Philosophical Conversations Public Opinion Junk for code
parliament house.gif
Think Tanks
Oz Blogs
Economic Blogs
Foreign Policy Blogs
International Blogs
Media Blogs
South Australian Weblogs
Economic Resources
Environment Links
Political Resources
South Australian Links
"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

The Drum beats badly « Previous | |Next »
December 9, 2009

Jonathon Green, ex Crikey editor, promised that the ABC's new online portal The Drum would provide quality and professional commentary-based journalism:

This is not news, this is not opinion, this is thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis. We'll be taking the issues and ideas that count and digging a little deeper into and around them. Looking for a real sense of understanding.

This, he added, would involve analytic takes on the world and events around us by taking a set of facts or known circumstances and holding them up to the light... then having a chat about it.

Well, let's have a chat about a particular piece they published yesterday. This is Kill the IPPC article by Bob Carter on Unleashed, which is part of The Drum's stable and so presumably, falls under its journalistic ethos. Carter asserts or claims that:

the study of climate change, under the aegis of "dangerous global warming caused by human carbon dioxide emissions," has long since been captured by the small group of well connected, well networked and well funded atmospheric scientists and computer modellers who advise the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and whose nearly every utterance confirms their ignorance of the true course of climate history and change on our planet - a topic that is the domain of geologists, not meteorologists and computer jockeys.

It's a big claim: nearly every utterance of IPCC confirms their ignorance of the true course of climate history and change on our planet. There is no argument argument to justify this claim of "nearly every utterance." No facts are given.

We are merely offered an interpretation of the Climategate affair without any attempt to deal with the different interpretations of the significance of these leaked emails that challenge Carter's corruption thesis. The latter implies that science and policy is based on what is said in personal emails from people who are developing some sort of scientific story, rather than the literature that appears in peer-reviewed journals.

This is not holding things up to the light. It is chasing shadows inside the cave. This is more holding things up to the light in the context of thoughtful and informed analysis.

Carter then says this:

Behind the corrupted science of Climategate and the fall of the IPCC, then, lie two things. The first is the degradation, mainly by political interference, of research conditions and practices within modern government-funded research groups. The second is the power and financial clout of the modern, ecoevangelistic Green movement, egged on by crusading media reporters and editors. The world has probably never before seen a propaganda and political machine that is as well oiled, well funded and well organized as this modern army of apocalyptics and their media flag-wavers.

He ends by saying that the siren song of the Greens imperils both our standard of living and, ironically, the state of our natural environment.

The fall of the IPC is the inference! That conclusion merely rephrases the initial assertion that nearly every utterance of IPCC confirms their ignorance of the true course of climate history and change on our planet.

So much for the ABC's "thoughtful" analysis. This is a polemic that belongs on the pages of The Australian appealing to, and stirring up, its populist conservative base. Green knows from his experience at Crikey that this is junk analysis, so they are consciously running the junk under the banner of "thought-provoking" to establish their profile in the digital market place.

Does the ABC need to do tabloid to establish its digital commentary brand and to drum up an audience? My take is that in letting Carter's article through it has undermined the values of professional journalism about objectivity (broadly understood) that it professes to uphold.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 3:33 PM | | Comments (10)


Well said sir!

Island View,
The ABC needs some criticism from its friends to help sort out its confusions. They do seem to be a tad unsure of what it is they are supposed to be doing with "thoughtful and thought-provoking analysis."

What does objectivity (broadly understood) in journalism mean?

I second Island View.

My jaw fell on the desk when I saw Carter's article, via an Unleashed feed. There does seem to be a problem with just herding Unleashed into the Drum tent, if the Drum is to be what's claimed. Unleashed is more of a free for all where any nutjob with a spell check can get published. Definitely the opinion end of the opinion/analysis spectrum.

There's a risk that the Unleashed stuff will contaminate the reputation the Drum seems to be aiming for if they keep publishing polemics there.

I think it is reasonable for Carter's piece to appear, even though Carter is an obsessive idiot. He reflects a view held by maybe a quarter or a third of the Australian population and a consistent cry of the climate denialists is that they are being censored or otherwise silenced (presumably they fear that nobody reads the op-ed pages in the Australian).

The Drum followed up with a couple of good countering pieces by Bob Ellis and Barry Jones, along with a report by Margot O'Neill that some climate scientists have received death threats because of their positions.

Think of Bob Carter as a climate change party piƱata. Whack to open up.

I third it.

I'm getting heartily sick of seeing 'the usual suspects', all half dozen or so of them, plomped into every 'balanced discussion of AGW as if they have anything credible to offer.
On ABC News a night or so ago we had Lord Monckton pontificating.
No credentials, no credibility, no value.
Then Tony Jones repeats disinformation as a given in an interview much to his discredit but not my surprise.

Somebody has to do something about the media in this country.
I'm looking at you Kev.

I have no problem with Carter, or other denialists or skeptics, being published at the Drum. The more the merrier as it is a complex conversation.

My concern is that the lack of argument (the poor quality of Carter's work) means that the ABC is not doing what it claims to be doing. It should not be published under the auspices of The Drum. If Unleashed is akin to a digital soapbox (and Carter's piece is polemics), then it is the opposite of what the Drum supposedly stands for.

Carter should know how to argue--he's a professor in a university and has the skills. Instead he avoids the alternative interpretations of the climategate emails that correct popular misconceptions about what the emails say, put them in scientific context and explain the importance of scientific integrity.

Carter is the respectable part of the fog or noise being created by the public relations industry to protect the vested interests of the coal industry who want to see nothing done and to frighten people whose jobs depend on digging coal or smelting steel.

What is worse is that with Tony Abbott we have a Liberal Leader who reckons that world seems to be getting cooler. That makes him a denialist defending the fossil fuel industry.

Finally I comprehend the source of Carter and Plimer's disgusting behaviour.

"... the true course of climate history and change on our planet - a topic that is the domain of geologists, not meteorologists and computer jockeys."

The poor pets' noses are out of joint because others have dared to intrude on their 'domain'.

What pathetic individuals.

Ken, they'd be particularly sulky because, in the days when they studied geology, it was often disparaged (by mathematicians) as a field of study which suited those who were too mathematically challenged to balance their cheque books. (That's a bit harsh, but funny.) And after all, what are computer programmers and climate modellers but a kind of mathematician?