THE LIBERAL WAR ON SCIENCE! Conservative kooks went after Gore. And so did our own private Mooney: // link // print // previous // next //
TUESDAY, MARCH 20, 2007
THE START OF SOMETHING BIG: On a very important matter, Atrios was slightly more right than Glenn Greenwald. Yesterday, both gents discussed the press corps reaction to Clintons March 1993 firing of those U.S. attorneys. (Bob Dole dubbed the event the March Massacre). Here was Greenwalds account of what happened, back when the Clinton Admin was still young:
GREENWALD (3/19/07): The beginning of the Clinton administration was really the birth of the all-out right-wing filth and noise machine, and—working with Republican Congressional leaders—it attempted to convert a completely routine decision by the Clinton administration to replace all U.S. attorneys into some sort of explosive corruption scandal.The right-wing noise machine did it, Greenwald said. In response, Atrios extended and revised Glenns remarks. Ate was right in one major way, somewhat wrong in some others:
ATRIOS (3/19/07): Greenwald says it's an early demonstration of the right-wing noise machine. I think it was part that, but this kind of thing (remember Travelgate?) was also thoroughly mainstreamed in our press. My theory has long been that after 8 years of Nixon/Ford, a brief 4 year pause of Carter, then 12 years of Reagan/Bush, that Washington had become a Republican town from top to bottom. Clinton coming into town really did upset the socio-economic order, and David Broder and the gang didn't like the fact that the "good people" they had lovely dinner parties with had to go and find new jobs.Not quite right. In fairness to Broder, he doesnt seem to have written about the Clinton attorney firings at all. And as a sign of how different things were back then, the Washington Post defended Clinton in a March 26 editorial, quite robustly. Here was the papers first paragraph:
WASHINGTON POST EDITORIAL (3/26/93): The innuendo in which U.S. Attorney Jay Stephens has indulged in the past few days can only be calculated to undermine the integrity and reputation of the prosecutorial process he claims it is his goal to protect. Attorney General Janet Reno announced at a news conference Tuesday [March 23] that all U.S. attorneys across the country were being asked for their resignations. No surprise there. These are political appointees who owed their jobs to the last administration and have expected to be replaced ever since last November's election. It would likely have happened earlier had the Clinton administration not made such an adventure out of the appointment of an attorney general.The Post took Clintons side in the firings, quite completely. Using Nexis, we can find no record of any Post columnist criticizing Clinton on this matter. But uh-oh! The criticism of Clintons conduct didnt just come from the right-wing machine. A major change in American life had begun. Jim Lehrer cited the new reality on that Fridays NewsHour:
LEHRER (3/26/93): David [Gergen], the President's attorney general, Janet Reno, this week fired—or didn't fire, but asked for the resignations of all the Republican-appointed U.S. attorneys. The Republican leadership and the New York Times editorial page, an interesting combination, among others, have been shouting about it ever since. How do you feel about that?In fact, it was just as Lehrer said; over at the New York Times, Howell Raines was echoing the Republican leadership, writing angry editorials about Renos troubling decision. (March 25: Janet Reno starts badly. March 26: Justice Disrupted.) The Post was rolling its eyes at this matter, but Raines was up in arms at the Times. For the record, Raines had previously lived in DC, but his pique now emanated from Gotham. And he surely was not a Republican or a conservative by any normal reckoning.
By this time, though, the New York Times strange relation with Clinton had been developing for more than a year. Jeff Gerths bungled Whitewater reporting started in early 1992; Raines was now starting the run of anti-Clinton editorials which would never end. (In January 1999, Michael Tomasky surveyed the damage with this report in The Nation.) And oh yes—before Raines finished savaging Clinton, he and his famous idiot savants started their war on Clintons successor. It was on Raines watch, for example, that Maureen Dowd and Frank Rich invented the punishing Love Story bull-roar in December 1997. Starting in March 1999, this inane pseudo-story was used to savage Candidate Gore for two solid years. By now, though, the entire mainstream press corps was reciting the RNCs tales. Raines editorials on the firings, cited by Lehrer, had been the coal mines canary.
So no, this story isnt quite as simple as Atrios made it (he was working from recollection). But in yesterdays column, Greenwald (who does superlative work) committed what wed call the SLO—the Standard Liberal Omission. He posted complaints about the firings from conservative news orgs, then said this was a right-wing flap. As such, he omitted the part of Clinton-era journalism which changed our American politics. He missed the fact that the New York Times stood with the Washington Times on this matter. When we ignore this part of the story, we ignore our most fundamental recent history. It was this melding of the mainstream with the right that redefined Clinton-era journalism—and eventually sent Bush to the White House.
We liberals love to shake our fists at the Washington Times and the Wall Street Journal. But on their own, these conservative orgs cant really tip our elections. Alas! As the Clinton-Gore era developed, the mainstream press corps increasingly began to adopt the tales of the right-wing machine. By late 1998, the two press corps were virtually indistinguishable, at least when it came to their Clinton-Gore jihad. This culminated with Campaign 2000—the event we liberals, to this day, simply refuse to discuss.
