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Thursday, May 21, 2020
Yes, Tim Graham, NewsBusters Did Push The Climategate Hoax
Topic: NewsBusters

The most thin-skinned right-winger when it comes to criticism of his operation (behind WorldNetDaily's Joseph Farah, of course) is the Media Research Center's Tim Graham. He can't admit his own errors, and he's certainly not about to admit when the MRC operation for which he serves as executive editor, NewsBusters, screws up.

Graham spent an April 30 post complaining about "one of those dramatically one-sided climate fearmongering-documentaries" hosted by CNN's Bill Weir. He went on to complain:

Weir ripped conservatives as part of a "machinery of denial" funded by the oil companies. As he promoted climate activist/scientist Michael Mann, he presented the 2009 scandal known as "Climategate" as a "malevolent hoax" created by, among others, the late Noel Sheppard of NewsBusters and other conservative bloggers, like Ed Driscoll and Geoff Metcalf. There was zero rebuttal offered to Mann's "malevolent" spin. 

When Weir pointed out that "Multiple investigations from the EPA to the UK's House of Commons cleared them and declared Climategate was a malevolent hoax," Graham went on a tirade (bolding in original):

Weir failed to explain that the House of Commons inquiry took only one day of oral testimony and said it was not an inquiry into the science issues. I can't find the words "malevolent hoax" in there, or in the EPA press release. But Weir could always show us where he got that loaded phrase.

If you were to read the actual NewsBusters blog by Noel Sheppard -- as the scandal was breaking -- it's a very straightforward summary of what the hacked e-mails said. This is one of the "cherry-picked" phrases from Mann: "I’ve just completed Mike’s Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) and from 1961 for Keith’s to hide the decline." 

In other words, Mann was fudging numbers.

No, he didn't. As actual researchers documented:

"Mike's Nature trick" refers to a technique (a "trick of the trade") by Michael Mann to plot recent instrumental data along with reconstructed past temperature. This places recent global warming trends in the context of temperature changes over longer time scales.

There is nothing secret about "Mike's trick". Both the instrumental and reconstructed temperature are clearly labelled. Claiming this is some sort of secret "trick" or confusing it with "hide the decline" displays either ignorance or a willingness to mislead.


The common misconception that scientists tried to hide a decline in global temperatures is false. The decline in tree-ring growth is plainly discussed in the publicly available scientific literature. The divergence in tree-ring growth does not change the fact that we are currently observing many lines of evidence for global warming. The obsessive focus on a misquote taken out of context, doesn't change the scientific case that human-caused climate change is real.

So, yes, Climategate was a cherry-picked hoax pushed by right-wing activists -- the fact that it was malevolent would seem to be self-evident, even if Graham can't find the actual word in any of the debunkings he cites -- and Sheppard and NewsBusters indisputably pushed it.

We've documented Sheppard's lengthy history of climate change bamboozlement -- to the point where he pushed the bogus idea that back-to-back blizzards in Washington, D.C., somehow proved there was no global warming. Needless to say, the MRC has never corrected Sheppard's original "hide the decline" post where he deliberately misinterpreted the information, despite his similarly lengthy history of pushing falsehoods in general. So maybe Graham shouldn't be so aggressively defending Sheppard's original work.

Then again, Graham is in full deflection mode. He won't concede that Sheppard and NewsBusters got it wrong, so he attacks studies that showed the hoax, then tried to misdirect by complaining that "these supposedly fact-based scientists worked to censor opposing viewpoints from the scientific literature."

Weir is not wrong, and Graham knows it. But Graham -- rather pettily and selfishly -- is not going to give Weir the satisfaction of admitting that.

Posted by Terry K. at 6:01 PM EDT

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