A letter sent to the public editor of the New York Times:
Dear Mr Brisbane,
You are no doubt deluged by complaints about the NY Times’ climate change coverage, and so I am sorry to add to the volume of your correspondence on the subject.
I refer you to “Rising Sea Levels Seen as Threat to Coastal U.S.”, Justin Gillis, March 13, 2012.
The article makes a point of quoting Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute, for a contrary view on warming.
Why? If there was an earthquake, the Times would not seek out a denier of earthquakes. If this was an article on medicine, the Times would not automatically seek out the views of a homeopath or acupuncturist. If this was an article on astronomy, you (the Times) would not make an obligatory pilgrimage to the UFO community. Yet on climate change… you bow again and again to the immense vested interests that fund the climate denial industry. This does not give your readers balance – in fact, it distorts their views of the actual facts.
Mr Ebell’s organisation receives substantial funding from Exxon Mobil, a point not mentioned in this article.
The article also does not mention that Mr Ebell is not a climate scientist, and that he functions as a professional skeptic. Arguably, he would lose income were he to change his views on the subject. He can therefore hardly be considered independent or expert in a class with the scientists whose views your colleague’s article leads with.
Vanity Fair has described Mr Ebell thus: “Every day, journalists around the world call C.E.I. for its take on the latest global-warming studies, and Ebell, or one of his colleagues who also deal with the press—Marlo Lewis, Iain Murray, and Christopher Horner—happily obliges. The journalists like to air all views—”on the one hand, on the other”—so they plug in Ebell’s latest retorts, giving them equal weight with new scientific findings.”
Turning to a standard dial-a-denialist source on climate change for a formulaic science-and-denial story does not suggest much rigour in the work of your colleague. It is lazy journalism.