READ EACH THRILING INSTALLMENT: Below, we offer our fifth and final post about William Broads recent report on Al Gore. Be sure to read every installment:
Don Easterbook may not reed reel gudd. See THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/14/07.And now, in our thrilling final installment, we look at the way libs and cons responded to Broads report.
THE LIBERAL WAR ON SCIENCE: Alas! William Broads report on Gores film could have been very helpful. He could have used last months IPCC report as an occasion to review the current science of warming; in the process, he could have reviewed the most significant claims which were made in Gores film and book. Best example: What are the odds that the Antarctic and Greenland ice shelves will break loose, causing catastrophic coastal flooding? Its the most dramatic presentation in the Gore film. Given the current state of the science, how likely is it to happen?
BROAD (3/13/07): Kevin Vranes, a climatologist at the Center for Science and Technology Policy Research at the University of Colorado, said he sensed a growing backlash against exaggeration. While praising Mr. Gore for ''getting the message out,'' Dr. Vranes questioned whether his presentations were ''overselling our certainty about knowing the future.''As David Roberts demonstrates at The Huffington Post, Broad offers little real evidence for the claim that Gore has become a very polarizing figure in the science community. But lets face it—Gore has long been a very polarizing figure for the kooks who work at the New York Times! Their kooky coverage of Gore dates to December 1997, when Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd invented the ludicrous Love Story claptrap—a punishing assault on Gores character which was endlessly pimped during Campaign 2000, helping send Bush to the White House. Whatever Broads intentions may have been, he extended his newspapers string of Gore-attacks with this bungled report. Yes, he made an utter mess of the ice shelves matter; but then, he mangled almost every substantive matter he touched. Meanwhile, he built his report around Don Easterbrook, a rank-and-file scientist who doesnt believe that humans are causing global warming and predicts that weve entered a period of cooling! In short, Easterbrook doesnt disagree with Gore; he disagrees with the vast range of modern climate science. But Broad forgot to tell readers that. Instead, he used Easterbrooks highly unusual views to tag Gore as an exaggerator once again.
Yep! In the case of those ice shelves, Broad even swiped an apples-and-oranges fruit truck wreck from the less reputable New York Sun (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 3/19/07). But so what? So it has gone for the past fifteen years, as the Times has adopted crackpot claims against Clinton and Gore from the RNC and its kooky affiliates. Once again, we see the defining shape of our age; we see our most famous newspaper stooping low to adopt the work of the fakes and dissemblers. The New York Sun swapped some apples for oranges—so the Times chose to run the scam too.
Only the Times can explain this strange conduct—conduct which has been routine for the past fifteen years. But how does the Times keep getting away with such conduct? To answer that, lets look at the way some political players reacted to Broads bungled work.
Predictably, conservatives ran to hail Broads genius. Easterbrook, the rank-and-file scientist who thinks the earth is cooling, was dragged onto three cable programs; he shared his genius with Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson and Glenn Beck, all of whom assured the world that Gore has been fooling them again. For example, here we see uber-idiot Beck just before speaking with Easterbrook:
BECK (3/13/07): A newspaper article came out today which said scientists argue that some of Mr. Gores central points are exaggerated and theyre erroneous. They were alarmed, some say, at his alarmism.The stupidity grew as Beck continued. For example, heres what happens when the New York Times decides to swap apples for oranges:
BECK: The article also calls attention to Gores claims that our oceans would eventually rise by up to 20 feet destroying parts of New York and Florida along the way.As youll recall, Gore was describing what will happen if those two huge ice shelves break off. By contrast, the IPCC was predicting what will happen if the ice shelves dont give way. But so what? Bjorn Lomborg had printed this crap in the New York Sun—and Broad then hustled it into the Times. And kooks like Beck knew just what to do. They began to call Al Gore a big kook, as theyve done for roughly a decade.
Predictably, kooky-con web sites also trashed Gore as soon as they got a whiff of Broads piece. At Slate, Christopher Beam linked to various sites which had commented on Broads report. He started with a pair of conservative bloggers; they marveled at the fact that a liberal paper like the Times would print such an attack on Gore. "No one will be able to argue that this story is a propaganda campaign on the part of oil companies, a Texas conservative dumbly said. But then, kooky-cons always know what to do when theyre handed such bungled reports.
Sadly, our liberals still dont. In turn, Beam linked to Roberts angry piece at The Huffington Post—an angry takedown of Broads bungled work. But omigod! Beam also linked to Chris Mooney, fiery young author of the heralded book, The Republican War on Science. It would be hard to find a better example of the liberal breakdown which has defined the Clinton-Bush era.
