I am truly sad abut the death of the namesake for my GelbspanFiles blog, and I must first explain why, when some – critics especially – might guess I’d be dancing on his grave. That’s not the way I view life. I don’t just simply want to have a nice day myself, I want everyone to have a nice day, to be happy, and to do good not only for personal betterment but also for the benefit of everyone. If we make very unwise decisions which harm or mislead others, we all should be held accountable, myself included, and be allowed opportunities to atone for our mistakes. We all learn from these teachable moments and become better when forgiveness is sincerely asked. It makes us all better as a result.
Death is final. When ordinary people lived a life filled with dishonest choices apparently for no other reason than personal gain and did nothing to atone for this, they’re now a permanent embarrassment to family members, “someone never to be named” among former associates and former admirers. If they were duped into making supremely unwise choices, well, it’s sad that they were such a dunce. If they deliberately chose to be dishonest, their legacy is far worse. When this involves prominent public figures, their legacies become little more than teachable lessons: “you don’t want the public to learn about you this way.”
… loving husband, father, truth-teller, editor of Pulitzer prize-winning journalism … As a Special Projects editor at the Boston Globe, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African Americans in Boston, which won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
Technically, it’s much less glorious than that. He perhaps suggested to his bosses that a story on unfair hiring practices would be good, he may have found Boston business addresses for the seven actual Pulitzer winning reporters to investigate, and he quite likely made their writing less lousily worded. But he was forced to come up with the “conceived, directed and edited” juvenile backpedal phrasing after being confronted in the summer of 1997 by the climate scientist Dr S Fred Singer (newsletter item #2 – broken link there archived here) concerning Gelbspan’s corruption accusations against Dr Singer combined with his claims of winning the Pulitzer outright. Notice in that highlighted screencapture from this page that Dr Singer brings up Gelbspan’s 1991 book “Break-ins, Death Threats, and the FBI” – which, as I detailed in my June 19, 2013 blog post, also has the false claim about being a Pulitzer winner.
No need to trust me or Dr Singer on this: check directly at the Pulitzer organization. Ross Gelbspan never won a Pulitzer. Period.
Want to see how sadly prevalent his resumé fraud is to this day? From the Covering Climate Now” website (that CCNow) we have this “In Appreciation” item rather tactlessly tacked onto their self-promotion page about the elections reporting:
Climate journalism has lost a giant. Ross Gelbspan, a Pulitzer Prize–winning reporter …died on January 27.
This specific ‘Pulitzer’ situation is not simply sad. The perpetuation of it today is embarrassingly sad. There’s no graceful exit for Gelbspan’s legacy now, out of the deep hole he dug for himself long ago. It wasn’t a one-off event back then, where the excuse might be that it was the book publishers’ faults or the press release writers’ faults, it happened so extensively, devoid of any any forceful efforts from him to stop it, that even the supposedly intelligent “ChatGPT” system dutifully regurgitated that false accolade just a bit over a week ago for me with no special prompting on my part. When any person commits an act of resumé fraud straying into stolen valor territory, the label of ‘truth-teller,’ by default, cannot be applied to the person. Instead, everything following that falsehood must be questioned.
Next, I’m sad that mourners Rolling Stone ‘journalist’ writer Jeff Goodell and Energy and Policy Institute ‘expert’ David Pomerantz claim Gelbspan ‘opened their eyes’ and ‘made their life different.’ As I’ve pointed out similarly with so many others, we are talking about that Goodell and that Pomerantz, who’s EPI group is absolutely enslaved to Gelbspan for its existence … albeit one step separated via ex-Ozone Action / Greenpeacer Roland C “Kert” Davies. I highlighted the word “Greenpeace” in Pomerantz’s bio screencapture for a reason: his tenure there puts him right in the middle of the Passacantando – Davies era there. That’s the duo who source back to the old Ozone Action Group when that group and Ross Gelbspan “obtained” the worthless “reposition global warming memos (hold those thoughts about Davies, though, he’ll come up again in this obituary situation).
It’s sad to think how much time and resources Goodell and Pomerantz wasted for both pursuing something that was false out of the gate, and it is sad to comprehend the enormity of how both missed the opportunity to exercise the most basic of journalist/investigator skills to see whether the claims Gelbspan made had any merit, and it is sadder that both – and so many others in the same situation – failed to castigate Gelbspan for pushing myriad falsehoods. It’s sad to think about the plausibility – however remote – that Masters / PhD degrees could be revoked because they placed their core reliance for assertions about industry corruption on Gelbspan. Imagine the embarrassment those degree holders would be exposed to for not undertaking the most elemental due diligence about the central premise of such thesis papers. It’s sad that supposedly peer-reviewed papers in science journals could potentially be removed for that same reason.
