Found via Tim Blair, England’s Spectator has an article that should have broad appeal on both sides of the ocean. (The same ocean that almost a quarter of a century ago, Ted Danson ominously warned us that we only had ten years to save…)
Journalists are wont to moan that the slow death of newspapers will mean a disastrous loss of investigative reporting. The web is all very well, they say, but who will pay for the tenacious sniffing newshounds to flush out the real story? ‘Climategate’ proves the opposite to be true. It was amateur bloggers who scented the exaggerations, distortions and corruptions in the climate establishment; whereas newspaper reporters, even after the scandal broke, played poodle to their sources.
It was not Private Eye, or the BBC or the News of the World, but a retired electrical engineer in Northampton, David Holland, whose freedom-of-information requests caused the Climategate scientists to break the law, according to the Information Commissioner. By contrast, it has so far attracted little attention that the leaked emails of Climategate include messages from reporters obsequiously seeking ammunition against the sceptics. Other emails have shown reporters meekly changing headlines to suit green activists, or being threatened with ostracism for even reporting the existence of a sceptical angle: ‘Your reportage is very worrisome to most climate scientists,’ one normally alarmist reporter was told last year when he slipped briefly off message. ‘I sense that you are about to experience the “Big Cutoff” from those of us who believe we can no longer trust you, me included.’
So used are greens to sycophancy in the television studios that when they occasionally encounter even slightly hard questions they are outraged. Peter Sissons of the BBC: ‘I pointed out to [Caroline Lucas of the Green party] that the climate didn’t seem to be playing ball at the moment. We were having a particularly cold winter, even though carbon emissions were increasing. Indeed, there had been no warming for ten years, contradicting all the alarming computer predictions… Miss Lucas told me angrily that it was disgraceful that the BBC — the BBC! — should be giving any kind of publicity to those sort of views.’
Of course, reporters have been going native for decades. The difference is that they cannot now get away with it. When acid rain was all the rage in the 1980s, I was a science editor and I relayed all sorts of cataclysmic predictions from scientists and greens about its effect on forests. (Stern magazine said in 1984 that a third of Germany’s forests were already dead or dying and that experts believed all — all! — its conifers would be gone by 1990.) Today, we know that these predictions were wildly wrong and that far from dying out, forests in Germany, Sweden and North America actually thrived during that decade. I should have been more sceptical.
Yet, this time round, despite 20 years of being told they were not just factually but morally wrong, of being compared to Holocaust deniers, of being told they deserved to be tried for crimes against humanity, of being avoided at parties, climate sceptics seem to be growing in number and confidence by the day. What is the difference?
In a word, the internet. The Climate Consensus may hold the establishment — the universities, the media, big business, government — but it is losing the jungles of the web. After all, getting research grants, doing pieces to cameras and advising boards takes time. The very ostracism the sceptics suffered has left them free to do their digging untroubled by grant applications and invitations to Stockholm.
Update: Found via Stacy McCain, Ace of Spades on how the twains are meeting — “We are in a weird time where the lowest-ranked cable TV shows are now actually more poorly rated than the biggest blogs”:
As you all know, when you pick a fight for attention, you punch up, not down. You take a shot at someone bigger, with a bigger audience. You don’t get into spats with people with smaller audiences, because while that helps them, it doesn’t really help you very much.Keith Olbermann is going out of his way to mention Hot Air, even when Ed Morrissey offers a pretty routine bit of commentary about a non-issue. It’s really just an excuse to mention Hot Air.
Because Hot Air is bigger than Keith Olbermann is.
So, why does Hot Air return the favor, flattering a guy with a smaller audience? Well, probably jut because it’s TV, and that seems like it should be bigger and more influential than a blog. But it’s not.
We are in a weird time where the lowest-ranked cable TV shows are now actually more poorly rated than the biggest blogs. And it’s weird, now, because we’re just not used to it. We’re still thinking TV is big leagues, blogging is for wannabes.
But that is changing.
Heh. Indeed. Read the whole thing, as one blogging pioneer is wont to say.
Related: From the asymmetric warfare of the Global Warming Guerrillas we take you to the front lines of…Snowpocalypse Now!