Sunday, December 13, 2009

Seth Borenstein: The AP Climate Scare Preacher

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Seth Borenstein
[ABOVE: AP "Science" Writer, Seth Borenstein, Lead Apologist for Climate Alarmists]

Original article with UPDATES at DBKP: Seth Borenstein: AP Has a ‘Science’ Writer Problem




Seth Borenstein's byline is usually 'Associated Press Science Writer'. It should read 'Associated Press "Science" writer' The scare quotes around "science" are necessary because Borenstein practices a type of reporting that is anything but objective--at least when the subject matter is climate change.

Anyone who's familiar with Borenstein's body of work on climate science for the news cooperative can be certain of two things. 1-That when the AP does a story on climate science, Borenstein's name will likely be on it; and, 2-Whenever a Borenstein AP story and climate science meet, Seth will do his best to scare the bejeezus out of readers: there ain't no happy ending.

A quick look at what this objective "reporter" has written--and the AP has distributed--since the CRU leaked emails surfaced. Readers can make their own judgment.

Recent AP articles by "Science" writer, Seth Borenstein, include:

* Review: Scientists’ e-mails don’t devalue climate theory Sun Dec 13, 2009
* AP verdict: Climate emails show science not faked, but not pretty either Sat Dec 12, 2009
* United Nations to probe climate e-mail leak Fri Dec 4, 2009
* Global warming may require higher dams, stilts Thu Dec 3, 2009
* Obama science advisers grilled over hacked e-mails Wed Dec 2, 2009
* ‘A million small changes’ to better climate Fri Nov 27, 2009
* ‘We are in more trouble than we thought’ Monday Nov 23, 2009

Keep in mind these were all written after the ClimateGate emails were made public on November 19, 2009. One question upon perusing the above list: is Seth Borenstein responding as an objective reporter would?

In case anyone missed his politics, Borenstein also found time from his intrepid AGW journalism to write this paean to President Barack Obama, in which Borenstein compared Obama to Star Trek's Mr. Spock: CAPITAL CULTURE: Is Obama another Mr. Spock? Monday Nov 30, 2009.

The piece had the expected Borenstein M.O.: a heavy reliance on "experts" who already agreed with Borenstein's thesis and the quote of one person, former Bush science adviser Jack Marburger,--for "balance"--who disagreed, which was relegated to the last paragraphs; which are the very ones newspapers most likely will cut when pressed for space.

One such "expert" is Chris Mooney.

"I keep being amazed at how much attention he's [Obama's] spending on science policy," said science policy and journalism blogger Chris Mooney, author of the book "Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future."

Chris Mooney, in case readers haven't guessed, is a typical Borenstein witnesses for the prosecution: another of Mooney's three books is titled, "The Republican War on Science".

Others were a bit more circumspect. From Seth Borenstein
AP Writer: Is Obama Too Spock-like?

Have Associated Press's Seth Borenstein and Chris Matthews had a Vulcan mind-meld? Two weeks ago, you may recall, the MSNBC "Hardball" hosts wondered if the president was just "too darned intellectual."

Today, AP's Borenstein wondered, "Is Obama another Mr. Spock?"

Borenstein's use of those who agree with his preconceived notions as sources is evident in AP verdict: Climate emails show science not faked, but not pretty either. DBKP's LBG investigated the "impartial" sources used by Borenstein, in the article.

The results of that investigation are in AP Verdict Climategate Sham: Expert’s Biased Ties to Climate Change, Global Warming. Not surprisingly, ALL of the sources used by the AP "science" writers were AGW proponents, including several labeled as "moderates".

It seems that Seth Borenstein cherry-picks his sources--just as some of the climate scientists he covers are accused of doing with their data.


Say what you will about Seth Borenstein: he seems to have no qualms about asking for help--especially from those who are alarmists--and about whom he writes.

Nowhere in any of Borenstein's many articles will the reader find that he asked the subjects of his articles for guidance in what he should write.

