THE BLOG

George Will's Whining: Defending the Indefensible

05/25/2011 01:05 pm ET
  • A. Siegel Energy, Environmental Blogger, getenergysmartnow.com

According to Zachary Roth, George Will and the Washington Post Writers' Group are doubling up when it comes to disinformation and truthiness when it comes to global warming issues. Roth got an early look at tomorrow's (late tonight's) Will column.

We thought we were done with the topic of George Will and climate change.

But now we've gotten an advanced look at Will's latest column, set to run tomorrow in the Washington Post and in syndication.

And it amounts to a stubborn defense of the amazing global warming denialist column he published earlier this month, that was ripped apart by just about everyone and their mother

Evidently thin-skinned Will couldn't take the mild rebuke he received in Andy Revkin's indefensible article in The New York Times equating of Al Gore's pulling one slide, of 400, from his presentation due to disagreements about how to present information (material he got, by the way, from The New York Times), to George Will's blatant (and serial) distortion and, well, blatantly dishonest opinion piece.

According to Roth, Will:

1. "Suggests that Revkin is guilty of sloppy journalism, noting that the Times writer doesn't name the experts who judged the February 15 column inaccurate." In this case, it would seem that George is lucky since that would be a long, long list of people who have examined that monstrocity and called it lacking. (And, well, Revkin's online version does have multiple links debunking Will's fraudelent claims.)

2. "Will stands by the substance of the February 15 column." Wow ... want to talk about arrogant disregard for any standard of evidence. The facts are clear, even if one wants to argue a global warming doesn't exist position, that George Will quoted people out of context (turning 'yes into 'no') and got factual information wrong on multiple issues (pdf) in his effort to peddle disinformation. Will is "maintaining, in the case of the key factual dispute, that he had accurately reported the findings of a respected climate research center on the question of sea-ice levels." The point here to emphasize is that there is not one fact, not one statement in dispute. This is not a 'he says, she says' moment about which month we're citing, but Will's column was serial truthiness, filled with misrepresentations and outright dishonesties. Will should not be able to redefine the discussion to a particular data point.

It is hard to see how anyone who is honest about "fact-checking" and editorial integrity could allow another piece of Will-ful disdain for the truth to be published on their pages.

Hmmm ... what does this say about The Washington Post and The Washington Post Writer's Group?

Update: Media Matters stepped in with Lashing out at critics, George Will spreads more falsehoods in new global warming column after getting a copy of the embargoed article.

Update 2: Columbia Journalism Review published The George Will Affair at 7:24 this evening. Amazingly, Post editorial editor Fred Hiatt stands up and defends Will, arguing that this is about opinion -- utterly ignoring Will's willful disdain for facts and rejection of scientific work. Hiatt misrepresents this as an issue of differing opinion, rather than Will's distorting information to misrepresent facts. And, then a moment of utter arrogance:

It may well be that he is drawing inferences from data that most scientists reject -- so, you know, fine, I welcome anyone to make that point. But don't make it by suggesting that George Will shouldn't be allowed to make the contrary point. Debate him."

"Debate him." Where, Fred, where? Have you given Washington Post opinion page space to any of those who have shredded WIll's truthiness? Have you distributed such commentaries to the 450 newspapers The Washington Post Writers' Group has Will syndicated to? Again, Fred, people are entitled to their opinions, not their own facts.

See, as well, Media Matters with WaPo Goes All In.

this controversy is not about "inferences" by Will with which others "disagree." It is about Will spreading falsehoods. And it is about The Washington Post standing by those falsehoods - a rather large gamble for a newspaper that cannot afford to lose readers or credibility.

Update 3: Joe Romm has an impassioned and powerful slap down of George Will's mendacity and the Post's complicity with In a journalistic blunder reminiscent of the Janet Cooke scandal, the Washington Post lets George Will reassert several climate falsehoods plus some new ones

This is Alice in Wonderland journalism. It is the paper's stated policy that the Post feels free to reinterpret whatever anybody says to fit whatever storyline they are pushing. This suggests the Post has advanced far from the Janet Cooke days.

The Washington Post is setting itself up, quite firmly, for case studies in journalism ethics or, well, the lack of it.

Note that the Will monstrocity is now published.