Dr. Mann confirmed the e-mail was real, but told the Times "the choice of words by his colleague was poor but noted that scientists often used the word 'trick' to refer to a good way to solve a problem," and not as something secret.
Doesn't a network correspondent just smell the fraud when scientists start offering lame excuses for the words they somehow didn't mean? Don't just listen to conservatives. Try Nate Silver, a statistician and liberal-media favorite, recently named one of Time's 100 Most Influential People. He says the scientists in this exchange were unethical:
"Dr. Jones, talking candidly about sexing up a graph to make his conclusions more persuasive. This is not a good thing to do -- I'd go so far as to call it unethical -- and Jones deserves some of the loss of face that he will suffer." But then he adds the typical liberal disclaimer: "Unfortunately, this is the sort of thing that happens all the time in both academia and the private sector -- have you ever looked at the graphs in the annual report of a company which had a bad year? And it seems to happen all too often on both sides of the global warming debate."
When conservatives are wrong, conservatives are wrong. When liberals are wrong, everyone does it, don't you know?
It's also important to note that these folks play a rough game of hardball. This isn't about science. It's politics -- the brass-knuckles sort. In another e-mail from Jones to Mann, reported in The Washington Post, there's talk of cutting skeptical scientists out of the official United Nations report: "I can't see either of these papers being in the next IPCC report," Jones writes. "Kevin and I will keep them out somehow -- even if we have to redefine what the peer-review literature is!"
In another, Jones and Mann discuss how they can pressure an academic journal to reject the work of climate skeptics, perhaps with a boycott: "Perhaps we should encourage our colleagues in the climate research community to no longer submit to, or cite papers in, this journal," Mann writes. "I will be emailing the journal to tell them I'm having nothing more to do with it until they rid themselves of this troublesome editor," Jones replies.
This kind of censor-your-opponents activity ought to disgust a journalist who values openness and rigorous debate above all. Every day the networks avoid this story, they're saying they don't really care about either of those values. In fact, they become willing accomplices in a cover-up of global proportions.
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