Month 7, Day 2: All The Specious Equivalence That’s Fit To Print

Newsweek has treated climatologist Michael Mann pretty shamefully. After Penn State’s Inquiry Panel completely exonerated Mann, Newsweek finally printed a pathetic excuse for a retraction, without acknowledging their own part in defaming his reputation.

It would be great to have actual journalism in this country, wouldn’t it?

It isn’t just the newspapers that have to retract their misleading reports about climatologist Michael Mann, whose work was unfairly maligned and misrepresented. Newsweek itself, which accused Mann and his colleagues of “massaging” their data, has some apologies to make and a retraction or two to print. Newsweek’s earlier articles on the “climategate” non-scandal were factually flawed, riddled with omissions and decontextualizations, and written carelessly and sloppily. So-called “journalism” of that standard is more appropriate for the celebrity beat; when reporting on science, it should be the first thought of a responsible news writer to make sure the truth is conveyed accurately. By hewing instead to a policy of spurious equivalence, where a fact from a scientist is “balanced” with a lie from an industry-funded spokesperson, Newsweek has helped damage the reputation of a man whose work on the science of climate change is (as PSU’s Investigatory Committee stated this week) beyond reproach. Michael Mann has been working to help all of us understand the facts of global warming, the greatest existential threat humans have ever faced. Newsweek has been obscuring the facts and aiding the forces of denial. We are all diminished by such irresponsibility.

Warren Senders

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *