The Corner

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Lord Jones Is Indisposed


Readers may recall that in 2001 His Royal Highness Crown Prince Dipendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev succeeded to the throne of Nepal. Here’s how the newspaper Rising Nepal reported the news:

His Majesty the King was born on 13 Asad, 2028 B.S. (June 27, 1971 A.D.) at the Narayanhity Royal Palace as the eldest son of His late Majesty King Birendra Bir Bikram Shah Dev and Her late Majesty Queen Aishwarya Rajya Laxmi Devi Shah… His Majesty the King joined Budhanilkantha High School and passed the School Leaving Certificate Examinations in the First division. Then, His Majesty the King completed ‘O’ and ‘A’ levels from Eton College of the United Kingdom…studied Geography at the Masters’ Level …pilot’s licence from the then Department of Civil Aviation…

Alas, Rising Nepal couldn’t find space to mention that Prince Dipendra had only succeeded to the throne, and Their late Majesties were only late, because His Royal Highness had gunned down most of the rest of the Royal Family in a crazed palace shootout. Something of the same eerily airbrushed quality hangs over the Associated Press report “UK Climate Scientist To Temporarily Step Down.”

Whatever your views on the merits, if you’re an “environmental journalist” this ought to be news. The reviled “skeptics” and “deniers” have forced Prof. Phil Jones in East Anglia to step down “temporarily” and prompted Penn State to investigate Prof. Michael Mann. Yet you’d have no idea of what the story was about from reading the AP reports in the average American monodaily. If, as the old saw has it, 90 percent of journalism is announcing that Lord Jones is dead to people who never knew Lord Jones was alive, the remaining 10 percent involves telling people Professor Jones’s temperature is much lower than expected without telling them why.

As Jonah has said, this is not just a science scandal but a journalism scandal — worldwide. Here’s the Aussie version of the Jones/Mann Nothing-to-see tango. In Canada, a reader of mine wrote to the Globe & Mail, the Dominion’s newspaper of record, to enquire why they’d run not a single news story on the subject for ten days, and received the following reply from the executive honcho:

Thanks for your note
We continue to look into the issue. It is important

Indeed. The documents were leaked on the Internet, the CRU confirmed their authenticity, they’ve announced that they’ve thrown out all their raw data, the head guy has stepped down . . . But that’s no reason not to “continue to look into the issue” for another, oh, three, four, seven months before running a story. I like this fellow’s sign-off:

Slice your average environment correspondent through the middle and you’re going to find a left-leaning liberal arts graduate who is utterly out of his/her depth. Their world view is being swept from underneath them and they are being shown — in ways that they do not really and have never had to understand — that the guys they thought were the goodies are in fact “at it” and that those they have spent a decade disparaging as deniers were in fact spot on.

I would find that hard to report too.