There are certain oxymoronic clichés that get trotted out de tiempo a tiempo to tepid applause and politely forced laughter. Military Intelligence, honor among whores and rank among Civil Servants are an indicative subset. We can now add credibility among climate scientists to the burgeoning list. Dr. Michael Mann of Penn State University’s proud and illustrious faculty was made livid by the acerbic and satirical needling he received from Mark Steyn. So livid that he had his law firm Cozen O’Conner draft a letter threatening to sue NRO for defamation.
It seems that Dr. Mann demands that the Mark Steyn retract a recent blog entry of his entitled “Football and Hockey” and immediately apologize. He may afterwards expect the entire NRO staff to kiss his tree rings while kneeling devoutly in the snow of Happy Valley.
Steyn egregiously tells the truth about Mann as a professional and a human being and doesn’t shy away from quoting other authors who compare Dr. Mann with certain infamous people who are no longer fixtures among the bucolic campus grounds. Steyn goes inveighing below.
Michael Mann was the man behind the fraudulent climate-change “hockey-stick” graph, the very ringmaster of the tree-ring circus. And, when the East Anglia emails came out, Penn State felt obliged to “investigate” Professor Mann….Whether or not he’s “the Jerry Sandusky of climate change”, he remains the Michael Mann of climate change, in part because his “investigation” by a deeply corrupt administration was a joke.
The metaphor is a stretch. No data set, however roughly violated, can be emotionally scarred for life. I could certainly understand if Dr. Mann and Mr. Steyn won’t be exchanging hortatory greeting cards during the winter holidays. The lawsuit threat, however, is troglodytic thug behavior with which NRO deals with exceptionally well.
NRO had their people (Baker Hostetler) tell Dr. Mann’s people where exactly he can go sheath the hockey stick. They kindly advised him that their discovery process would involve an in depth technical review of his research. (if Dr. Mann persues the matter he and his research would be subjected to a very extensive discovery of materials…) Yet this wasn’t even the most delightful part of the communiqué.
I was personally partial to the section that cited Dr. Mann’s own accusations against Congressmen Issa and Sensenbrenner. These individuals were out to get climate science if Dr. Mann is to be believed. Once you’ve called elected officials inquisitors under the auspices of your 1st Amendment Rights, the standards by which something can be judged as legally defamatory become far more rigorous than the peer review Dr. Mann and his colleagues ever faced from the UN IPCC.
The icing atop the cake was when NRO’s legal squad cited Hustler Magazine, Inc. v. Falwell as a legal precedent by which a conservative media outlet could pretty much write anything it pleased about a liberal public figure. Once the courts have established “humorous parodies” that involve someone you ideologically don’t like having sex with their mother in an outhouse are coarse but acceptable, Jerry Sandusky jokes are pretty much sauce for the goose being ladled onto the gander. This a classic and condign case of a litigious lefty being hoist on his own petard.
In telling Dr. Mann to get lost, NRO Editor Rich Lowry provides a condign response to an slimy smear merchant who has never stopped for a moment in his efforts to defame his scientific and ideological opponents. Dr. Mann has gone far further than he deserved on gall, chutzpah and brazen dishonesty. If he can’t take a punch, he should exit the ring. As Rich Lowry so aptly put it – Get Lost!