I Stand More Informed, Part 2 — and it doesn’t help Ross Gelbspan’s climate issue legacy at all

I’ve implied it on several occasions relating to several people; it bears repeating in this situation — when a person tells the tale of a particular significantly noteworthy personal history event which is consistent in every retelling, notwithstanding minor errors about minor details, it’s a good indicator the event actually happened. When significant details are noticeably inconsistent from one telling to the next, we’re left to wonder if the event never actually happened at all the way the person describes it. Was the narrative instead just a script handed to the person to read, where he or she is ineptly acting out the tale?

My Part 1 post was a look into Ross Gelbspan’s earliest mentions of ye oldereposition global warming” memos – the memos that, from late 1995 to just over a week ago (stay tuned here for more about that latest blunder) – are the literal best that enviro-activists have in their arsenal to accuse skeptic climate scientists of being paid fossil fuel industry money to spread ‘disinformation which causes the public to doubt the certainty of catastrophic man-caused global warming.’ No. Joke.

I’ve already written how Gelbspan is seemingly unable to keep his narratives straight about his discovery odyssey of ‘industry-paid skeptic climate scientists.’ What he additionally said in the November 1995 C-SPAN interview I covered in Part 1 didn’t clarify any of the problems in his subsequent retellings of his discovery story. It added one more major angle of inconsistency to them all.

Short as that C-SPAN interview was, 3 minutes 45 seconds, Gelbspan was not able to keep his mouth shut about a particular detail which he never repeated again among his myriad subsequent retellings, and he also left out a major detail that he did repeat many times later.

Let’s begin where I ended my transcription in Part 1, where C-SPAN’s host Susan Swain had just previously asked Gelbspan the softball question of what his “for instance” example was of evidence proving skeptic climate scientists were paid industry money to lie. Swain didn’t question a word about his “reposition global warming” memo phrases claims, she only referred to his bio description at the bottom of the article’s first page, oblivious to how its note about his major journalism award was outright disinformation.

Pull the time slider here to the 2:50:54 point:

Swain: Your description of yourself, you’ve been reporting on these kinds of issues for a number of newspapers, including Philadelphia, for the past number of years, tell me about how this article came to be in Harper’s?

“… reporting.” Present tense. That was inaccurate on two fronts – arguably straying into disinformation territory – whether deliberate or from ignorance. Ross Gelbspan had not been reporting in any employed capacity on the climate issue since he was sent into early retirement from the Boston Globe nearly 3½ years earlier (which in his narratives qualifies as “a couple of years“). His prior actual reporting in his last major published article on the issue in 1992 brought up Dr Robert Balling’s name – the scientist he accused of tainted money funding in this C-SPAN interview – in a sidebar where he never mentioning a thing about funding, but instead hinted at political views tainting another top skeptic climate scientist.

Gelbspan, responding to Swain’s question: This article came to be because I had done an earlier article this spring that was in the Outlook section of the Washington Post which related to the emergence of a lot of diseases around the world from changes in the climate, and then I really began to look into why the public confusion existed when in fact the consensus among the top scientists of the world was becoming so very clear. And as I looked into it, submitted a bunch of Freedom of Information Act requests to the Internal Revenue Service, learned about the extraordinary funding of a number of these skeptical scientists. Dr Balling for example, …

“… I had done an earlier article this spring…” Singular. An understandable declaration if he was an employed reporter at the time.  Reporters report news.  But he was not a reporter in any true sense of the working definition right then, and more important about the article he mentions, his subsequent numerous retellings about it – indirectly or directly – said he co-authored the article. His co-author (a.k.a. collaborator), Harvard epidemiologist Dr Paul Epstein, was not a reporter, period (and apparently not a particularly adept writer). Imagine for comparison how a working reporter might write an article about the emergence of racist rhetoric from Republicans. Then imagine that same reporter receiving second-billing credit for co-authoring the very same article with President Obama.

See how the full context of the situation renders Gelbspan’s portrayal to C-SPAN interviewer Swain only adds an one more dicey angle into his Epstein problem?

