kyle Bennett:

    "trying to explain significant actions resulting from a long-standing scandal or controversy they never reported."

    Breaking News: President Nixon suddenly resigned today after it was revealed that several people connected to his Committee to re-elect the President broke into the headquarters of the Democratic National Committee. In other news....

    Oh, wait, it didn't happen that way, did it?

  14. rxc:

    The MSM needs to reexamine its prcatices, sure, but the real sinners in all of this are the "prestigous journals", such as Science and Nature, which have helped mix the kool-aid. They should suffer quite heavily from this, and the use of the internet to publicize the fraud may be just the trick to make the "peer-reviewed" journals finally die a well-deserved death.

    The Web (not the Internet) was invented in order to make the publication and use of scientific papers easier, and now it show that it really should take over that process. People who publish papers should be required (by the scientific community) to publish their papers and data and methods on-line. The ones that don't follow these simple rules should be ignored.