Thursday's editorial, "Doubting Inhofe," seems a bit defensive about Republican Sen. James Inhofe's recent scathing criticism of the credulous media coverage of global warming - perhaps because Inhofe cites the Times' history of bad coverage of the issue, includingthe paper's mid-70swarnings of "global cooling," now as passe as the Pet Rock.
"In a recent speech in the Senate, James Inhofe of Oklahoma called himself 'the senator who has spent more time educating about the actual facts about global warming.' Too bad he is not the senator who has spent more time educating himself.
"His speech, one in a series on global warming, was a brisk survey of the way the news media have covered climatic predictions over the past century. Cooling, warming - we never get it right. Naturally, Mr. Inhofe dismisses what he calls media 'hysteria,' which is also a way of dismissing not just Al Gore but the consensus among mainstream scientists and the governments of nearly every industrialized nation concerning manmade climate change."
Strangely, the editorial doesn't offer much in the way of a rebuttal, simply assumes that Inhofe is wrong. Implicitly concedes some media faults:
"We do not expect Mr. Inhofe to see the light - or feel the heat - any time soon. He and his staff are serious collectors of opposition research. But the essence of his strategy is to seize upon a mistaken or overblown story to try to undermine the broad consensus. If that fails, he can always question his opponents' politics and motives, as with his insinuations that environmentalists dreamed the whole thing up to scare people and raise money."
Inhofe, using research collected by the MRC's Business & Media Institute, noted one of three dire headlines that appeared in the media:
"A headline in the New York Times reads: 'Climate Changes Endanger World's Food Output.'"
After reading all the headlines, Inhofe delivers the punch line: "All of this sounds very ominous. That is, until you realize that the three quotes I just read were from articles in 1975 editions of Newsweek Magazine and The New York Times, and Time Magazine in 1974....A December 29, 1974 New York Times article on global cooling reported that climatologists believed 'the facts of the present climate change are such that the most optimistic experts would assign near certainty to major crop failure in a decade.'"
Inhofe has already responded to this morning's editorial in a press release: "My recent speeches detailing the embarrassing 100 year history of the media's relentless climate hype and its flip flopping between global cooling and warming scares must have struck a nerve in the old gray lady of the New York Times....A significant portion of my 50 minute Senate floor speech on September 25th was devoted to the New York Times history of swinging between promoting fears of a coming ice age to promoting fears of global warming....Now, fast forward to August 19, 2000, the New York Times was so eager to promote fears of the Arctic melting that it cheapened itself with a comical article declaring 'The North Pole is Melting.' The Times reporter, John Noble Wilford, noted that tourists visiting the North Pole saw open water and declared that 'The last time scientists can be certain the pole was awash in water, was more than 50 million years ago.'Wow. Pretty convincing stuff - that is until the Times was forced to retract the story 10 days later and admit nothing unusual had occurred at the pole.No wonder today's Times editorial felt compelled to accuse me of 'a hysteria of doubt,' it was no doubt a clumsy attempt to distract from their climate reporting legacy of hysteria."