NewsBusters Still Clinging To “ClimateGate” Myth

The Washington Post's Richard Cohen recently criticized GOP Presidential candidate Rick Perry for wrongly stating that “there are a substantial number of scientists who have manipulated data” to exaggerate global warming.


Responding to Cohen's piece, NewsBusters, a project of the Media Research Center, defended Perry's remarks, claiming that it has been “clearly proven” that scientists doctored the data:

As for the manipulation of data, 2009's ClimateGate as well as a myriad of recent findings concerning significant errors in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's 2007 report have clearly proven this.

The only thing that has been “clearly proven” from the overblown “ClimateGate” controversy is that no amount of evidence will disabuse conservative media of the misconception that “ClimateGate” exposed scientists manipulating data to exaggerate global warming. This claim has simply become part of their retelling of history. But it is baseless.

Just last week the National Science Foundation cleared “ClimateGate” scientist Michael Mann of scientific misconduct. As Joe Romm noted, previously touted the National Science Foundation's inquiry as the “final say” and the “first time that climate studies here will be scrutinized by an independent government organization with the skill and tools to investigate effectively.” Several previous investigations have concluded that there is no evidence to support the allegation that the scientists falsified data.

NewsBusters also claimed that errors in the IPCC's 2007 report prove “manipulation of data” by scientists. But IPCC doesn't conduct primary research, it summarizes research and so is not in a position to doctor data. The small number of errors found in the several-thousand page report are largely issues with citations and none of them deal with the question of whether humans are causing climate change.

It's clear that conservative media will never let go of the false narrative they established as soon as the emails were leaked in late 2009. What's really unfortunate is that mainstream media outlets were such willing accomplices. Perhaps if NBC, CBS, ABC and CNN had done real reporting at the time, this false narrative would not have taken root.