It’s sad that his family seemingly kept the news out of public view for nearly a week, and even then the news was seemingly first widely seen in the Feb 2 Legacy website obituary, with the next major appearance being at the Feb 4 Desmogblog remembrance page. He was a towering figure in the environmentalist community, more worthy of same-day publicity than news about people of far less significance, yet no word is readily found anywhere in the pages of the mainstream media news outlets. At his own Facebook page as Feb 7th, among his 760+ so-called Friends, only 26 offered condolences, and among those, the only one with any name significance is the Associated Press’ Seth Borenstein. That Borenstein. Who’s the most prominent person on Twitter to offer condolences so far? Al Gore’s former longtime spokesperson, Kalee “Pulitzer winner” Kreider. She has considerably more Twitter “pull” than I do, that’s for certain. But even with her 25,000 Tweet Impressions, there’s barely more than a fifteen Twitter accounts acknowledging his departure as of this blog post date.
“Thanks a lot, friends.” Ross-who? That’s really sad.
Sad as well, for not giving deserving credit to Ross Gelbspan, is the above-noted Desmogblog site’s Remembrance page for him. The author Brendan DeMelle uses the word “inspire” four times to describe what prompted the start of Desmogblog including DeMelle saying he was personally pleased to discover Gelbspan ‘inspired’ its creation. Problem is …. Gelbspan did not ‘inspire’ its creation, he was its long-unnamed co-founder. He actually declared at the 8 second point of this audio interview he’d founded it.” He wasn’t drawn to something that already existed, he set it up, and he didn’t merely ‘contribute’ writings to it, he was its star blogger from from January 2006 to November 2010. As I detailed in my August 26, 2022 blog post, that inconvenient truth was subsequently buried by the folks at Desmogblog: Ross-who?
It is sad that DeMelle was either deceived about Gelbspan’s Desmogblog co-founder role or sad that he’s deceiving his readers about it now. It’s tragic that Desmogblog was ever formed at all, stemming from an irrational emotionally-driven reaction to Gelbspan’s disinformation by its other co-founder. Sad that Gelbspan was not stopped in his tracks back in 1997 after President Bill Clinton read his book. We might not even be talking about the climate issue today if he had. And that’s really a sad thing to think about.
Meanwhile, remember what I said about Kert Davies up above? Have a look at what he said at DeMelle’s Desmogblog Remembrance page:
In the 1990s, Ross was our ‘Yoda’, guiding a new generation of investigators …
Yoda. That isn’t sad, it’s bad; a potentially self-incriminating admission worthy of much deeper examination by people having subpoena power. Who was the “our” Davies was referring to? The only ‘investigators’ at that time ‘exposing / dissembling the climate denial machine’ was the non-journalist crew at Ozone Action, circa mid- / late-1995 to 2000, before that group merged into Greenpeace USA. I have yet to find a single ‘investigator’ who does not ultimately source – directly or through a convoluted citation cascade – their post-1994 ‘industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists’ accusation from any other place. And that arguably includes ….. Ross Gelbspan.
What he takes to the grave are many unanswered questions. The most glaring of all is, “You and Ozone Action obtained those “reposition global warming” memos …. from whom, exactly?” Those memos – for the umpteenth time – are worthless. The critical question is who provided them and why Gelbspan and associates never apparently checked to see if they were actually damaging or not.
That’s where I’m the saddest; opportunities now forever lost for Gelbspan to either face courtroom / congressional investigators under oath, or face reporters’ cameras to defend his legacy — or to turn state’s evidence and come clean on it all, while naming others who may have led him onto his unwise second career path. In doing that, even right near the end of his life, he could have become a hero reporter actually doing Pulitzer-level work, bravely exposing where the real disinformation and corruption is in the climate issue in so much of a devastating way that it could send the entire issue into a tailspin, imperiling the living legacies of several people far more famous than he was.
With all my heart, I wanted him to look in the mirror and see a better self. He could have been viewed as a good man after all. Now it is too late. The “industry-corrupted skeptic climate scientists” accusation will sink – it is a mathematical certainty – his legacy inevitably will sink as well.
Who knows what fate awaits any of us tomorrow? But if tomorrow ends up being our last day, will we see a person in the mirror taking secrets to the grave from a life lived for little more than personal gain, built on deceit and disinformation, or will we reflect on how we did all we could to make a better place for everyone?