New York Times 2/16/24: ‘Ross Gelbspan, Who Exposed Roots of Climate Change Deniers, Dies at 84’

The NYT obituary for Ross Gelbspan is here here (full text archive link here in case the main article ends up behind partial preview login wall). The Washington Post obituary is here: “Ross Gelbspan, author who probed roots of climate change denial, dies at 84.” (also archived here). If you want a window into the world of how mainstream media news in the United States now operates, look no further than these obituaries – on what they told and what they omitted.

The NYT used to be called “the newspaper of record,” implying it was the source of impeccable reporting. WashPo’s post-Trump election slogan has been “Democracy Dies in Darkness,” which – according to them, means the newspaper “conveys news and information with unparalleled analysis and insight.” For those who may forget, the old Soviet Union’s communist party newspaper of propaganda record was named “Pravda,” the Russian name translating to the word “truth”… which Soviet citizens knew the newspaper containing anything but the truth.

‘Thoughtful’ of the NYT and WashPo to finally publish these almost three weeks after the man died. I reported the news in my blog on Feb 10th, three days after I first learned about his January 27 death via his Facebook page. As I noted within my blog post, it struck me as odd that no major news outlet reported about this event. Prior to the NYT piece, the most prominent person to bring up this news was environmentalist Bill McKibben in his Feb 13 Substack article writeup about a documentary movie … in which he mentioned Ross Gelbspan almost as an afterthought, getting the name of Gelbspan’s 1997 book totally wrong. Want to see how sad and embarrassing the perpetuation of Gelbspan’s long-ago “Pulitzer Prize” stolen valor resumé fraud is, which I noted in my prior blog post? Look no further than NPR radio host Steve Curwood repeating it in his Feb 16 show. The man never won that prize.

Now, piling onto the American Pravda problem, let’s examine what’s in these NYT / WashPo obituaries, via screencapture links of their relevant passages:

NYT / WashPo: ‘investigative journalist / author, exposer / prober / money follower of the disinformation & doubt pushing / science consensus denying fossil fuel industry.’

No, no, no. Give the WashPo some credit for placing a little more emphasis on Ross Gelbspan being an “author” doing whatever ‘exposing’ he did about the fossil fuel industry. No evidence exists anywhere that can be readily found that he was a working ‘investigative journalist’ when he began his ‘discovery odyssey’ into the industry-paid skeptic scientist ‘shills.’

NYT / WashPo: “I tolerate the trees,” he said on YouTube last year … “I learned the coal industry was paying a handful of scientists under the table to say nothing was happening to the climate.”

Gelbspan didn’t just say that bit about tolerating trees and undertable payments last year, he said it so many times it’s difficult to count them all, dating back to at least September 2004 when he began using it as an ad nauseam-repeated talking point in his promotional tour for his “Boiling Point” book. In my Nov 30, 2023 blog post concerning his YouTube video last year, I covered how much of a foolhardy thing that was to bring up the ‘trees-to-illicit-payments’ talking point again, and I detailed how demonstratively false his accusation was. His accusation arguably strayed into epic libel libel/slander territory. Quoting one of the last objective reporters to report on the issue, ABC News Nightline anchor Ted Koppel, it is irrelevant who the scientists associate with if their science assessments are not debunked at the science level. Ross Gelbspan, despite labels to the contrary, had zero expertise to debate those scientists on the science.

WashPo: “Gelbspan cited a 1991 memo …” /  NYT: “… dug up a 1991 memo … to ‘reposition global warming as theory rather than fact.'”

Credit the WashPo for minimally stating a true fact there. Fault the NYT for not only making a statement of outright disinformation there, the obituary writer managed to also insult his own newspaper — the earliest I can find of Gelbspan directly quoting those rejected, never-implemented memos was mid-November 1995. The NYT’s own Matt Wald directly quoted them nearly 4½ years before Gelbspan, saying they were leaked to his newspaper by the Sierra Club. Fault the WashPo for not citing the NYT’s Matt Wald about the memos. There is no way Gelbspan could have “dug up” those memos unless he is somehow an uncredited operative within the Sierra Club – which, as I detailed a decade ago, claims no role in the matter of these memos.

NYT / WashPo: ‘President Bill Clinton reads Gelbspan’s 1997 The Heat is On book’

And as I detailed in my August 26, 2016 blog post, both Clinton and the mainstream media missed an opportunity to torpedo Gelbspan’s new second career right at that point, to so much of a devastating effect that we might not even be discussing the climate issue today at all. The collective suspiciously simultaneous reportage about Clinton’s vacation reading looked like a staged political agenda stunt.

NYT: “In “The Heat Is On” (1997) …”

Bill Clinton could not have held up the specific 1998 paperback version the NYT shows during his August 1997 vacation. The NYT’s label of “1997” does not apply to that 1998 paperback. In my decade+ exploration into narratives concerning Gelbspan, I’ve often seen people referring to Gelbspan’s ’97 hardcover while showing / linking to his ’98 paperback. The obituary writer here might just be inept, but what’s potentially one reason why others might do that? I covered it back in 2013: Gelbspan’s name switch on page 34 between the two versions where he offered zero explanations for it or any apology to the person – Dr S Fred Singer –  whose name he buried out of sight from his paperback. Attempts at information burial that big usually gets a person banished from the publishing industry afterward.

