Commentary Magazine


The Times Spots a Squirrel

The New York Times, the very apotheosis of agenda-driven “journalism,” has a front-page story today that takes up a quarter of that page, above the fold, and half an inside page, entitled, “Not Even Close: 2012 Was the Hottest Ever in U.S.” It covers the recently issued report of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center regarding last year’s weather statistics.

The Times correctly tells its readers what NOAA reported, which fits in perfectly with the Times’s take on global warming. What it does not do is question in any way, shape or form, whether the statistics in the report are accurate.

But there are a lot of questions, as Power Line reported yesterday. Anthony Watts, who runs the highly popular Watts Up With That blog on climate change, has uncovered evidence that the data had been systematically corrupted in order to produce the desired curve of rising temperatures. For instance, he found that in the original paper versions of data from February 1934, the average temperature for that month in Arizona is given as 52.0 degrees F. In the current on-line data available from the National Climatic Data Center, the average temperature for Arizona in February 1934, is given as having been 48.9 degrees. The difference of more than three degrees is huge.

If Anthony Watts’s reporting is accurate, this would be gross scientific malpractice. I haven’t the faintest idea who is right here, Anthony Watts or the NCDC, as I am neither a climatologist nor a statistician. But one would think that the New York Times, with its unmatched journalistic resources, might have looked into the discrepancy before running with the story.

After all, if they could discredit Watts Up With That, they would diminish a major critic of the global warming hypothesis. If they can prove that the NCDC data has been cooked, they will have uncovered a major government scandal, and that sells newspapers, which is the business the Times is supposed to be in.

But, it seems, there’s an agenda to advance and so … Oh, look, a squirrel!