ABC News’ Bill Blakemore: “The only thing I am an activist for is rigorous journalism

Former ABC News reporter, I should add. But I’ll get to that small problem later. First, in regard to Ross Gelbspan, it appears Blakemore has a backpedal situation that most people would agree a reporter should never be caught doing, then there is a problem with a particular line in Blakemore’s ABC News bio, and finally there is the larger problem of how the global warming issue seems to owe its life to the sheer lack of rigorous journalism about it.

News stories pack a bigger punch when they have a powerhouse speaker to talk about it. Consider how dull the description “global warming book author Ross Gelbspan” sounds, compared to “Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Ross Gelbspan”.

What kills that second description, and likely prompts people to lose focus over what Gelbspan supposedly reports about, is the plain fact that he never won a Pulitzer. So, does that problem explain the following ‘before’ and ‘after’ situations courtesy of Bill Blakemore?

ABC News, July 27, 2006 (full text here):

“This coal industry disinformation campaign is a repeat of a similar campaign launched in the early 1990s by Western Fuels and other coal interests,” said Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and author Ross Gelbspan.

ABC News, December 7, 2011 (full text here):

The greatly respected professional journalist Ross Gelbspan, who directed Pulitzer Prize winning news teams when he was an editor at the Boston Globe…

In 2011, Gelbspan hadn’t been a professionally employed journalist since 1992, and this ‘Pulitzer’ business Blakemore speaks of was a single team of seven reporters who wrote a series on race relations in 1984. This is the same single-team story series Gelbspan describes at his own website in rebuttal to his claim that critics said he was not a “co-recipient of a Pulitzer Prize” … without ever mentioning that the topic of the series was race relations. To his credit, Blakemore toned down the assertion to just one Pulitzer effort in an April 1, 2012 piece … minus any mention of “race relations.”

Were these just a couple of passing references to Gelbspan on Blakemore’s part? Hardly. A simple internet search of their combined names returns numerous Blakemore citations of Gelbspan on ABC News, and a fun pair of mutual admiration pages, one where Blakemore’s lecture page prominently mentions Gelbspan, and another of Gelbspan’s February 28, 2006 Desmogblog post where he literally did not write a word of it but instead copied ‘n pasted it right out of Blakemore’s then-current ABC News blog post.

Now, regarding Blakemore’s apparently still-current ABC News bio page, it makes no mention of him having any climate science expertise whatsoever. But given the sheer amount of consideration he gives to Gelbspan, he’s not much different than Desmogblog’s co-founder James Hoggan, when it comes to making unfounded pronouncements on the certainties of the ‘settled science’ of man-caused global warming and of the corruption of skeptic climate scientists. But wait, there’s more: As described by “Republican War on Science” book author Chris Mooney, Blakemore was a panelist at a 2007 Canadian University / Desmog-hosted discussion which also included Ross Gelbspan (complete with incorrect label) and James Hoggan. (Who does Mooney’s book cite for evidence of industry-corruption of a skeptic climate scientist? Ross Gelbspan)

More potentially troubling is the top-most statement at Blakemore’s ABC News bio:

Bill Blakemore has spearheaded ABC’s coverage of global warming, traveling from the tropics to polar regions to report on the impacts and dangers of climate change, as well as possible solutions for it.

The sentence is phrased in the present perfect tense, easily leading people to believe he is still working for ABC News. But in an overall search of the ABC News site, nothing new is seen from Blakemore after 2012 (with one result being an alternate bio page with the word “spearheads” rather than “has spearheaded”), and his ABC News Twitter account has no entries newer than 2012 in it. A wider search of his activities turns up an April/May 2015 page about a United Nations World Autism Day discussion he moderated which describes him as a “former ABC-news correspondent”. The official UN page for the event leaves out the word “former” (open to speculation whether Blakemore exploited the in-person opportunity to speak with UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon about his views on global warming).

Additional search results confirm Blakemore is no longer at ABC News, including a 10/201/14 Huffington Post article he co-wrote, where his signature line at the end states “Now freelance, he also lectures on the journalistic profession, ‘The Many Psychologies of Global Warming’”.

Another search result of his status – from a radio reporter’s interview of Blakemore stemming from his November 2013 Miami University lecture visit – not only confirms his departure from ABC News, it reveals another problem. At the 45 second point of the interview, Blakemore says in regard to the interviewer’s statement about “an attempt by some companies to keep the public uninformed” on the certainty of man-caused global warming,

It’s been well documented that there is a well-funded disinformation intimidation campaign.

Go back to Blakemore’s June 26, 2006 ABC News report, and we see pretty much the same wording, but with four important words added:

One small group of special interest businesses leaders — those of some fossil fuel companies — have been well documented by journalist Ross Gelbspan and others…

I could devote another 4-500 words on the fault with Blakemore’s “and others” assertion and who he cites, but suffice it to say, his assertion is a literally unsupportable talking point.

One more confirmation of his status yielded this intriguing account of Blakemore’s Miami U “The Many Psychologies of Global Warming” lecture, where he was quoted as follows regarding the global warming issue,

The only thing I am an activist for is rigorous journalism and improving the quality of the conversation.

My generation has left you young students with an ungodly mess, and we are sorry. I want to pass along as much [information] as I can.

Contrast that with statements from his ABC News report two years earlier, in a paragraph immediately before speaking about Ross Gelbspan directing “Pulitzer Prize winning news teams”:

A tiny handful of people who have for several years been getting publicity for themselves and their sponsors by claiming to debunk the gravity of the global warming crisis described by the world’s climate scientists showed up at this convention center and held a press conference.

Few attended – perhaps 20. This reporter knows of no serious professional journalists who take the claims of these people seriously or waste time with them anymore.

We rarely even name them or their groups.

Then have another look at the screencapture I had a few paragraphs up and note how, after citing Gelbspan, Blakemore claims in regard the existence of credible scientists who question the notion of catastrophic man-caused global warming, “no open and thorough journalism this reporter knows of can find any such thing.”

If I may politely suggest it, Blakemore apparently made no effort to find such skeptics, quite possibly as the result of not applying the rigorous journalism standard he seemingly advocates toward his one-and-only source for the ‘industry-corrupted skeptics’ accusation, a man who never won a Pulitzer, who never provided anyone with evidence proving skeptic climate scientists are caught in a pay-for-performance arrangement with industry people to lie about global warming, and a man who never detailed what ‘investigative efforts’ were involved in his so-called exposé of this corruption.

Perhaps the most troubling statement at Blakemore’s ABC News bio is this one about how he…

…writes and lectures on the nature of professional journalism and how it differs from propaganda.

Arguably, propaganda involves the art of having total control over what information the public sees. Since Blakemore has won many journalism awards, is his egregious failure to report the skeptic half of the global warming issue and his failure to apparently undertake any kind of due diligence on the veracity of anything Ross Gelbspan says an indication of spectacular journalistic ineptitude on his part .… or of masterful control of information Blakemore allows the public to see? If the latter is true, the bigger question is whether similar masterful control has dictated the content of what was and what still is reported about global warming at news outlets besides ABC News.