Bad idea — Ross Gelbspan popped out of the woodwork with a ‘legacy affirming’ video

He was probably counting on the Democrats holding their majority in the U.S. House. So, piling on to the basic theme of my November 16 blog post – and now asking on behalf of 220 Republican friends – how’s it going to work out when you have to defend your accusation that the “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact” ‘leaked memo’ directive is smoking gun proof that skeptic climate scientists were paid under the table by fossil fuel industry executives, when the fellow who first gained the most fame hurling that accusation in direct connection with that phrase can’t keep his stories straight about his role in the matter?

Again, no exaggeration there about that worthless-as-evidence memo directive phrase (it was never implemented anywhere) being the only thing enviro-activists have in their arsenal to support their accusation about the fossil fuel industry bankrolling disinformation campaigns, and I’m not kidding about the namesake of my GelbspanFiles blog telling one inconsistent story after another when it comes to what prompted him to “expose” the “industry corruption” of skeptic climate scientists. He threw one more of those onto his pile with his September 24 ‘reporter legacy’ Youtube video appearance.

Investigators can’t fully know how faulty the accusation about skeptic scientists sinisterly “repositioning global warming” if they don’t know how faulty the stories about it are from one of the most prominent faces of that accusation.

So, let’s examine Gelbspan’s latest story of his life as an “investigative reporter” while comparing it to his and others’ interview retellings.

Just 8 seconds into his speech here, he repeats something quite similar dating back minimally to the time when he was promoting his 2004 “Boiling Point” book. Compare what he said in this video barely over two months ago …

I was a journalist, not an environmentalist. I didn’t get into the climate issue because I love the trees. I tolerate the trees. I got into the issue because I learned the coal industry was paying a handful of scientists under the table to say nothing was happening to the climate. So the impulse that propelled me into this work has nothing to do with the love of nature. It came from a deeply held belief on which I based a 30 year career, that in the democracy we need honest information on which to base our decisions. And in this case, some very powerful interests were hijacking our reality. And I know in my bones, and from all my experience, that bodes very badly for the democracy. It also turns out that it bodes very badly for the planet as well.

…to what he said in a September 2004 phone interview:

… it got me really upset as a reporter. I didn’t get into this because I love the trees—I sort of tolerate the trees. I got into it because I really believe that in a democracy we need honest information.

I was fortunate enough to find out that these greenhouse skeptics were getting paid sort of under the table by the coal industry.

Want to see what he said in September repeated almost identically? Have a look at his October 2009 speech to his hometown high school students. The highlighted words are the changes from what he said in his September Youtube video:

Want to hear those nearly exact words from him and see him when he looked much more lively? He offers that starting at the 1:04 point of this 2006 Earthlands presentation video. Continuing at the 1:35 point are the bits about “the impulse that propelled me into this work” / “democracy … honest information” / “in my bones.”

Notice how I have the word “a handful” red-highlighted in the transcript of his September ‘reporter legacy’ Youtube video. In his October 2009 Brookline High School speech, the words were “a couple.” In his 2004 telephone interview, he said it was “several scientists.” In his April 2005 interview with Mother Jones magazine, he quantified them as “some scientists.” just like he did in the above 2006 Earthlands video.

Want to see him quantify exactly how many scientists he says were “paid under the table” while naming them directly? He did that at the 10:58 point of the Earthlands video:

… Western Fuels, which is a 400 million dollar coal operation, it was very candid in its annual report, it said it was out to attack mainstream scientists, it hired three scientists who were skeptical of this phenomenon Pat Michaels, Bob Balling, Fred Singer, it turned out they paid these three scientists more than a million dollars under the table, which was never disclosed publicly until we wrote about it. Western Fuels and several coal utilities then launched a big PR effort, they sent these scientist all over the country to do a lot of media interviews and lectures and appearances … We got a copy of the strategy papers for that campaign. And it says specifically that the campaign is designed to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact“, and more specifically it said it was designed to target “older, less-educated men” and “young, low-income women” …

Want see those three names again, with the trees /democracy bits, and the extra name of Dr Richard Lindzen? It’s in the hardcover’s pages x – xi Preface of his 2004 “Boiling Point” book. Want to see him name just those three within a single sentence of the “reposition global warming” / “older, less-educated men” / “young, low-income women” lines. That’s on page 34 of his 1997 “The Heat is On” hardcover book. Want to see where he swaps out one of those names without any explanation? That’s on page 34 of his 1998 paperback version.