FRom the East Anglia leaked emails:

On Jul 23, 2009, at 11:54 AM, Borenstein, Seth wrote:

Kevin, Gavin, Mike,
It's Seth again. Attached is a paper in JGR today that
Marc Morano
is hyping wildly. It's in a legit journal. Whatchya think?
Seth Borenstein
Associated Press Science Writer
The Associated Press, 1100 13th St. NW, Suite 700,
Washington, DC

Breezy--for a junior high girl. Not so much for a so-called objective journalist.

As Anthony Watts put it: "But to have Mr. Borenstein report upon the investigation of the leaked East Anglia emails, when he himself is part of the emails, is certainly a conflict of interest."


Watts again:
Here is a sampler of AP practices on questions involving possible conflict of interest. It is not all-inclusive; if you are unsure whether an activity may constitute a conflict or the appearance of a conflict, consult your manager at the onset.

Anyone who works for the AP must be mindful that opinions they express may damage the AP’s reputation as an unbiased source of news. They must refrain from declaring their views on contentious public issues in any public forum, whether in Web logs, chat rooms, letters to the editor, petitions, bumper stickers or lapel buttons, and must not take part in demonstrations in support of causes or movements.

When a reporter get’s too cozy with sources, calling them by their first names, with no hint of professional formality, it raises questions of integrity.

To say the least, the Associated Press has a Seth Borenstein problem.


Pick out any random article on climate change by Seth Borentstein and it will exhibit one, if not all of the following features:

* Heavy reliance on "reliable" sources whom he quotes generously;
* A discrediting of contrary views, even if those views are supported by data;
* Dispatches littered with hopes, dreams and opinions masquerading as settled science;
* Ethical problems, including chumminess with sources who support alarmist scenarios.

One may add the following charges to the list, though they are subjective: Borenstein's been advocating climate alarm for a while; and, if Seth ever gives up his day job, he might apply for a position as a climate alarmist--he's got plenty of experience torturing data to fit his pre-conceived notions.

Maybe Borenstein should invest two minutes in the following video.

Most likely, he will not. One images that he might ask his climate scare buddies what to do with the information the video contains, however.


It's been hard to overlook Borenstein's increasingly-shrill point of view over the last few months. Others have noticed.


If the reader thinks that Seth Borenstein is a late convert to pushing climate change scaremongering, he would be wrong. Borenstein has not only been skewing his articles by quoting AGW proponents as primary sources--many times, the only sources--he's been attacking any who question his beliefs for a long time.

Read the following article Borenstein wrote on Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth and ask yourself if this is the work of someone who's reporting news--or someone who's preaching a set of beliefs.

Borenstein's rave review in Scientists OK Gore's Movie for Accuracy:

WASHINGTON -- The nation's top climate scientists are giving "An Inconvenient Truth," Al Gore's documentary on global warming, five stars for accuracy.

The former vice president's movie _ replete with the prospect of a flooded New York City, an inundated Florida, more and nastier hurricanes, worsening droughts, retreating glaciers and disappearing ice sheets _ mostly got the science right, said all 19 climate scientists who had seen the movie or read the book and answered questions from The Associated Press.
--Tuesday, June 27, 2006

The article labors to project a veneer of objectivity amid all of the climate scare boosterism that's taking place.

The AP contacted more than 100 top climate researchers by e-mail and phone for their opinion. Among those contacted were vocal skeptics of climate change theory. Most scientists had not seen the movie, which is in limited release, or read the book.

But those who have seen it had the same general impression: Gore conveyed the science correctly; the world is getting hotter and it is a manmade catastrophe-in-the-making caused by the burning of fossil fuels.

"Excellent," said William Schlesinger, dean of the Nicholas School of Environment and Earth Sciences at Duke University. "He got all the important material and got it right."

Robert Corell, chairman of the worldwide Arctic Climate Impact Assessment group of scientists, read the book and saw Gore give the slideshow presentation that is woven throughout the documentary.

"I sat there and I'm amazed at how thorough and accurate," Corell said. "After the presentation I said, `Al, I'm absolutely blown away. There's a lot of details you could get wrong.' ... I could find no error."

Gore, in an interview with the AP, said he wasn't surprised "because I took a lot of care to try to make sure the science was right."

The tiny errors scientists found weren't a big deal, "far, far fewer and less significant than the shortcoming in speeches by the typical politician explaining an issue," said Michael MacCracken, who used to be in charge of the nation's global warming effects program and is now chief scientist at the Climate Institute in Washington.

One concern was about the connection between hurricanes and global warming. That is a subject of a heated debate in the science community. Gore cited five recent scientific studies to support his view.

"I thought the use of imagery from Hurricane Katrina was inappropriate and unnecessary in this regard, as there are plenty of disturbing impacts associated with global warming for which there is much greater scientific consensus," said Brian Soden, a University of Miami professor of meteorology and oceanography.

Of course, a British high court later found An Inconvenient Truth to contain nine basic scientific "untruths" which would have to be corrected before the film could be shown to Brit schoolchildren.

But, how could an AP "Science" writer be expected to foresee that happening?

Especially one so busy pimping for a particular viewpoint?

BORENSTEIN was also on the attack against Michael Crichton's novel, "State of Fear" in 2005: Novel on global warming gets some scientists burned up

Sixteen of 18 top U.S. climate scientists interviewed by Knight Ridder, however, said the Harvard-trained author is bending scientific data and distorting research.

"Wrong, wrong, wrong," said Martin Hoffert, a professor of physics at New York University. "The best face I can put on this is that he doesn't know what he's doing. The worst is that he's intentionally deceiving people as he accuses environmentalists (of doing) in 'State of Fear.' "

The majority of climate scientists say the world is warming, mainly because of emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases. The biggest increase in those gases comes from the burning of fossil fuels. U.S. and foreign authorities predict a 5-degree Fahrenheit increase in the world's average temperature by the end of the century. Ice sheets are melting, and species of birds and animals have moved to new areas because of warming.

Again, Borenstein provides cover for himself by writing that Crichton declined a request to be interviewed. Might the writer have known which way the Borenstein climate wind was blowing?


When it comes to the reporting of climate science, perhaps the AP should stand for "Associated Propaganda"? After all, Seth Borenstein has been pushing a particular side of a controversial subject for some time. Some might call that "propaganda".

Why hasn't the AP done something about this problem? For some AP readers, Seth Borenstein's "science" is the only science reporting they will read. Doesn't the AP have a responsibility to present news of an important subject like climate change in an objective manner?

Apparently not.

It's hard to take the AP and Borenstein seriously when they refuse to treat an important scientific subject in an even-handed--dare we say "scientific"--way.

But perhaps the AP is not aware of this problem. Seth Borenstein may think he is doing actual reporting.

Readers could help the AP out and let them know that there is a problem. Maybe Seth Borenstein would do more reporting and less proselytizing?

Contact information for the AP is at the end of this article.

The pushing of a particular viewpoint would be no problem for Seth Borenstein, private citizen. Or, Seth Borenstein, director of PR for some AGW think tank (Perhaps he's auditioning?).

It's a huge one for Seth Borenstein, AP "Science" Writer.

Yet, Seth Borenstein still writes, churning out opinion pieces masquerading as news. He continues citing sources from one side of the debate, colluding with the subjects he's writing about, and attacking those who disagree with his favored views--very unscientific for a "science" writer.

Seth Borenstein is also ensuring that his views on climate change--and the AP's as well--become increasingly irrelevant, overtaken by time and the science about which he pretends to write objectively.

by Mondo Frazier
images: I Own the World; DBKP

The Associated Press contact information:

450 W. 33rd St.
New York, NY 10001

Main Number

Paul Colford
Director of Media Relations

Jack Stokes
Manager of Media Relations
--information courtesy of WattsUpwithThat

NOTE: Seth Borenstein was not contacted for his views on this piece.

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