Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 7, 2009

MAKING GEORGE WILL LOOK WORSE.... The Washington Post had a good item today on the increasingly dire outlook on Arctic sea ice. Near the end of the piece, the Post's Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan added:

The new evidence -- including satellite data showing that the average multiyear wintertime sea ice cover in the Arctic in 2005 and 2006 was nine feet thick, a significant decline from the 1980s -- contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will that sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.

That's a pretty sharp rebuke for a news story about a claim made by one of the paper's own high-profile columnists. Indeed, David Roberts added, "I can't think of another instance when a news story at a newspaper explicitly called out an op-ed writer in the same paper for lying, by name. It's pretty extraordinary."

But it gets better. Let's not forget that the Washington Post's Andrew Freeman also fact-checked Will's work on climate change and found the columnist to be wrong, and the Washington Post also recently published a piece from Chris Mooney scrutinizing Will's analysis and Mooney, too, concluded that Will was wrong.

It's safe to assume Will is furious to be exposed this way, but more to the point, it seems the Post is well aware that one of its highest-profile voices has published several columns with demonstrably false claims. Why, I wonder, hasn't the paper run any Will-related corrections?

For that matter, perhaps now would be a good time to start giving Will's work added scrutiny before it's published?

Steve Benen 4:05 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (36)

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Comments

I await the next George Will column to simply see what erroneous items he will have for me at that time! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on April 7, 2009 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

The Wilkins Ice Bridge just broke up yesterday. According to NASA, its the "tenth major ice shelf to collapse in recent times."


http://earthobservatory.nasa.gov/NaturalHazards/view.php?id=37806&src=eorss-nh

But Oklahoma had a snow storm, so I guess we don't have to worry about it.

Posted by: palinoscopy on April 7, 2009 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

Howard Kurtz hosts a weekly chat on the WaPo site, and he has not answered a single question related to this controversy (or on his CNN show) since it started a couple of months ago. I've tried repeatedly, as I am sure others have, to no avail. Even today, nothing, despite having time to answer Michelle Obama's bare arms questions.

Posted by: RollaMO on April 7, 2009 at 4:21 PM | PERMALINK

Good. For years, Will has been painted as the "sensible conservative", yet he has carried water for some very dubious conservative theories, global warming only the latest of many.

The more he is outed for being the disingenuous hack he is, the better our discourse will be. Deep down, most people realize Hannity, Rush, Beck, et al, are lying shills, but it is important to note that Will is even worse. Someone who garners respect in the pundit community for the simple reason that he saves his arrows for only the causes corporate America cares most about.

He is far more dangerous than the loons.

Posted by: Stetson Kennedy on April 7, 2009 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

MAKING GEORGE WILL LOOK WORSE

Is that really possible?

Posted by: ckelly on April 7, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Let us keep in mind that while the oil companies were promoting the global-warming-is-a-hoax myth they were simultaneously pushing the Bush administration to fight for the mineral rights to the artic, in anticipation of the ice melting.

Thus, while I'm sure a number of the right wing voices really believe their global cooling bullshit, the people who are funding the movement know better.

Posted by: Cool on April 7, 2009 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

What, you want rumor control in your news outlets?

Posted by: The GT on April 7, 2009 at 4:33 PM | PERMALINK

It's called "editing, fact-checking and proofreading". Some people need to hire some more grunts!

Posted by: ICanHasDemocrazy on April 7, 2009 at 4:34 PM | PERMALINK

Oh please. Will is assuredly working a new column as we speak, doubling down on every false statement he's previously written. WaPo will gladly run it, Will will make the rounds claiming the continued publication of his scientific interpretations is evidence the paper has faith in his power of reasoning. Reasonable people can disagree reasonably blah, blah, blah....

Posted by: steve duncan on April 7, 2009 at 4:35 PM | PERMALINK

Seems to me were this a comic book ( to put it into a genre Repubs can understand) Will would be the naysayer scientist telling Jor El Krypton is fine.

He's fine for his baseball books, otherwise he needs to sit in the corner and pout with Ben Stein.

Posted by: ICanHasDemocrazy on April 7, 2009 at 4:38 PM | PERMALINK

From a future George Will column:

"According to Juliet Eilperin and Mary Beth Sheridan, '...sea ice in the Arctic has not significantly declined since 1979.'"

Posted by: Chris S. on April 7, 2009 at 4:39 PM | PERMALINK

He's fine for his baseball books

Either you're kidding or you know fuck-all about baseball or writing.

