As ABC's "World News Tonight" breathlessly reported: "Part of the ice cap at the top of the world has melted. The New York Times reports that some scientists are calling it dramatic proof that global warming has started to alter our climate."
The Times itself had run a hysterical, front-page, above-the-fold report on the shocking development, claiming that "an ice-free patch of ocean about a mile wide has opened at the very top of the world, something that has presumably never before been seen by humans and is more evidence that global warming may be real and already affecting climate."
It wasn't until about 20 other newspapers had rebroadcast the news that global warming was melting Santa's home that the Times issued a rather comprehensive "correction" of the original article. It seems the article "misstated the normal conditions of the sea ice there" and that the "lack of ice at the pole is not necessarily related to global warming."
The "Oops! Our mistake" correction about such a spectacularly alarmist story led David Letterman to create a Top 10 list for the "Top 10 Signs The New York Times Is Slipping" including: "Instead of 'All the News That's Fit to Print,' slogan is 'Stuff We Heard From a Guy Who Says His Friend Heard About It,'" and "Notice on sports page: 'All scores are approximate.'"
In the paper's full-bore retraction article on Page F-3, it was now explained that reports of water at the North Pole "are not as surprising as suggested" in the original article. It seems there is always a little puddle of water at the North Pole in the summer. It shifts a bit, but it always emerges in the summer months. "This has probably been true for centuries," scientists said.
In 10 days we went from this hyperventilating headline, "Ages-Old Ice Cap at North Pole Is Now Liquid, Scientists Find," to this one: "Open Water at Pole Is Not Surprising, Experts Say." The Times completely disavowed the whole point of its original Page 1, banner-headline article as having "referred incompletely" to the nexus between the moving puddle and "global warming."
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