BEAM (3/13/07): At The Intersection, liberal science writer and Seed magazine correspondent Chris Mooney defends Gores movie as "almost entirely accurate": "But my question as a point of strategy has always been: Why include the 1 to 5 percent of more questionable stuff, and so leave oneself open to this kind of attack? Given how incredibly smart and talented Al Gore is, didn't he see this coming?"And it gets even worse when we read Mooneys post. Like other good boys in the liberal firmament, Mooney didnt have a single word of criticism for Broad or his hopelessly bungled report. Instead, he put the onus on Gore; he wondered why Gore would leave himself open to such attacks. New York Times slams Gore, his headline says, and frankly, Im surprised it didnt happen sooner. Heres how this modern, well-trained liberal responded to Broads massive nonsense:
MOONEY (3/13/07): Let me be clear: I have seen An Inconvenient Truth, and I found it almost entirely accurate. Gore has done a tremendous job of drawing attention to this issue and he gets the science right by and large. But my question as a point of strategy has always been: Why include the 1 to 5 percent of more questionable stuff, and so leave onself open to this kind of attack? Given how incredibly smart and talented Al Gore is, didn't he see this coming?Where do we find these weak-willed boys—these cosmic, world-class Born Losers?
Amazing, isnt it? For himself, Mooney believes that Gores film is almost entirely accurate. About one to five percent of its content is more questionable, he writes. You would think, therefore, that he might be surprised to see Gore being slammed by the Times in such a full-throated fashion. Not at all! In fact, Mooney says hes surprised it didnt happen sooner—though he never explains why it makes sense to slam a film which may be 99 percent accurate. Lets say it again—Mooney doesnt offer a single word of criticism for Broads reporting or sense of balance. Instead, he wonders why a guy as smart as Gore would set himself up for the slaughter.
How lamb-like is our own private Mooney? To understand that, you have to click on his link to the earlier post where he has already shown how Gore overstepped on the relationship between global warming and tornadic activity. To see that earlier post, just click here. With apologies for the length, well offer the bulk of his takedown:
MOONEY (2/7/07): In An Inconvenient Truth, Al Gore threw in the 2004 U.S. tornado season in his laundry list of phenomena apparently related to climate change: "Also in 2004, the all-time record for tornadoes in the United States was broken." Incidentally, for this quotation I am relying on the Competitive Enterprise Institute's takedown of Gore's movie. I really hate to do that, but in this case—at least on this individual point—CEI seems to have found a weakness in Gore's presentation.Maybe theres away to get dumber than that. But were not sure what it would be.
For starters, note this one fact. In this earlier post, Mooney is criticizing a single sentence in Gores entire book and movie. (Yes—that single sentence which Mooney quotes is the books only sentence on this topic.) Lets assume something that isnt quite clear; lets assume that Gores implication in that sentence is just flat-out wrong. Why would a single mistake in a full-length film justify such an attack by the Times? No one but a modern liberal would ever reason this way.
Meanwhile, lets note anther fact: Mooney clobbers Gores single sentence on tornadic activity because of what the IPCC has now said. But that report was issued last month—a year after Gores film went into theaters. If there's no documented trend in tornadic activity at this point, then of course we cannot claim that climate change is directly affecting tornadoes, Mooney brilliantly writes. But when he writes that, he is citing the IPCC report—a report Gore didnt have available. In short, Mooney scolds Gore for failing to heed a report which didnt yet exist.
HORGAN (12/18/05): As the title indicates, Mooney's book is a diatribe, from start to finish. The prose is often clunky and cliched, and it suffers from smug, preaching-to-the-choir self-righteousness. But Mooney deserves a hearing in spite of these flaws, because he addresses a vitally important topic and gets it basically right.Weird! Mooneys the type of fiery liberal who will pen a diatribe against the Right. But isnt it odd! He doesnt have a word to say about the New York Times! No, we cant mind-read this fiery young fellows motives. But in trashing the right—and whitewashing the Times—Mooney does set up a lucrative mainstream writing career. In the future, when you see his by-line appear in the Times—he has already published for the Los Angeles variant—remember the knives he put in Gores back to keep his own career hopes alive. Remember the knives he put in the back of you and your ongoing interests.
Conservatives knew what to do with Broads piece. Of course! They dragged poor Easterbrook onto TV and lit into Big Liar Gore once again. And we liberals also knew what to do; as weve done for the past fifteen years, we knew we should keep our mouths shut! In this case, David Roberts proved the wondrous exception to the predictable liberal silence—the silence which has enabled the press corps War Against Gore ever since its inception. After all, it wasnt just Mooney who kept his mouth shut when William Broad wrote that ludicrous piece. The New Republic shut its traps too—and so did the lads at the fiery Prospect. Anyone hear Kevin Drum make a peep? Your other favorites didnt speak either—just as theyve kept their mouths shut at all other junctures in the long-running War Against Gore.
There was nothing new about Broads kooky piece; the Times has been trashing Gore in this manner for almost ten years. But then again, there was nothing new about our liberal silence; throughout that decade, our paper-trained lads have known they should always keep their mouths shut. Last week, it was the same old thing! Conservative kooks went after Al Gore—and so did our own private Mooney.