What do you see when you dive in deeper?

  • At the time of allegedly learning of the “payments under the table” bit in 1995, there is no indication anywhere that he was a working journalist, freelance or at a news outlet, anywhere.
  • He was clearly an environmental advocate in his final days as a Boston Globe reporter in 1992, years before ‘learning’ about supposedly corrupt climate scientists.
  • Dr S Fred Singer had no involvement whatsoever with the Western Fuels Association 1991 “Information Council for the Environment (ICE) public relations campaign, which has the unsolicited, never-implemented “reposition global warming” strategy / audience targeting suggestion falsely attributed to it.
  • The ICE campaign was only seen in three small cities during a 2½ week period, not “all over the country.”

All of this, from having not taking the first minute of his September ‘reporter legacy’ video at face value. For the next nearly eleven minutes, he portrays himself as an ordinary investigative reporter encountering extraordinary situations in the Soviet Union and alleged FBI shenanigans in Central America, the latter of which he notes landed him “a run of front page newspaper stories and a book,” which he doesn’t name. It’s title is “Break-ins, Death Threats and the FBI,”, the middle part of the title stemming from threats he allegedly received from pursuing the FBI angle. I leave its entire contents to others to dissect, but if there’s one item about it that should cause everyone to wonder about its overall veracity, it’s the blurb on the back cover about him winning a Pulitzer Prize.

He never won a Pulitzer Prize. There is no dispute about that.

Yet he uses the trauma of his ‘FBI exposé’ and his promise to his family not to put them through that again as a segue to tell the story of how he – again as a disinterested ‘reporter’ – “accidentally tumbled into the global climate crisis” in the spring of 1995. So, let’s see how his narrative now stacks up against his prior narratives:

11:19 point … it was a piece of investigative reporting that propelled me into climate change. In the early ’90s, I was very close friends with a Harvard scientist … he was so passionate about the issue of global warming back then that despite his credentials, I felt I needed a more sober assessment. So, I read the work of three climate skeptics, and they convinced me that there was no climate change problem. … the skeptics were so persuasive that I was about to drop the subject … but as a courtesy, I wanted to keep an appointment I made earlier with Dr James McCarthy … he later became head of Working Group 1 of the IPCC … when I asked McCarthy whether climate changed posed a truly serious threat, he said as slowly and clearly as possible “if this unstable climate we are now beginning to see had begun a hundred years ago, the planet would never be able to support its current population.” That got my attention.

Huh. If the prior unnamed “so passionate” / ‘less than sobering’ scientist didn’t grab his attention, why did Dr McCarthy, then? And how does it follow that he deemed his close scientist friend to be overly “passionate” about the climate issue, but not his own over-the-top articles, and why would he speak of learning about skeptic climate scientists when he had already specifically written about them three years earlier as a fringe, inconsequential minority? And why would he pinpoint his immersion in “the science, economics and all other aspects of global warming” at 1994 – “a couple of years after my retirement from The Boston Globe in 1992” – after learning about the ‘payments under the table’ bit?

