How interesting: I turn my site into a reader-friendly forum where all sides of the climate debate can meet and have a constructive and civil discussion, and suddenly my name is being dragged through the bloggy mud. Have we hit a nerve somewhere?
The latest spate of notoriety is sufficiently negative to warrant a response. I’ll try to be brief.
To start, let me say that I don’t regard this post by Michael Tobis as anything more than a reasonable rebuttal. I actually like Michael and respect him very much, even though we keep having these dust-ups. I can imagine us laughing about it over beers one day if I ever make it to Austin, Texas (or he comes to NYC).
I don’t think that would ever be the case with Eli Rabett, who left a few droppings in this post. Or Arthur Smith, who appears to have wasted too much of his time parsing a handful of my posts from the last year and half. Same with Tim Lambert, who is only too happy to publicize Arthur’s handiwork. It seems to be personal with these three guys. I sense their intent is to harm my reputation, and since I work as both a freelance journalist and part-time journalism professor, I feel compelled to respond.
Because Arthur did expend so much energy on my behalf, he does deserve a lengthier response than what I gave at his place. The problem is that he uses this Rommian style that ends up sucking the life out of you before you’re even finished with the post. Arthur, please, have some mercy next time and leave out all the minutia.
Anyway, there’s no way I’m going to do a point by point rebuttal. That would eat up the rest of August. Instead, here’s how this will go. I’ll give brief answers to each of Arthur’s five “strikes” that he accuses me of. Interested readers who want to follow along should open up a new tab with his post and read us side by side. Here we go.
1) The charge: I am unfairly critical of Joe Romm.
Answer: It is strange to me that Arthur feels compelled to defend “America’s fiercest climate blogger” (a tag Romm proudly advertises on his site), a guy who often uses brass knuckles to regularly slam reporters whose stories don’t meet Romm’s satisfaction. It is also odd to me that Arthur failed to mention the stink bomb Joe dropped on me last year (see, Romm is more than up to the task to defend himself), or the thorough deconstruction of this bomb by Stoat (in an in-line commentary). Nuff said when it comes to Romm.
2) The charge: The first time I supposedly quote-mined something Michael Tobis said.
Answer: I stand by what I wrote back then in this post. Michael and I had several long exchanges on this in subsequent posts at his blog and mine and we just disagree on the meaning of his language. I firmly reject the charge of quote mining.
3) The charge: I misrepresented (in this post) the thrust of David Brin’s article on climate skeptics.
Answer: It’s bizarre to me that Arthur ignores Brin’s own acknowledgment (here and here) that I got his article generally right. In any event, if I had badly mischaracterized his piece, and Brin (who has multiple forums) only realized it later on, wouldn’t he have mentioned it? Not a peep.
4) The charge: That I took a quote from climate scientist Gavin Schmidt out of context, making it sound conciliatory, and highlighted it in a post.
Answer: This is quite a skewed reading of the quote on Arthur’s part. At any rate, Arthur should know that I’m fairly diligent about checking all quoted material with sources that I have interviewed or communicated with, including single quotes or passages I might want to highlight in my blog. So prior to the post that Arthur takes offense to, I emailed Gavin and told him what I wanted to do. I explained my intent, gave him the quote of his that I wanted to use (which appeared in a comment thread of an existing post) and the context it would appear in. He replied, “feel free.”
5. The charge: That I distorted a comment from Michael Tobis in one of my threads and used it as ammunition in a separate post where I called him hypocritical.
Answer: I’m going to cop to this charge–but not the assertion that I did it willfully. I’ve thought about this a lot since that post appeared and have concluded that I should have been more careful in my choice of words. I happen to think that there are worse things than being called hypocritical (such as evil or deceptive), but I’m now inclined to agree that I treated Michael unfairly in that post. I made a poorly constructed argument for hypocrisy and in doing so made some leaps I shouldn’t have, and for that I apologize to Michael.
There you have it: Arthur hurls four knuckleballs wide and outside. One curveball for a strike. I suppose now I’ll have to keep my eyes out for spitballs too.