New York Times readers are deserting in droves in protest that its new columnist, Bret Stephens, thinks incorrect thoughts about man-made global warming.
In his first column Stephens committed the cardinal sin of suggesting that maybe climate change isn’t quite the major existential threat that liberals have cracked up to be; and that maybe the environmentalists’ rabid zealotry is doing their cause more harm than good.
Claiming total certainty about the science traduces the spirit of science and creates openings for doubt whenever a climate claim proves wrong. Demanding abrupt and expensive changes in public policy raises fair questions about ideological intentions. Censoriously asserting one’s moral superiority and treating skeptics as imbeciles and deplorables wins few converts.
Mighty has been the progressives’ wrath.
According to Soros attack dog Joe Romm, it could scarcely have been worse if the New York Times had given the column to the former Imperial Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, David Duke.
According to the Guardian‘s Dana Nucitelli, the most charitable thing you could say about Stephens’s piece is that it’s “ignorant and wrong.”
Professor Ken Caldeira, of the Carnegie Institute for Science, has publicly cancelled his NYT subscription.
So too has German climate professor Stefan Rahmsdorf, who wrote to complain:
My heroes are Copernicus, Galilei and Kepler, who sought the scientific truth based on observational evidence and defended it against the powerful authority of the church in Rome, at great personal cost.
Had the New York Times existed then – would you have seen it as part of your mission to insult and denigrate these scientists, as Stephens has done with climate scientists?
Twitter has been outraged:
A New Yorker fact checker who understands what journalism is supposed to do pic.twitter.com/ZEIglfxd5x
— David Klion (@DavidKlion) April 29, 2017
Meanwhile, a petition demanding that the New York Times “rescind” its job offer to Bret Stephens has attracted more than 28,000 signatures.
Truly you’d need a heart of stone not to laugh at the cruel irony of it all.
One of the reasons Stephens left his old home the Wall Street Journal to join David Brooks in the special padded cell the NYT retains for its house “conservatives” was to escape all the hate he was getting for his anti-Trump articles. Surely, he no doubt imagined, his gentle brand of centrist squishery – “the nambiest and the pambiest” as Dinesh D’Souza once referred to it – would find a more welcoming home among the impeccably reasonable, caring and sensitive liberal readership for which Pravda is famed.
It didn’t take long for Stephens to be disabused of this notion:
After 20 months of being harangued by bullying Trump supporters, I’m reminded that the nasty left is no different. Perhaps worse. https://t.co/uQ2L5lox6e
— Bret Stephens (@BretStephensNYT) April 28, 2017
What, though, had Stephens actually said wrong to deserve all this hate? (Read the comment thread below his tweet. The Times’s Red Guard shows no mercy).
In short: nothing.
Such facts as there were in his comment piece – it was opinion, not a science report – were pretty unimpeachable, not to say uncontroversial. He quoted the IPCC – generally used by liberals as the gold standard of climate science.
He quoted another (more acceptably green/left-wing) New York Times columnist Andrew Revkin:
“I saw a widening gap between what scientists had been learning about global warming and what advocates were claiming as they pushed ever harder to pass climate legislation.”
But there was really nothing in the piece that was shockingly contentious or factually dubious.
Why then this brutal monstering?
Because climate change is a religion where heretics must burn.
At least that’s how progressives think – and it’s the progressives who still dictate the terms of the debate: they’ve hijacked the seats of learning, the newspapers, the TV, the schools, the political arena, the corporations, Wall Street…
Any form of dissent from the Green Religion, however trivial, has to be punished with fire and brimstone as a dread warning to anyone else tempted to diverge from the True Path.
This is not the first time this has happened.
Stephens’s experiences are strikingly similar to that of another very moderate skeptic, Roger Pielke Jr, who was recruited as a columnist for Nate Silver’s website 538 but was then ditched when readers objected to his non-alarmist views and his unhelpful references to data, truth and real-world evidence.
Facts are very important to progressive journalists and readers. But only when they are the right sort of facts. Otherwise they’re WrongThink.