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Sharon Begley introduced her Newsweek article Newspapers Retract ‘Climategate’ Claims, but Damage Still Done with:

‘A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said (or ’before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on,’ in Winston Churchill’s version), and nowhere has that been more true than in “climategate.”‘

Yes, reaction to the “climategate” scandal and resulting climate denial offensive has been slow coming. Inevitable, I guess, becuase it has required investigation and reporting. We had the Pennsylvania State University inquiry which cleared Michael Mann (see Spinning exoneration of Dr. Michael Mann Into ’Whitewash’) and the UK parliamentary and independent Royal Society inquiries which cleared Phil Jones and the Cimatic Research Unit at University of East Anglia (see Climate scientist Phil Jones exonerated and Officially a fake scandal from science perspective).

Now some of the main stream media newspapers are withdrawing articles they previously published misrepresenting the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), climate scientists and climate science in general. The UK Sunday Times published a correction acknowledging they had misreported the “Amazongate” story, had misreported Dr Simon Lewis, a Royal Society research fellow at the University of Leeds and leading specialist in tropical forest ecology. They had in fact changed their story after it had been checked by Lewis and admit their changes “did not give a fair or accurate account of his views.”

Similarly the German Frankfurter Rundschau has withdrawn a story attacking the IPCC over “Africagate.” What is the moral of all this – don’t trust any “climategate” story?

Lies sometimes survive exposure

However, these retractions haven’t come easily. They were the result of shoddy, if not completely biased, journalism and/or editing (see ’AmazonGate’: how the denial lobby and a dishonest journalist created a fake scandal and Sunday Times admits ‘Amazongate’ story was rubbish. But who’s to blame?). The Sunday Times retraction only came after Dr Lewis made a complaint to the Press Council which was upheld. And the retractions have taken months to occur. As Sharon Begley says it is just simply psychology that people will often continue to believe a lie even after the truth has arrived.

Well – I guess it helps that these newspapers have published retractions and apologies. But what about all those blogs (including several New Zealand ones) and conservative newspapers and websites throughout the world who faithfully repeated the lie – but remain silent now?

That’s not ethical.

See also:

British Newspaper Apologizes to Climate Scientist – NYTimes.com

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