In a world where newspapers are having a hard time staying relevant it doesn’t help when one of your major stars becomes more of an embarrassing liability, at least as far as the editorial department is concerned. This is something that is happening over at the Washington Post as they have been writing a number of articles that is distancing the newspaper from one of their more famous columnists – George Will.
Back in February George Will wrote in an article about climate change
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.
Since that article first appeared and was gobbled up by the anti climate change people other notable writers at the newspaper have been making heavy tracks to prove how wrong Mr. Will is. First up was Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan who called out George Will by name in their article
The new evidence — including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s — contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.
This was followed up in a post by Andrew Freedman on his blog where he showed how much of what Will wrote was nothing more than cherry picked items artfully construed to support his opinion. Freedman also noted that the reaction to George Will’s articles on climate change had sparked enough of a far reaching reaction that the Washington Post Ombudsman was called it to address the matter.
While the ombudsman found some problems with the article he didn’t find that evidence that Will committed any factual error or distorted any of the facts and Freedman goes on to note
However, avoiding those cardinal journalistic sins does not constitute the end of Will’s responsibility to readers. There is another important consideration, which is whether he provides readers with misleading climate science information that conflicts with what scientists know about the climate system. This is more nuanced than blatantly stating falsehoods, but it is perhaps just as important.
Then yesterday the Washington Post published an editorial that left no doubt as to what the feeling at the paper is, contrary to whatever George Will writes
MAKE NO mistake, Arctic Sea ice is melting. According to the National Snow and Ice Data Center and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the maximum extent of the winter sea ice cover for 2008-09 was the fifth-lowest on record. Underscoring their point, the agencies added, “The six lowest maximum events since satellite monitoring began in 1979 have all occurred in the past six years (2004-09).”
I would bet that being a fly on the wall at those editorial meeting would be a lot of fun.
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