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David Roberts

David Roberts

Posted: November 25, 2008 03:24 PM

Politico Reporter Erika Lovley Embarrasses Politico, Self, Profession of Journalism, Humanity


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Today brings two of the must jaw-droppingly moronic stories I've ever seen, both in Politico, both written by Erika Lovley, who one can only assume is either the most dimwitted, gullible reporter in D.C. or ... um, I can't think of another explanation.

Remember those articles you'd see five years ago, "balanced" stories on global warming science quoting the same small group of deniers, citing the same debunked myths, and conspicuously failing to reference a single peer-reviewed scientific paper or reputable scientific organization? The ones you thought self-respecting media organizations had finally tired of running?

These are worse than that. In a sane world they would prompt a retraction and an apology from Politico, not to mention professional embarrassment for every reporter who shares an office with Lovley.

It looks like she has fallen for press releases from Marc Morano, Sen. James Inhofe's house blogger. Morano sends trashy blasts to reporters all the time, but most of them have the good sense to ignore him. Seems he found a mark.

First, "Scientists urge caution on global warming" begins this way:

Climate change skeptics on Capitol Hill are quietly watching a growing accumulation of global cooling science and other findings that could signal that the science behind global warming may still be too shaky to warrant cap-and-trade legislation.

The most notable feature of this "growing accumulation of global cooling science" is that Lovley doesn't cite a single piece of it. Seriously. Not one.

Lovley tells us that a "small, growing number of scientists" are questioning the consensus on warming. Who are these scientists? First, there's notorious skeptic and Weather Channel founder Joseph D'Aleo, who is a meteorologist, not a climate scientist. He's also a member of the American Meteorological Association, which considers him an outlier and is one among dozens of scientific bodies that have endorsed the scientific consensus. D'Aleo's signal contribution is to refute climate science using ... the Farmer's Almanac.

The only other scientist cited by name is ... wait for it ... Patrick Michaels, the oldest, crustiest, most quoted skeptic on the planet. (You may recall that Virginia's governor recently asked him to stop embarrassing the state by using the title "state climatologist.")

The same old skeptics. Where is this "growing number"? Oh, wait:

More than 31,000 scientists across the world have signed the Global Warming Petition Project, a declaration started by a group of American scientists that states man's impact on climate change can't be reasonably proven.

Yes, Lovley is seriously citing the "petition project" from the Oregon Institute of Science and Medicine, which was roundly debunked way back when it first surfaced in 1998 and has been debunked dozens of times since (see, e.g., the National Academy of Sciences, MIT's John Tirman, RealClimate, Tim Lambert, or the Union of Concerned Scientists). The original petition was deceptive; only a handful of signatories come from relevant scientific disciplines; you can put yourself on the petition online. All this could be uncovered with a simple Google search, which was apparently beyond Lovley's journalistic abilities.

As further evidence, Inhofe "aides report that they have received countless e-mails from scientists worldwide supporting [global cooling] theory." They haven't released these names or emails, but hey, if Inhofe aides say so it must be legit, right? Who's more credible on climate science than James Inhofe and his aides?

In the entire article, not one scientist is quoted defending basic global warming consensus, which is supported by a vast array of peer-reviewed research and the vast majority of climate scientists. The one countervailing quote goes ... to Al Gore's spokeswoman.

But all that circa-'90s dumbassery pales before the second story, "Tracking 'The Gore Effect'," which is about the "effect" whereby it gets cold or snows when Al Gore speaks.

That's really what the story is about.

It contains this priceless passage, which is my nominee for the single stupidest sentence written by any journalist this year, possibly this century:

While there's no scientific proof that The Gore Effect is anything more than a humorous coincidence, some climate skeptics say it may offer a snapshot of proof that the planet isn't warming as quickly as some climate change advocates say.

Read that again. "Some" skeptics say it "may" offer a "snapshot of proof" that the planet isn't warming "as quickly" as "some climate change advocates" say. A journalist wrote that sentence. Politico published it.

If this is the level of journalism Politico finds appropriate, do you think you can trust its other stories?

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