Today I learned that I am on some sort of media “do not call” list related to my work on climate. Long story short, yesterday I spoke at length to a reporter for Mashable, which is apparently a news website of some sort. The site soon after published a story of dubious scientific accuracy in which I was quoted as saying the opposite of what I told the reporter.

Here is a longer version of the exchange. And here (in PDF) is some of my research that I shared with the reporter. I took to Twitter with a few messages, including this one:

Mashable responded with this:

Mashable responded not by correcting the error, but by revising the story to remove my perspective, adding a footnote to say that I agreed with everything that they wrote. Are journalistic ethics an oxymoron? But I digress.

I speak to reporters just about everyday and am often quoted in the media on all sorts of topics. The only issue on which I have had repeated trouble with any reporters is in the area of climate change, in which a certain subset of reporters seem to want me to play the role of a cartoon villain in their predetermined narrative (you know the one: its worse than we thought, here is a stupid denier, yada yada yada).

And those are the better reporters. The worst of this type are the reporters who actively campaigned to delegitimize my views or, remarkably, have publicly campaigned for me to be fired from my job. Lovely people these.

If Mashable wants to publish clickbait nonsense, I have no problem with that. It must be a good business model. But if they choose to mischaracterize my views to fit their narrative, they should expect some public push back. Given my experiences with the activist climate media, I don’t have much patience for these sorts of games.

I have gone back and forth about including a chapter in THB2 on my personal experiences in the “climate wars.” My reluctance is that the climate debate can be a giant sucking maw that can consume all in its vicinity. On the other hand, the experiences I’ve had – attacked by the president’s science advisor, investigated by a congressman, fired from a job for my views, etc. make for some pretty good lessons for the practice of working at the science and policy interface.

I’m pretty much over the climate wars, having had my say, but learning that I’m on a media blacklist does help to tip the scales towards including this chapter. Stay tuned!

Advertisements