Dan Rather, for those who aren’t familiar with him, is a veteran U.S. TV news anchor who had a fairly good career right up to the point where he apparently overlooked the importance of checking the veracity of clearly fabricated documents when he reported how they appeared to undercut the integrity of 2004 U.S. presidential re-election candidate George W. Bush. It’s a Rather Shameful tale of self-inflicted tragedy where he appears to have never accepted the reality of his journalism blunder. Making matters far worse, Dan Rather later essentially said President Bush would be proven guilty when evidence is found to support that. So, either the concept of innocence before being proven guilty is out the window, or the basic tenets of bulletproof journalism is out the window. Neither situation looks good for his legacy.
When I first heard the announcement of the new “Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts Award,” I guessed it was simply Babylon Bee-style headline satire, a dry humor jab at how badly mainstream media reporting has devolved lately. This sort of satire is easy to make up: The Gina McCarthy Prize for Preserving Natural Beauty, the BP Most Effective Construction Cost Savings award, the Mike Bloomberg Savvy Spending Trophy.
No joke, however, about the Dan Rather Medals. The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism and Media has a genuine website for them, and as of this time of blog post publication, the entry window for nominations is still open for submissions. Their goal is to award professional and collegiate journalists who go the extra yard to report an exceptional journalistic story or series despite of facing demonstrable threats and hurdles — exhibiting news and guts.
So, per their requirements, I submitted my nomination for my three blog post series dissection of a BBC Radio 4 podcast report last summer which purported to expose disinformation tactics used by the fossil fuel industry to steer the public into believing man-caused global warming isn’t harmful. I overcame the hurdle of what others said couldn’t be done, namely causing the BBC to issue a partly corrective statement about a false claim within the podcast. In continuing to push my reporting, I still face the possibility of being censored out of existence. Dr Willie Soon could arguably submit his own reporting about that BBC podcast, describing how he exhibited news and guts against the extraordinary condition, a.k.a. the nearly impossible probability, of having his side of the story being fully told without bias in that BBC podcast.
My submission had fully spelled-out weblinks, while I embedded them into the text in the otherwise completely verbatim version below.
What are the odds that my blog posts will even be considered for the Dan Rather Medal, considering the way they expose how the BBC seemingly threw the basic tenets of bulletproof journalism out the window by not checking the veracity of supposedly leaked industry memos presented by a guest who decided to fabricate a new politically divisive, racially-charged element about the memos? Probably next to zero, and even potentially less than zero, if some member of the University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism and Media leaks my non-public information to persecutors who think people like me are equal to monsters who use disinformation to incite insurrections.
My nomination for the Dan Rather Medals for News and Guts Award is my series of three blog reports, where the latest details how I overcame one of the biggest hurdles a news story might face, prompting a news organization as big as the British Broadcasting Service to add a corrective note to one of its own broadcast stories. The ongoing hurdle, relating to reporting on my formal complaint against the BBC (Case # CAS-6241179-K0Y8J5) about specific factual errors within the story, is getting a final result about their reexamination of the ALL the facts surrounding claims presented in that story.
1) October 6, 2020, BBC ( sort of … ) Corrects Radio 4’s “How They Made Us Doubt Everything” Episode 6: ‘Reposition Global Warming as theory, not fact’
2) August 5, 2020 BBC Radio 4 vs Rush Limbaugh, Pt 2: “I don’t remember this stupid ad.”
3) July 31, 2020 BBC Radio 4 vs Rush Limbaugh: “How They Made Us Doubt Everything” Episode 6: ‘Reposition Global Warming as theory, not fact’
In reporting on the BBC’s apparent need to retract their 7/27/20 Radio 4 online podcast / 8/3/20 broadcast episode due to how accusations and assertions in it were apparently based on unsupportable ‘leaked industry documents evidence’ offered by a guest having undisclosed (within that specific Episode 6) conflicts of interest with the podcast, who additionally misstated multiple points about what he was discussing, I face what is arguably suppression of ‘freedom of the press.’
An extraordinary suppression hurdle to overcome concerning my submission for consideration in the Dan Rather Medals and wider consideration of what I narrowly report at my blog, is whether my blog material qualifies as news reporting. As I noted in my 10/28/14 blog post about how journalism is redefined lately to include online sites not otherwise fitting the definition of traditional newspaper / TV news outlets, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer supported that kind of redefinition of who should be protected by the 2013 Free Flow of Information Act when he said, “[T]here are people who do real journalism in different ways than we’re used to. They should not be excluded.”
In attempting to get my reports out on the BBC’s questionable Radio 4 claims about the fossil fuel industry allegedly orchestrating disinformation campaigns, I face possible censorship of my reporting because it hugely undercuts widespread reporting about supposedly sinister industry efforts; I face dismissal of it out-of-hand as being “disinformation” itself by people with pro-environment biases; and I face potential personal threats, since my reporting could be argued to fit what the New York Times insinuated on 1/12/21 as essentially equal to disinformation that is claimed to have directly led to incitement of violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6th.
Traditional reporters throughout history who reported material contradicting what prominent influential politicians and public advocacy groups said have had to overcome the same extraordinary conditions I must overcome when I spell out all the problems in that BBC Radio 4 podcast — which itself is not much different that myriad other stories in the U.S. about alleged fossil fuel industry disinformation campaigns. When I suggest the guest in that BBC podcast and his enviro-activist group associates and specific others, including Al Gore, who all rely on the same ‘leaked memo evidence’ may have committed one of the biggest acts of libel/slander in history against skeptic climate scientists, I may face epic character assassination efforts from them along with reporters sympathetic to them. I already have to a minimal extent; it could exponentially increase if more people see my work. Similar to how journalists saw efforts to shut down their reports by limiting the outlets that carried their stories, I face the possibility that the organization providing me with my blog site platform could be threatened with legal action or fierce opposition-led outcries to terminate that platform, and I also face the possibility that the places were I announce my reports and where others share my reports, Twitter and Facebook, could delete my announcements altogether, while sharing my personal info with other entities expressing outright goals to shut down viewpoints they don’t want the public to see.
To make my case in the above trio of blog posts, I use the very words of Al Gore and specific enviro-activists against them. Ultimately, the biggest extraordinary condition to overcome is to prompt people like those at The University of Texas at Austin’s School of Journalism & Media to deeply consider this final point: how much peril would they face as reporters who dare to question the orthodoxy of the widespread, unquestioned ‘industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists’ accusation?