After seeing a dozen+ quite similar “I tolerate the trees” narratives from Gelbspan, this is the first I’ve ever seen from him with that angle about Dr McCarthy* being the solitary appointment he had, and that McCarthy ever said anything so extreme about the potential end of the world. (*That Dr McCarthy)

  • in the above noted 2004 telephone interview, Gelbspan simply said he had appointments – plural – with “several scientists.” Those other scientists grabbed his attention, but with speculation about misrepresentations / false information by skeptic scientists instead.
  • in Gelbspan’s “Boiling Point” book – the one labeling him on the cover and on the inside book jacket sleeve as a Pulitzer winner – he said he kept his appointments with four other scientists.
  • Gelbspan’s June 2000 presentation at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada noted the four appointments and those scientists’ speculation about misrepresentations / false information by skeptic scientists. Not a word about Dr McCarthy, and only “murmurs” about illicit funding of skeptic scientists.
  • in the above noted 2005 Mother Jones interview, Gelbspan just noted that he kept his appointments with several other scientists, but one of those was “a co-chair of the IPCC” who was the only one mentioning the questionable funding of skeptic scientists.
  • in a 2004 Healthy Living interview, it was just the unnamed IPCC scientist and some other scientist. But both were speculating about the funding of skeptic scientists.
  • Columbia Journalism Review: several scheduled appointments; only one speculated about funding.
  • James Hoggan (that James Hoggan) names one scientist, not 2, not 3, not 4: Dr McCarthy. Hoggan ought to know – as heard 8 seconds into this audio interview, Gelbspan helped to co-found Hoggan’s Desmogblog website.

When such a detail as industry-funded liar skeptic scientists making as big of an impression on Gelbspan, one would think he could consistently keep it straight on whether it was 1, 2, 3, or 4 scientists, or half of them or a third of them hitting him with this monumental revelation.

Meanwhile, onward within Gelbspan’s September ‘reporter legacy’ video. Almost totally missing in this latest narrative version – apart from his glancing mention of being friends with a passionate Harvard scientist – is the entire angle of how he was magically prompted to co-author a Washington Post March 1995 article with Harvard epidemiologist Dr Paul Epstein, which Gelbspan claims in other older narratives prompted a backlash of protest letters that specifically led him to read what skeptic climate scientists had to say. I detail myriad faults in those older narratives about the co-authored article situation here and partly here.

Gelbspan simply lurches at the 13:58 point into magically “learning” about an obscure Minnesota Department of Public Utilities (DPU) hearing at which skeptic climate scientists would be appearing. Identical to all other prior narratives, he does not say how he learned about any of the details of the event.

… This was in the spring of ’95. … I decided to go to the hearing just to hear these skeptic scientists. Before the hearing, I had a discussion with the Assistant Attorney General who was going to conduct the hearings and asked “if you would require the skeptics to reveal under oath where their money came from.” And it turns out these climate skeptics were being paid several million dollars from coal and oil companies, and since this was a very obscure hearing and I was the only reporter in the room, that got no news coverage.

Right. Because he was actually a retired reporter at the time and not working in any capacity for any news outlet? And as I also detailed in my May 2014 blog post, not only was Gelbspan unable to keep his story straight on whether the Assistant AG was a man or a woman, the timeline between the start of his ‘foray’ into the climate issue in early March and his arrival at the May 22nd hearing is pretty much impossible to achieve, especially considering how a total outsider to the process would magically be able to have major influence with the head of the hearings. Even if Gelbspan was able to pull off the feat of accomplishing all he claims within his 9 week-3day timeline, and even if he miscommunicated the gender of the Assistant AG, the problem still staring him in the face is elemental: the funding of any given scientist is irrelevant as it pertains to the scientist’s science assessments. They can stand on their own merits or they can’t.

But Gelbspan implies, as do all other accusers, that industry payments to scientists kills their credibility, and that’s all you need to know about them. However, we’re told today that Exxon’s own internal scientists affirmed that catastrophic man-caused global warming results from burning fossil fuels. Using Gelbspan’s logic, though, that means those scientists were fatally biased, thus the collective “Exxon Knew” accusation is out the window.

