Friday, February 12, 2010

Mann report makes mistake and fails to ask the tough questions

Updated 5/4/2010-refer to outcome below for ABC reply
ABC HEADLINE: Key climategate scientist cleared of wrong doing ABC NEWS Online 12/2/2010

ABC REPORTED: ABC reporter Tim Leslie reported that one of the key scientists involved in the 'Climategate' email scandal has been cleared of any wrongdoing, and had allegations of manipulating and hiding data dismissed. The report claimed that: "The University looked through all of Dr Mann's email correspondences in making its findings." 

THE COMPLAINT:  1. Factual error: the university only considered emails released by hackers or leaked by a whistle blower from the University of East Anglia; or emails by Mann related to the fourth IPCC assessment report. It did not consider "all (key word being ALL) of Dr Mann's email correspondences in making its findings." Please correct the report.


"From November 30 to December 14, 2009, staff in the Office for Research Protections culled through approximately 1075 of the emails that were purloined from a server at the University of East Anglia. Emails were reviewed if they were sent by Dr. Mann, were sent to Dr. Mann, were copied to Dr. Mann, or discussed Dr. Mann (but were neither addressed nor copied to him)."

"On January 15, 2010, and on behalf of the inquiry committee, Dr. Foley conveyed via email an additional request of Dr. Mann, who was asked to produce all emails related to the fourth IPCC report (“AR4”), the same emails that Dr. Phil Jones had suggested that he delete."

2. Lack of query. The report fails to tackle questions raised that the Penn State's inquiry into Dr Mann was open to bias. These issued have been raised by various online discussion forums including Climate Audit who raised issues and deficiencies with the investigation process (see ). Under ABC editorial policy 5.2.2 ABC has a duty to be questioning to serve the public interest. In this case it did not provide additional commentary on issues and deficiencies of the investigatory committee widely raised in online media.


Thank you for your email regarding the ABC News online report Key ‘climategate’ scientist cleared of wrongdoing.

Your concerns have been investigated by Audience and Consumer Affairs, a unit which is separate to and independent of program making areas within the ABC.  We have reviewed the broadcast, assessed it against the ABC’s editorial standards and sought and considered material provided by ABC News.

Having reviewed the report, Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that it would be patently clear to its audience that the sentence“The University looked through all of Dr Mann's email correspondences in making its findings” referred to the emails relevant to their inquiry and did not mean every email Dr Mann had ever written.  The context in which the sentence was published was sufficiently clear and there is no breach of the ABC’s editorial standards.

Audience and Consumer Affairs is satisfied that the report was suitably questioning and the article is in keeping with section 5 of the Corporation’s Editorial Policies, which are available online at the attached link;

Your comments have been noted.

Yours sincerely

COMMENT: Factual error: Penn State considered only those email derived from leaks at the University of East Anglia and those requested from Michael Mann pertaining to IPCC report 4. It did not consider ALL emails (This would have been interesting) report the facts, don't make them up.
Journalists are supposed to be sceptical, it seems that those investigating climate science for the ABC are not.

Relevant ABC Editorial Policy sections
Facts:5.2.1 and 5.2.2
Questions:5.2.2 (f)

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