Posted by: ed on April 7, 2009 at 4:40 PM | PERMALINK

Steve Benen quoted: "The new evidence ... contradicts data cited in widely circulated reports by Washington Post columnist George F. Will ..."

Actually, they are being too kind to George Will.

The new evidence doesn't contradict the "data" on sea ice cited by Will. The actual data, from the WMO, was and is correct. What the new evidence contradicts is Will's blatant lies about the WMO data he cited.

And the Post already published a letter from the WMO, which pointed out in detail Will's gross misrepresentation of their data -- to which the Post responded by publishing a follow-up column by Will, in which he simply repeated his original lies.

The fact is that Fred Hiatt and the Post editorial board have decided that at a time when print newspapers are struggling to stay in business, while at the same time the fossil fuel corporations are kicking their campaign of denial and deceit into overdrive to undermine public support for climate change legislation, it is "good business" for the Post op-ed pages to join the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages as aggressive purveyors of ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda.

Expect to see a lot more of it from George Will and other corporate shills in the Post's op-ed section -- no matter what their lowly reporters write in their news reports.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 7, 2009 at 4:44 PM | PERMALINK

"Thus, while I'm sure a number of the right wing voices really believe their global cooling bullshit, the people who are funding the movement know better." -Cool.

Don't listen to what they say. Look at what they do.

The insurance companies have known for years that coastal sea levels will be rising, and are writing policies that reflect that FACT.

Posted by: DAY on April 7, 2009 at 4:46 PM | PERMALINK

I stopped reading George Will's columns years ago. Call that whatever you want, but his BS isn't worth my time.

Posted by: Retrogrouch on April 7, 2009 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

This site was put together all of the political cartoons showing the "Global Warming? Guess what, it's currently cold outside!" meme.

http://ifglobalwarmingisrealthenwhyisitcold.blogspot.com/

Have a look, pretty funny to see them all repeat the same points.

Posted by: dk on April 7, 2009 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Washington Post has been a joke for at least a decade, publishing any talking points that are handed to it by the right wing. Why not just put that joke of a paper out of its misery and sell it to the Moonies?

Posted by: Anon on April 7, 2009 at 5:15 PM | PERMALINK

Secular Animist said: The fact is that Fred Hiatt and the Post editorial board have decided that at a time when print newspapers are struggling to stay in business, while at the same time the fossil fuel corporations are kicking their campaign of denial and deceit into overdrive to undermine public support for climate change legislation, it is "good business" for the Post op-ed pages to join the Wall Street Journal op-ed pages as aggressive purveyors of ExxonMobil-funded denialist propaganda.

Yeppers to all that. While the WaPo does everything to save money from laying off reporters to getting rid of whole sections of the newspaper to shrinking their comics to microscopic size, what's the one part of the paper that has been immune to cuts?

That's right, the op-ed page. The worst section in the paper, the one that could most easily be rejuvenated and strengthened while cutting costs, yet continues to publish Will, Richard Cohen, Robert J. Samuelson, and other hacks.

The only explanation is that those running the paper regard their dubious message as more important than their bottom line.

Posted by: low-tech cyclist on April 7, 2009 at 5:20 PM | PERMALINK

I remain skeptical that what people say about me in the Washington Post makes me look bad. Do they have pictures to back that up? And since when do grown men hug each other? You know perfectly well that I am well paid for my skepticism and exercise of my right of free speech in this country. Now with that said, I'll point out that I will be making a less than hasty exit from this planet before things get too bad, so the way I see it, I'll have the last laugh. What do you think, Cokie?

Posted by: George Will on April 7, 2009 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

Will's syndicated columns appear in almost 500 newspapers. How many of them have printed articles like this one?

Posted by: Bloix on April 7, 2009 at 5:41 PM | PERMALINK

Of course Will is furious and Hiatt isn't about to do anything to further arose his ire. Remember what happened years ago when Noam Chomsky pointed out to the WaPo that Will was wrong about when Anwar Sadat had first visited Israel, and used a WaPo article to prove his statement? At first the WaPo told Chomsky that they would print a retraction and then told him that no, they wouldn't because Will was throwing a temper tantrum. What you want to bet that he is presently throwing another one?

Posted by: Texas Aggie on April 7, 2009 at 6:06 PM | PERMALINK

From the desk of George Will:

As a proponent of the 1st Amendment, I must insist upon the right to say what I believe. I believe what I believe because I believe what I believe.

Stop trying to confuse me with facts!

Posted by: George Will on April 7, 2009 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK

Mr. Will still hasn't fully explained his role in prepping Ronald Reagan for the debate with Jimmy Carter and afterwards commenting on said debate without disclosing his involvement with on of the candidates.

