01 Jun 2003 New York Times’ Latest Attack on White House Shows Arrogance of Blair-Raines Era Lingers
Maybe it’s time to send the editorial writers at The New York Times back to the Columbia Journalism School for a refresher course in fact-checking.
Even with the departure of the left-wing ideologue Howell Raines as editor-in-chief and protégé Jayson Blair, The Times still is having a hard time getting its facts straight.
A prime example is the paper’s June 20 editorial “Global Warming Censorship,” that takes the Bush Administration to task for allegedly editing a portion of the climate change section in the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) draft report on the state of environment.
But no one in the Bush Administration censored the EPA report anymore than editors at The Times would have been censoring a news story if they had exercised the good journalistic judgment to edit the many egregious errors committed by Jayson Blair during his brief, but shameful, career.
It’s true that the EPA draft report was edited by the climate change experts on the White House Council on Environmental Quality. Those experts, however, only corrected glaring factual errors placed in the report by some of the environmental extremists who have managed to embed themselves in the EPA over past three decades.
Almost since its founding in 1970, the EPA’s so-called science has been terribly suspect. Instead of farming it out to independent, impartial experts in academia, the agency insisted on doing its own studies – a development analogous to having Congress rather than the Supreme Court determine whether a new law is constitutional.
Surprise, surprise… the EPA’s in-house studies always seemed to be raising alarms about new environmental menaces – menaces that allowed its bureaucrats to steadily expand their power and their patronage. Like Topsy, it just grew and grew.
EPA science was so one-sided, so unbalanced, indeed, that it quickly took on the same connotation of obsequious bootlicking once associated with Soviet science. In other words, “science” generated to back up preconceived notions. That is to say, not science at all, but propaganda in promotion of a cause.
Having been leaked a draft version of the report by an environmental group, The New York Times quickly rushed in to print with a finger-pointing front-page story and then editorial accusing the Bush Administration of suppressing scientific thought.
What scientific thought? The draft version of the EPA report ignored the fact that there is a huge debate going on across the globe as to 1) whether we’re facing severe or just gradual global warming, and 2) whether man-made emissions of so-called greenhouse gasses from motor vehicles, factories and power plants are playing any role in it.
The assertion by environmental activists and The Times that the 1990s likely were the warmest decade in 1,000 years has been challenged and effectively refuted in an extensively referenced peer-reviewed study conducted by researchers at the prestigious Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics.
The New York Times conveniently failed to mention that most of the funding for this study came from NASA, an independent agency with no particular axe to grind on the issue. Also ignored was the fact that a panel of scientific peers unanimously found that the center’s research met rigorous scientific standards.
The Times reporting and editorializing on global warming makes it clear that their writers – like the departed Blair – read only those portions of studies and reports that fit their preconceived notions.
They suggest, for example, that a 2001 report by the National Research Council makes a compelling case for urgent action to combat global warming by curtailing carbon dioxide emissions, but a complete reading of that report makes clear that what we know about the climate system is limited to a few facts.
Specifically, over the past century the average global surface temperature rose modestly, carbon dioxide emissions increased and human activities have some influence on the climate system.
The Council’s report, however, makes clear that everything else is mostly a combination of hypothesis and speculation due to significant uncertainties in our understanding of the climate system.
Without more scientific knowledge on major climate processes – clouds, water vapor, oceans, solar influences and aerosols – it is simply not possible to distinguish natural variability from human influence.
Far from censoring a “scientific consensus,” the Bush Administration is encouraging valid debate with proposals to expand research to reduce the current uncertainties about global warming.
The White House desire to resolve legitimate scientific disputes is hardly a “sign of burying its head in the sand” as The Times charges. It is merely a sign of wanting the best available knowledge before putting into place policies that will have draconian economic consequences on the lives of 286-million Americans.
The Bush Administration deserves applause – not catcalls – from the arrogant journalists on West 43rd Street.
Bonner Cohen is a senior fellow with The National Center for Public Policy Research. Comments may be sent to [email protected].