Here at Media Matters' we've noted numerous conservative media figures and outlets pushing the bogus “Climategate” scandal to undermine the scientific consensus that climate change is real and caused in-part by human activity. Here are just a few recent examples (though there are many more):
- Wash. Times reports debunked “Climategate” myth as fact
- Beck pushes tired distortions of climate science emails to attack cap and trade
- Fox & Friends celebrates Earth Day by pushing “Climategate” falsehoods
- Myths and falsehoods from the assault on global warming science
Now Sharon Begley is up with an excellent post on Newsweek's The Gaggle blog that comes to the unfortunate conclusion that British public opinion, which turned “sharply against the established science of climate change” as the result of outlets like The Sunday Times of London pushing the “Climategate” story, aren't likely to change despite “recent retractions and exonerations.”
A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said (or “before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on,” in Winston Churchill's version), and nowhere has that been more true than in “climategate.”
As Twain and Churchill knew, sometimes the truth never catches up with the lie, let alone overtakes it. As I wrote last summer in a story about why people believe lies even when they're later told the truth, sometimes people's mental processes simply go off the rails.
Of course, that's what right-wing media outlets and figure are counting on -- setting public opinion against science before the truth gets in the way.
Begley's entire piece is well worth a read, especially by science deniers with an open mind -- both of them.