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Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch

Mark Kleiman writes to the Washington Post ombudsman:

The Reality-Based Community: Letter to the Washington Post:

Dear Mr. Alexander:

Your response to queries about George Will's misrepresentations both of scientific fact and of how those facts have been reported by scientists, published on the Web, has left me, and many other long-time admirers of the Post, dumbfounded and dismayed.

Will was, simply, wrong, and dishonestly so. The source he cited reported that total ocean ice has remained more or less stable, but that Northern Hemisphere ice, predicted by global-warming models to shrink, has done so, while Southern Hemisphere ice, about which the models make ambiguous predictions, has grown. Thus Will's claim that the sea-ice figures support his what-me-worry optimism was grossly, obviously, and inexcusably wrong.

Fine. That's what George Will does for a living: offer sermons to comfort the comfortable. And there's at least a reasonable case for the Post printing his nonsense as the reflection of an important point of view.

But when you, on behalf of what used to be a respected newspaper, endorse his dishonesty, there's something seriously, seriously wrong. There are still honest and competent reporters writing for the Post, but if any article in the paper is to be believed it will now have to be on the basis of the reporter's known integrity and skill, not on the fact of its publication in a newspaper that not only publishes palpable falsehood but then justifies doing so.

I doubt that Katherine Graham would have approved.

Yours,

Mark Kleiman
Professor of Public Policy
UCLA

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