Then there’s Gelbspan’s bit bout “these climate skeptics were being paid several million dollars from coal and oil companies.” Paid to do what, exactly? From 1995 to today, he’s never said what they were paid to do with any specificity, nor has any other accuser. The implication is that they knowingly put out false climate science assessments, but despite Gelbspan being given the label of climate change expert that he does not deserve, he has no science expertise to determine if their assessments are false or not, and if actual experts on his side are certain they could prove skeptics’ assessments are false, then they would not flee from debate challenges from those skeptics, would they? On top of all that, Gelbspan could not prove they were “paid millions” if his reputation depended on it. When you talk big like that, you put your money where your mouth is.

15:13 point, Gelbspan essentially admits that as the result of the above “no news coverage,” he set out to report the ‘news’ himself at a place that is hardly defined as a news outlet:

… So I wrote a piece exposing the funding of these corrupt scientists and the piece ended up as a cover article in the December issue of Harper’s magazine, and after the article ran, I sat back and said to myself, “if there’s this cover up going on, what are they covering up?

That latter claim is a bit of a problem. As seen at his 2000 U Waterloo presentation, his musing moves back right to the time when he first learned about the “large amounts of undisclosed payments” – at the May 1995 Minnesota hearing. As seen at his 2005 Mother Jones interview, same tale. December 1995 is not “immediate.” So, why change the narrative now to the time after his magazine article was published. Then there is his other core problem: To yell “Corrupt,” you must first prove the scientists are corrupt. He never has.

15:34 point / 16:20 point … and that’s when I began to learn as much as I could about the science and the impacts of climate change … I tried to communicate this though two books, the first one “The Heat is On … got a remarkable bump when then-President Clinton pulled it up at a press conference and told the public he was reading it. The second book, “Boiling Point” … was fortunate enough to be reviewed by Al Gore …

“The Heat is On” being the one with the false Pulitzer winner on the inside book jacket sleeve, where, as I suggested in my April 2016 blog post, if both President Clinton and mainstream media reporters had done minimal examination of that label, it might have led to the total collapse of global warming alarmism. “Boiling Point” being the one where Al Gore’s incorrect labeling of Gelbspan as a Pulitzer winner (Gore has done that more than once) drew enough public ire that the New York Times had to publicly correct the piece.

Gelbspan finishes out the video with a set of ‘science’ assertions that, if faced with a PhD-level scientist or very well-informed expert skeptic speaker, he has no hopes of supporting. His closing remark is particularly troubling, in light of his oft-repeated — and completely true — assertion about “in a democracy we need honest information”:

20:12 point: … working on this topic has left me with both a young man’s sense of wonder and an old man’s despair. As I narrated at the beginning, I was a reporter, and in the face of my sadness over our collective human failure, my only response has been to look reality in the eye and write it down.

Really? Or, has he exemplified the tactic of psychological projection with his numerous regurgitations of industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists “stealing our reality,” and has he – to borrow the words of a famous comic presenter – rejected our reality and substituted his own? One in which according to him there is no debate about settled science, and where guilt-by-association is enough of an excuse for major news outlets to exclude skeptic scientists from debates with those on the IPCC / Al Gore side of the issue?

The reality he presents – one where he has a rough time keeping his details straight – invariably prompts a killer question. We all retell stories of our past. Over time, we might get the exact date wrong or particular details wrong, but we can usually self-correct those, and the story remains consistent. The reason a personal story remains largely consistent is because we experienced it firsthand. When a person tells a story with significant differences from one telling to the next, especially with key details wrong, or the story is missing key explanations for certain events, or has a new unexplained sequence of events, that’s where the killer question arises: Is the reason for these inconsistencies because the person did not actually experience it firsthand? To put it in simple terms, is the story a fabrication?

In the unreal world of a Democrat-led U.S. House, Ross Gelbspan’s “reality” would be accepted without question. But elections matter, and considering how (no offense) he appears to have one foot in the grave now, if he finds his ‘investigative reporter legacy’ under fire, it would be a good idea for him to save it while preventing a total loss of respect of his children and grandchildren by coming clean about why his latest narrative doesn’t line up with his other narratives going all the way back to when he first got into the climate issue, and why his associations with other promulgators of the “industry-paid skeptic climate scientists” accusation look hugely suspect.