Meanwhile, Gelbspan’s problems within the C-SPAN interview don’t stop there. Compare what he said in the interview, continuing immediately where I left off above …

….  a number of these skeptical scientists. Dr Balling for example, has gotten $300,000 over the last five years from Kuwait, from British and German coal interests, from a mining company in the West, Cyprus Minerals, that funds the anti-environmental Wise Use movement 

… to the word-for-word text out of the very Harper’s magazine, just days-old in its publication (apologies for the garish Sierra Club reproduction color in the full context page here), which is the topic of the interview:

…. Over the last six years, either alone or with colleagues, Balling has received more than $200,000 from coal and oil interests in Great Britain, Germany, and elsewhere. Balling (along with Sherwood Idso) has also taken money from Cyprus Minerals, a mining company that has been a major funder of People for the West—a militantly anti-environmental “Wise Use” group.

In just that short span of time – mere days? – between the article’s publication and the C-SPAN interview, Gelbspan would have us all believe that Dr Balling had gotten an extra hundred thousand dollars of funding during a one-year-shorter funding span from a major source he left out of his article. Regarding his odd “a mining company in the West, Cyprus Minerals” vs “Cyprus Minerals, a mining company that has been a major funder of People for the West” differences — perhaps Gelbspan is apparently not a particularly adept script reader. Where else, however, has his revelation in the interview about the Kuwait government funding been seen? Oh, yeah … the spring 1996 page from the Ozone Action group’s “Ties that Blind 1” report. It’s quite plausible that Gelbspan didn’t make a dumb reading mistake about the $200,000 figure from his Harper’s article; he very likely read the $300,000 figure from Ozone Action’s report …. 6 months before Ozone Action was ready to publish it. A group, by the way, which he has never otherwise disclosed having any association with beyond the smallest possible way.

Then there is the one additional bit in this interview that Gelbspan never mentioned – that I’ve ever found, anyway – among all his inconsistent, and terribly vague retellings of how he came to ‘discover’ that skeptic climate scientists were ‘secretly being paid under the table.’ To recap those subsequent others:

• he learned about the specific funding after – not before – an assistant attorney general prompted skeptic climate scientists to disclose their funding at a May 1995 Minnesota public utilities hearing. Again, after, not before.
• he was just fortunate to learn about the funding, end of story.
• he was the only reporter … in 1995 … in the hearing room to hear the forced testimony.
• he somehow learned in advance that the skeptics would be forced to reveal their funding.
• he had a discussion with attorney general handling the hearing, which prompted the man to compel the scientists to disclose their funding
• he spoke to the attorney general handling the hearing, and asked her to compel the scientists to disclose their funding.

Meaning — perhaps at some break within the hearing day — he somehow caught the attention of the woman and offered the suggestion.

• the assistant attorney general handling the hearing contacted Gelbspan in advance about the skeptics who would be flying in which prompted him to ask her to compel them to reveal their funding.

Long-time readers will remember that the late Dr Patrick Michaels told me he was approached by Ross Gelbspan himself at that Minnesota hearing, who asked him for his resumé – in which Dr Michaels had fully disclosed his funding. Quoting Dr Michaels, Gelbspan’s glee over getting that paper copy was ….. extremely memorable.

Here’s where the biggest problem comes in out of that November 1995 C-SPAN interview. Repeating from my transcription above, but with emphasis:

… And as I looked into it, submitted a bunch of Freedom of Information Act requests to the Internal Revenue Service, learned about the extraordinary funding of a number of these skeptical scientists. Dr Balling for example …

An elemental question arises out of that: why would he operate under some kind of imperative to embark on that path in the first place? Is it possible he is representative of, and/or a role model for, the kind of people who have no science expertise but feel they must find a way to distract the public away from taking skeptic scientists’ assessments seriously as they attempt to keep their own version of the ‘science’ afloat?

In February 1994, a year and almost nine months before Gelbspan’s C-SPAN interview, Al Gore tried the tactic of prompting a genuine working reporter, ABC News Nightline’s Ted Koppel, to utilize this character assassination distraction tactic against a particular skeptic climate scientist who appeared to torpedo Gore’s notions about global warming. It failed miserably. Koppel read the riot act to Gore over that stunt:

The measure of good science is neither the politics of the scientist nor the people with whom the scientist associates. It is the immersion of hypotheses into the acid of truth. That’s the hard way to do it, but it’s the only way that works.

Arguably the measure of good, solid revelations about alleged corrupt behavior is their immersion into the acid of truth to see if they hold up or totally dissolve, no matter which parts of them, and wherever they arise, are immersed into that acid.

It’s up to investigators with far more influence and authority than me to get to the bottom of this.