 • NYT / WashPo: “manufactured denial” / ‘false media balance’

This talking point is one any journalist can torpedo on their own by undertaking one simple challenge: at any point within the time frame from 1988 to today, name the instances where any skeptic climate scientist was given irrefutable fair news media balance. They won’t find any. At the height of Gelbspan’s fame with that quip about journalistic laziness of giving ‘too much fair media balance’ to skeptic climate scientists 2004-2008, I was becoming more irritated that news broadcasters and magazine publishers / newspaper editors were doing the exact opposite, and I vented about it in my first-ever letter to the PBS Ombudsman. When the Ombudsman responded with the words “false equivalence,” it struck a particular nerve because (after fully comprehending who Ross Gelbspan was mere weeks earlier and doing the best due diligence I could to find out more about him) I ran into so many repetitions of the ‘unfair media balance’ talking point – including Gelbspan’s – that I wrote a piece for AmericanThinker on that exact problem: “The lack of climate skeptics on PBS’s ‘Newshour’.” I expanded on the origins of that ‘unfair media balance’ talking point in my June 2014 blog post.

One more thing here – skeptic climate scientists did not ‘manufacture denial;’ it existed right from the start of the Al Gore ‘global warming era.’

NYT: “In ‘Boiling Point’ (2004), Mr. Gelbspan was tough on reporters …

That’s the 2005 paperback cover. The obituary writer here might just be inept, but what’s potentially one reason why others might do that? If the NYT dared to show the actual 2004 hardcover, it would be every bit as acutely awkward as it would be on explaining what’s seen on the inner sleeve of his 1997 hardcover.

Which brings us to one of the bigger omissions in both of these obituaries ….

NYT / WashPo: “… As special projects editor, he oversaw a series” / “series won a Pulitzer…”

Credit WashPo for not exasperating this Pulitzer problem. Fault the NYT – fatally – for doing so, with the extra bit there of “The Globe named Mr. Gelbspan a ‘co-recipient’ of the prize for conceiving and editing the series.” Think about it – the Globe has no more right to name anyone as a co-winner than anybody at Paramount Pictures / 20th Century Fox claiming Leo DiCaprio should be declared a co-winner of an Academy award for his contribution to the Titanic movie (he wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar). The AMPAS exclusively awards its Academy Awards and the Pulitzer organization exclusively names its award recipients. Gelbspan was neither a co-winner, nor was he an outright winner … but as I detailed in 2013, he said he was and didn’t stop others from saying he was. This false claim is one of the biggest breaches of ethics a journalist can make. And it is arguably monstrous of both the NYT and WashPo not to mention a word about this.

Notice also the pattern happening here? Take those two passages and include the bits about Gelbspan’s 1991 book (where the back cover labeled him as a Pulitzer winner) and do a more thorough comparison. This all begins to look less like two writers at major competing newspapers wrote independent pieces, and more like they dutifully regurgitated what was provided to them – albeit with some re-arranging – in a template they needed to follow.

NYT / WashPo: “… Gelbspan read the work of some climate skeptics and, for a time, became convinced that there was no crisis” / “… he was misled about climate change…”

As I detailed in several of my blog posts about his faulty timeline for that situation, it is very unlikely that it occurred at all the way he describes. Worse for the NYT, the situation involving climate skeptics who allegedly ‘convinced him there was no crisis’ did not happen early in his coverage of global warming – meaning as a reporter – the situation was in 1995, three years after he had retired as a reporter. Regarding WashPo’s bit about him being becoming alarmed about the climate crisis and wanting to explore it in a book project, only to be convinced by skeptic climate scientists there wasn’t a crisis … that simply doesn’t pass the smell test. Gelbspan’s presentation in 2000 (with its bit about trees) had that same tale (as did a 2001 Sierra Club interview).

He said the Earth was racing to a climate precipice in 1992 in his last article at the Boston Globe and specifically named skeptic scientists who were ‘downplaying’ this horrible pending calamity. But in 1995, became aware of this enormity seemingly for the first time ever, and then skeptic scientists he’d seemingly knew nothing about convinced him otherwise.

He can’t have it both ways. When reporters do try to pull that stunt, they are no longer reporters, they are propagandists hoping nobody notices their switch in narratives.

You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to find these fatal problems with Ross Gelbspan’s legacy. Since I’ve never taken a single class in journalism, it’s clear that a person does not have to be a journalism to find them either. The plain fact that reporters at major so-called news outlets over the span of two dozen+ years did not rise to the core tenets of journalism and expose all these faults is a clear indication that there is something massively wrong with the bulk of the journalism profession.

Gelbspan’s work, and the sycophant media’s unquestioning acceptance of it is symbolic of American Pravda. It simply boils down to propaganda disinformation – and ultimately – control. You gain complete control when you can control the information the public is allowed to hear.