Monday, June 24, 2013

Media Watch: Groupthink incorporated

Must be doing something right as we gained a brief mention on tonight's episode of Media Watch which dealt in its usual skewed manner with climate change reporting. No criticism of the work being done for "the cause" by our ABC, of course. Our brief claim to fame was in the form of a brief cut away to a recent opinion piece published in The Australian. Media Watch did not get in touch with us directly, that might raise too many uncomfortable questions.

" gave rise to another ABC-bashing piece
in the Australian’s op-ed page...

— The Australian, 5th June, 2013"

The piece in The Australian (see below) pointed out gross deficiencies, hypocrisy and blatant bias in ABC's climate change coverage. Pointing out the gross deficiencies, hypocrisy and blatant bias hardly constitutes "ABC bashing" but when you can't take critical comments I guess the easy option is to resort to sensationalism. We have seen this from Auntie in the past. The article compared treatment of ABC's coverage of two published scientific papers, one was withdrawn from publication due methodological problems identified by a climate sceptic, the other passed peer review. Somehow ABC did not regard reporting on the withdrawn paper as newsworthy. For the paper published the only coverage was of its critics (until we stepped in and the author was allowed a brief riposte to unqualified comments).

Critical reporting on ABC's coverage of climate change has been passed over by Media Watch. As we have seen here it is an area that would bear much fruit if scrutinised properly. Among the issues include: numerous factual errors, numerous stories against alarm go unreported - missing in action, decisions about what gets covered are made by environmental activists, activist organisations have easy access to ABC's editors to promulgate propaganda and ABC refrains from asking alarmists the tough questions it asked rightly of sceptics. (The recent comments by an ex defense chief about the probability of human's being around in 90 years on ABC Breakfast, along with any ABC interview of Tim Flannery cases in point but the links fully elucidate the level of ABC's bias).
Pity Mr Holmes didn't bother to tackle the substance of the article. But for Mr Holmes, and other members of ABC's Alarmist climate change clique, critical thinking on subject isn't required when you have already made your mind up. Any new facts, such as the recent halt in global warming that now enters its 15th year, the gross disparities between climate models and observations, and reporting on papers withdrawn from publication due to methodological problems identified by climate sceptics are mere unwelcome distractions on the path to a carbon (dioxide) free utopia.

If you missed the piece in The Australian it's repeated below, links included, with my original headline.

The path for ABC coverage for climate heretics is paved with broken glass.
Marc Hendrickx
There’s no doubt that ABC has a problem when it comes to fair and balanced reporting on the issue of climate change. Around this time last year the ABC gave two prominent Australian climate researchers almost carte blanche access to its radio, TV and online networks to spruik a paper they had written that claimed recent temperatures in Australia were the warmist in a 1000 years. Researchers David Karoly and Joelle Gergis scored almost blanket coverage on ABC’s AM, Radio National’s Breakfast Program, Radio AustraliaABC TV news, The Science Show. If was even tweeted by ABC Local Radio and was featured on ABC’s online website. None of these articles featured criticism from independent experts.

Gergis and Karoly’s paper was short lived. Online climate sceptics lead by Steve McIntyre of Climate Audit found methodological problems with the work, and the paper was subsequently withdrawn from publication to the embarrassment of the authors. The paper’s withdrawal was covered by News Limited and Fairfax press but was not covered by the ABC. The only mention by ABC was a brief editorial comment posted at the end of online articles. To our knowledge no formal correction was broadcast on ABC radio or TV.
For those who agree with the ABC’s vision of a nightmarish global warming future it seems the path to publicity and fame is paved with honey. However when you publish a paper that doesn’t fit the ABC’s entrenched position on Climate Change a different path awaits.  

The Australian recently reported on a new peer reviewed paper (CFCs 'are the real culprit in global warming', 3/6) that goes against the current consensus that global warming is caused mainly by CO2 emissions. The paper published in the International Journal of Modern Physics B by Canadian Physics Professor Qing-Bin Lu suggests interactions between CFCs and cosmic rays are the source of the polar ozone hole and global warming.  This appears a significant result worthy of media attention. Oddly ABC’s coverage of the paper by reporter Martin Cuddihy featured not the author of the paper, but IPCC author Dr David Karoly. In their article ABC seems to have thrown out section 4 of its Editorial Policies that deals with impartiality and diversity of perspectives. The ABC:
  • did not interview the author of the paper or provide an opportunity for him to reply to criticism levelled against his work.
  •  downplayed the credentials of Professor Lu and failed to include an interesting Australian link. It seems Professor Lu gained his PhD at the University of Newcastle
  • Over emphasised the qualifications of critic Dr David Karoly, whose base degree is in mathematics, not climate science.
  •  made fun of the paper by claiming "The paper has a rather wordy title". The paper is titled COSMIC-RAY-DRIVEN REACTION AND GREENHOUSE EFFECT OF HALOGENATED MOLECULES: CULPRITS FOR ATMOSPHERIC OZONE DEPLETION AND GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE.  19 words. Recent papers by ABC's critic, Dr David Karoly include this one: On the long-term context of the 1997-2009 'Big Dry' in South-Eastern Australia: insights from a 206-year multi-proxy rainfall reconstruction. 24 words! It is surely no surprise that some science articles have long titles but it seems ABC’s critic Dr Karoly wins the wordiness contest. How this relevant to the topic is beyond me.
  •  did not question claims made by Dr Karoly that unfairly misrepresented of the content of an international science journal. Karoly states:  “It has been published in a journal which appears to not normally publish articles on climate change science”. A search of "climate change" in "International Journal of Modern Physics B" provides 8 25 results, "global warming" provides 7 27 results. Contrary to Dr Karoly’s claims it seems articles on climate change are quite normal in this journal.

ABC based its report on one heavily biased opinion. It didn’t even bother to speak with the author! Throw section 4 out the window.

It’s been more than 3 years since former ABC Chairmen Maurice Newman pointed out ABC had a groupthink problem with its climate change coverage. It seems that ABC Managing Director has done absolutely nothing in those three years to address it. Sadly, based on Mr Scott’s recent performance in senate estimates defending the appointment of the partisan Russell Skelton as the ABC’s new fact checker I don’t have any hope his limp wristed management style will result in any change in ABC’s biased coverage. 


  1. You might want to note that the last dot point is incorrect. A search of the journal only yields 8 results for "climate change" and 7 for "global warming".
    ... at least Karoly's statement on the choice of journal was correct

  2. Yes, thanks for that we left off the "" when using the search terms. Still shows the journal has published on the topic though rather rarely. Generally it seems when a high physics component is included as was the case with Prof. Lu. Thanks Again


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