But it is ok if you are a water carrier for the Republicans...

Posted by: Dahoz on April 7, 2009 at 6:53 PM | PERMALINK

Globally, sea ice is about the avarage of the last 30 years:

http://arctic.atmos.uiuc.edu/cryosphere/IMAGES/global.daily.ice.area.withtrend.jpg

Global sea ice relates to global warming, but northern sea ice relates to northern warming.

A recent study showed that 2/3 of northern hemisphere warming was caused an unusual reduction of global volcanic activity during the last 3 decades. If that result holds up, then the northern hemisphere will cool a little as volcanic activity returns to average, a little more if volcanic activity is above average for a while.

Predictions for the future, based on models that fit the past equally well, are all over the place: they predict everything from much cooling to much warming.

Posted by: corporate shill on April 7, 2009 at 6:57 PM | PERMALINK

I can only surmise that the comment from "corporate shill" is an attempt at humor, mimicking the pseudoscientific rubbish that corporate-shill denialists like George Will spew all the time. If so, it's not a bad job.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on April 7, 2009 at 7:11 PM | PERMALINK

Am my the only gray beard that remembers George Will selling out what few principles he had to; first coach Reagan, then during the live debate, with Carter, ask Ronnie the same questions.

The hatred of Carter by the MSM was so palpable that George, not only kept his jobs, but only got a tap on the wrist for violating every journalist rule in the book.

Why any newspaper or broadcast news show would have anything to do with him, tells us a lot about corporate management, rather than editors.

Posted by: OrganicGeorge on April 7, 2009 at 7:19 PM | PERMALINK

This rebuke can mean only one thing: George Will is going to ratchet his war on compact fluorescent light bulbs. One mustn't stand idly by while the enemies of democracy are at the tiller!

Posted by: Trollhattan on April 7, 2009 at 7:28 PM | PERMALINK

HE WILL PROBABLY BE AS SHAKEN AS HE WAS WHEN HIS FIRST WIFE THRU OUT HIS CLOTHES FROM THE SECOND STORY WINDOW.

Posted by: JIM WEAVER on April 7, 2009 at 7:32 PM | PERMALINK

Globally, sea ice is about the avarage of the last 30 years

Wow, that is breathtakingly dishonest reading of the linked graph. It would take a notoriously poor statistician to look at a graph showing the least amount of sea ice in recorded history just a few months ago, and the leanest years occurring over the last five -- and decide that the conclusion to draw from the data is that sea ice is "average," so -- move along, nothing to see here!

Posted by: trex on April 7, 2009 at 7:33 PM | PERMALINK

Oh for crying out loud. He's been spouting lies and half tuths since the beginning of time. Pick any of his columns and you'll have a ball counting the errors.

Posted by: ComradeAnon on April 7, 2009 at 8:03 PM | PERMALINK

If I were the WMO I would have a lawyer ask for a correction. Will lied about what the data said, and the new data (like the old) contradicts Will's lies. The original data are not in question.

Posted by: paul on April 7, 2009 at 8:20 PM | PERMALINK

George Will, America's wuss

Posted by: Eli Rabett on April 7, 2009 at 8:24 PM | PERMALINK

Just because the ice is getting thinner does that mean that you want to lose all your factory worker's wages? China and India are not going to burn less carbon if Global warming is man made or not. They are going to burn fossil fuels it no0 matter what happens to the lunacy of cap and trade policies. Why don't you luddites support nucleur energy, BTW. Over 50% of France's electrical energy is from nucleur energy. They are foreign policy appeasers like most liberals so why don't you want to be like them?

Posted by: MB on April 7, 2009 at 8:59 PM | PERMALINK

When a movement's vernacular went from Global Warming to Climate Change, perhaps the data doesn't validate the GW platform? I was a teenager in the '70s and fears of the next Ice Age was the movement of the time. I know that man cannot control climate patterns. As a nation, we really need to put this farce called Global Warming/CC to bed. Move on....As far as

Posted by: Rainboskies on April 7, 2009 at 9:06 PM | PERMALINK

George Will, the only man I know that can make every scientific fact he mentions a lie in that polysyllabic political stream of consciousness crap he calls a column.

Posted by: Glen on April 7, 2009 at 11:16 PM | PERMALINK

AGW is the last throw of the dice for the international green movement. When it is finally put to bed (CERN, ARGOS, IBUKI satellite programmes and others will do it) its advocates will have to face a very angry public.
And it goes without saying, left wing politics will never be the same.

Posted by: Ayrdale on April 8, 2009 at 12:16 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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