The biggest question is what the messages amount to — an embarrassing revelation that scientists can be petty and defensive and even cheat around the edges, or a major scandal that undercuts the scientific premise for global warming. The former is a story. The latter is a huge story. And the answer is tied up in complex science that is difficult even for experts to understand, and in politics in which passionate sides have been taken, sometimes regardless of the facts....They just interview scientists and don't actually try to understand the science? Even when there is evidence of deceit, they don't pry themselves away from their dependence on interviews with scientists? Drastic, mindboggingly expensive policy changes are proposed based on this science, making this potentially the biggest fraud in history. Why isn't the NYT on fire trying to figure everything out and helping us readers see into the controversy? The best we can do is to give our readers a sense of what the prevailing scientific view is... Really? That's the best you can do? Just a "sense" of what "prevails" among scientists? Then the best you can do is to be part of the very problem you ought to be studying: The scientists' efforts to create an impression of consensus.
[Erica Goode, the NYT environment editor said]: “We here at The Times are not scientists. We don’t collect the data or analyze it, and so the best we can do is to give our readers a sense of what the prevailing scientific view is, based on interviews with scientists” and the expertise of reporters like [Andrew] Revkin.
December 6, 2009
Clark Hoyt, the NYT "public" editor, thinks the NYT has handled the Climategate story "appropriately."
I understand why the Times preferred to link to the database on somebody else's site instead of hosting it: They're afraid of being sued for copyright infringement (though I think if it were anti-war material they'd take the risk and argue fair use). But I can't accept the core of Hoyt's defense of his employer: