Mainstream Media Malfeasance Showcased in Benghazi, Global Warming Reporting. Where's Woodward & Bernstein?

It seems the ongoing revelations of inconvenient truths about the Benghazi attack are going to drag the mainstream media into addressing the problem that Mitt Romney so famously brought up in the October 13th presidential debate; the ‘spontaneous demonstration’ designation being irreconcilable with evidence of it as a terrorist act. The mainstream media came to President Obama’s rescue when he claimed he’d called it an act of terror, first in debate moderator Candy Crowley’s on-the-spot (but erroneous) fact-checking, then in CBS’ 60 Minutes clip after the debate of an unaired portion of a 9/12 interview where the President seemingly confirmed that he’d called it an act of terror, and also in an October 17 ‘fact-check’ segment on the PBS NewsHour where the President’s debate point claim was seemingly upheld by references to his 9/11 Rose Garden remarks.

This is a pair of huge problems. The 60 Minutes clip egregiously left out – as was disclosed just three days before the election – the President’s statement that it was ‘too early to tell if the event was a terrorist attack. Meanwhile, I already detailed right here at RedState in my 10/17/12 article how the NewsHour’s defense of Obama falls apart when we look into their own 9/12 broadcast archive.

Worse, the very recent revelations about the eroding narratives of UN Ambassador Susan Rice implodes the notion floated by one media outlet, MSNBC, about Senator McCain having racial prejudice against Ms Rice. National Urban Policy Action Council (NuPac) founder Kevin Fobbs examines the Rice ‘race card’ in a very good essay here. But did we see any such examination by members of the mainstream media after the McCain / Graham / Ayotte news conference?

So, what we see is the mainstream media apparently taking the side of the Administration without questioning any part of it in the face of legitimate, plausible criticism. Is it sheer negligence? Or willful breaches of journalistic integrity in the pursuit of a political agenda?

To further illustrate how endemic this problem may be, take Mitt Romney’s surprised reaction to what President Obama said at the debate about Benghazi and apply that same reaction to the way skeptic climate scientists reacted in the late 80s / early ’90s to news of global warming erasing a decade’s worth of concern over global cooling.

If the number of red flags that the mainstream media overlooked in the Benghazi situation is highly troubling, then what was missed in the global warming narratives is a gargantuan problem. Skeptic climate scientists would offer mountains of dispute about the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change if news outlets like the PBS NewsHour would allow that. But if the mainstream media chose to ignore such skeptics because information was fed to them about the skeptics being “corrupted” by fossil fuel industry money, this may be the most crippling problem of all considering the red flags seen in this small sampling:

  • A 1991 New York Times article detailed a coal association’s PR ad campaign to downplay concerns about global warming, stating “[t]he goal of the campaign, according to one planning document, is to “reposition global warming as theory” and not fact.”, and that the document was leaked to the paper by the Sierra Club. To this day, no mention of the Sierra Club’s role in this matter can be seen in their current or archive web pages.
  • In a 1992 Boston Globe article written by Ross Gelbspan, climate scientist Stephen Schneider said in regard to skeptic scientists “[…] it is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field.” Senator Al Gore’s quote concluded the article by saying, “The overall weight of evidence […] is so clear that one begins to feel angry toward those who exaggerate the uncertainty.” The article also insinuated that skeptic scientists held politically motivated views, but no evidence was presented about either the actual quantity of scientists involved in the issue or how the issue was ‘scientifically settled’.
  • In 1996, the enviro-activist group Ozone Action issued reports slamming skeptic climate scientists as fossil fuel industry shills, stating in one that “According to documents obtained by Ozone Action and by Ross Gelbspan, […] strategies were laid out including: the repositioning of global warming as theory, not fact…” The reports do not state whom the documents were obtained from.
  • In 1997, Gelbspan, published “The Heat Is On” featuring a chapter where the above mentioned coal association strategy document phrase, reworded as “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”, was offered as proof of those scientists’ corruption at the hands of the fossil fuel industry. Gelbspan did not cite either the NY Times or the Sierra Club for the source of the document in his book.
  • In 2006, Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth” movie spelled out the “reposition global warming” phrase full screen as a direct comparison to the infamous 1969 tobacco industry leaked memo “Doubt is Our Product”. Gore’s movie companion book stated that the coal association phrase “was discovered by the Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Ross Gelbspan”. The Pulitzer organization does not acknowledge Gelbspan as a Pulitzer winner.
  • Gore’s 2010 “Our Choice” book makes the same tobacco / fossil fuel industry comparison on pages 356-57, repeats the ‘memo discovery’ accolade for Gelbspan on page 358, while calling him a Pulitzer winner on page 411. On the same page, Gore thanks his spokesperson Kalee Kreider, “who has been of invaluable assistance in all of my climate work.” A current Fenton Communications bio page for Kreider notes her July 2012 return to Fenton after leaving Gore’s office, and prior to her previous work at Fenton (the PR firm which promoted Gelbspan’s book in 1997), she had “worked for ten years in the non-profit community, helping to start Ozone Action and then […] for Greenpeace”.
  • Ozone Action was merged with Greenpeace USA in 2000, and its founder took over as Executive Director of Greenpeace USA.
  • Al Gore’s 1992 book “Earth in the Balance” quoted phrases from the very same memo set that he later claimed Gelbspan had discovered. Gore apparently had the memo set at least three years prior to Gelbspan.
  • The “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact”as proof to indict skeptic climate scientists falls apart when anyone reads the full-context memos at Greenpeace archive scan pages (where only astute researchers would know to look for them; they aren’t found via ordinary internet searches). The memos were quite obviously for a very limited pilot project PR campaign, and the “reposition global warming” phrase only appears to be a ‘sinister industry directive‘ when it is seen out-of-context.

When Washington Post reporters Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein showed how narratives in Watergate did not remotely add up right, they ultimately became journalism legends. The narratives in the Benghazi situation still aren’t lining up right, and they most certainly do not line up in any form when it comes to the notion that skeptic climate scientists operate in a manner that is supposed to be a parallel to the way ‘expert shills’ worked for the tobacco industry.

People like CNN’s Wolf Blitzer revere the doggedness of Watergate reporting, yet he and his fellow reporters seem oblivious to their failures to emulate that, and they might actually look like deer caught in the headlights if the public skewers them on Benghazi and global warming by demanding to know “Where are the Woodwards and Bernsteins?”


Russell Cook has nine previous RedState articles on the global warming issue, and his entire collection on the issue can be seen at “The ’96-to-present smear of skeptic scientists” . Follow him at Twitter via @questionAGW