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Free Speech? Forget It.

January 13, 2021

If you are skeptical about climate change claims and have a prominent position, the New York Times will attack you. It will minimize your credentials, call you a “denialist,” sensationalize your comments, and never consider the quality of your research.

Here is the latest “news”:  David Legates and Ryan Maue, scientists with the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, have been moved from the White House and reassigned to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) where they had previously been employed.

What did they do to cause this downgrading?

They posted what the New York Times called “debunked scientific reports” on a ”climate denial” website (sponsored by a private research group, the Center for Environmental Research and Earth Sciences or CERES). They did this without the approval of Kelvin Droegemeier, head of the science and technology office.

Strangely enough, Droegemeier heard about the posting only through the media.

The Times said of the action, “The gambit appeared to be a rogue effort to put the imprimatur of the federal government on research that aims to undermine the established science of climate change.”

Rogue? Until January 12, David Legates was head of the United States Global Change Research program, and the posts were about global climate change. Perhaps the goal was to provide the public with some research offering an alternative to the apocalyptic claims now inaccurately described as “established” science? (“Establishment” science, yes.)

Let’s look at some of the language the Times used in this supposed news piece:

It downplayed credentials. Legates was called “a climate denialist installed last year by the Trump administration to oversee scientific work on climate change.” Actually, he is a professor in the Department of Geography and Spatial Sciences and the Physical Ocean Science and Engineering Program in the School of Marine Science and Policy at the University of Delaware, now working with NOAA and the White House. He is a climatologist.

Roy Spencer is described as a “climate denialist.” Actually, he is U.S. Science Team leader for the Advanced Microwave Scanning Radiometer (on NASA’s Aqua satellite) as well as a principal research scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and a meteorologist.

William Happer not only got a generic description but his accomplishments played second fiddle to the Times’ effort to make him sound extreme. He is “a physicist who has likened the focus on carbon dioxide to the ‘demonization of the poor Jews under Hitler.’” Actually, he is Cyrus Fogg Brackett Professor of Physics, emeritus, at Princeton.

A little more background:  the “debunked reports” were meant to be brochures, according to CERES, which took them off its site in response to “a number of ‘hit piece’ articles in the media.” CERES has dropped the files while also attempting to explain the project.

“The original version of this webpage was initially posted as a temporary “mirror” archive of a collection of 10 pdf files from a number of researchers, including one pdf by CERES. No context was provided because its original purpose was simply for sharing via e-mail with some colleagues. The webpage was to allow easy access to the files for discussion purposes. However, given the large media attention that this generated, we have updated this webpage to provide additional information.”

But at the moment, the PDFs are not available.

UPDATE: You can find the PDFs at this story at

[First posted at the Liberty and Ecology Blog.]

Jane S. Shaw is higher education editor for School Reform News at The Heartland Institute.
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