Fakegate.

I’ve been watching the developments following the publication of the Heartland documents, what’s now very appropriately become known as Fakegate. As usual, the propaganda organ of climate alarmism, otherwise known as the mainstream media, has been very quick off the mark to circulate any material which could discredit climate realists.

What is apparent when the handful of documents are examined, is that there’s not actually much juicy scandal in them at all except for one, and that document is a rather clumsy fake. However, neither the anonymous provenance nor the dubious veracity of the material, prevented it being splashed across the internet; seemingly within an hour of its receipt in the case of the Desmog blog, if accounts are to be believed.

There seems to be a curious disconnect between prudent journalism, as exercised online, and in the more traditional media of newspapers and television. Patently, the faked material and its release were designed to damage the reputation of an institution and its members but that doesn’t seem to have been a consideration when it came to verifying, publishing or editorialising on it.

Imagine if you will, the news desk of a major newspaper receiving an anonymous package of documents and going to press immediately, without checking into their authenticity or indeed, even contacting the persons named in them. That would never happen in the real world because losing a libel suit is not only very expensive but very damaging to a newspaper’s reputation. That sort of common sense seems to be lacking in the alarmist online world. It’s interesting to note that most of the major papers did not run with the story, the Guardian being one of the exceptions. I do find it amusing that they immediately spun it as a leak rather than a hack.

I think there is a popular delusion that the libel laws that every country has on its statute books, somehow don’t apply to the online world but I’m afraid they do. This delusion is reinforced by another common one, which is that when you’re online, you’re anonymous and can therefore get away with saying or writing anything about anybody. That as well, is simply not true. It’s a digital environment, everything is logged, everything is recorded and everything is traceable if one is persistent.

When examined from an infowar aspect, Fakegate is actually a bad mistake which I think is going to be capitalised on. The climate alarmists have an ingrained habit of grabbing headlines by misrepresenting or excessively exaggerating the facts of a story. A sensational story will always get some attention and if some qualification or indeed retraction of it has to be done, it won’t be on page one and not for a long time after. It’s a consequence free method of implanting a false message into the public psyche. I imagine people think Fakegate falls into the same category.

Unfortunately for some journalists, it doesn’t. This won’t be a storm in a teacup which will be allowed to blow over. It’s going to drag on for a long time. In their response to Fakegate, the Heartland Institute have signalled their intention, in no uncertain terms, to seek financial damages in the law courts from those persons who used the fake documents to sully its reputation.

Someone at the Heartland Institute has correctly identified this as a major opportunity to get some ongoing publicity for the next year or so and also teach the more irresponsible elements of what’s laughably called environmental journalism, a very expensive lesson. Sure, this will take up some management time but not a lot and judging by some of the articles I’ve read, you’ve certainly got a few slam dunk libel actions, which can safely be handed off to a capable law firm. Make a few examples; us poor climate realists will enjoy that.

From a propaganda angle, it works okay too. Journalism is going through a bad phase at the moment and a series of actions, pitched as the diminutive David fighting against the slings and arrows of outrageous journalism should play very well. It’s an easy sell, your PR people will love it.

To certain journalists and bloggers out there, I’d advise them to re-read very carefully what the wrote about the Heartland Institute, based on false documents and perhaps get a quick retraction out, as well as consulting with their professional liability insurance provider. You do have that insurance, don’t you? I think you’ll find that recklessly trashing reputations using bogus documents isn’t covered. It’s your responsibility to check the facts before publishing. While it’s relatively easy to prove an electronic document is a fake, that’s not the problem you have. You’re going to be asked to prove it’s genuine. That’s a lot harder to do, especially when you’re in a court of law on the receiving end of a libel suit. That’s your only defense – good luck with that one.

A rather ominous sign is typing “fakegate” into google news and only getting one result. When you click on “All results for fakegate”, it magically produces over 5000 results. They’ve obviously had a word with their legal eagles.

You wanted your very own contra-climategate so badly, you could taste it. When you got it, you immediately rushed to publish it without a moment’s checking or thought. The second of the two golden rules of journalism applies; when handed a story on a plate by someone, ask yourself what’s in it for them. The thought does arise that whoever sent you the material, had a fair idea of what you’d probably do with it and the long-term consequences of running a story based on faked evidence.

Perhaps they weren’t a friend after all …

©Pointman

Related articles :

The death of journalism and the irresistible rise of the blogosphere.

The MSM and Climate Alarmism.

Oh, what a wonderful MSM.

Click for a list of other articles.

Comments
24 Responses to “Fakegate.”
  1. NoIdea says:

    DATA BOMB

    When we look back with hindsight,
    And ask ourselves whom?
    Cui bono, who benefits?
    Is it a leaky hacking hoaxer?
    Or an ID stealing whistle-blower?
    All publicity is good perhaps,
    A truth from the heart that lands, hurts.
    The fake paper at best mediocre, stinks.

    NoIdea

  2. Greg, from Spokane says:

    for Fakegate: 16k results on Google’s general search, 11.3k on Bing. Both show about 13k for “fakegate”.

    Fun to see Delingpole at #1 in G.

  3. Blackswan says:

    Pointman

    This is a pretty amazing turn of events isn’t it?

    While hypocrisy has loomed large in all directions by the Climate Hysterics, for sheer ‘front’ these blokes have to take first prize ……

    Bob Ward, Grantham Research Institute LSE, says: “If the memos are genuine, I think most parents would be horrified to learn of an organisation that is attempting to influence their children’s education to promote its own agenda.” and …..

    Chris Rapley, Professor of Climate Science, University College London says: “The fact that some scientists are “hired hands” in using the strength of science, i.e its honesty and respect for uncertainty, as a weapon against it, is nothing new, although it’s good to have specific names and facts and figures.”

    For thirty years our children have been steeped in the phony Climate ideology that has been shoved down their throats to the exclusion of any other point of view. Their understanding of basic science has been so compromised that they have difficulty distinguishing the difference between “Carbon Dioxide Pollution” (as espoused by the Hysterics and their useful idiot politicians and schoolteachers) and the particulate carbon matter that belched out of 19th century chimney stacks.

    It’s about time that somebody funded and developed a more realistic and truthful science curriculum for schools, though what’s the bet that it will never be taken up under the threat of losing recurrent taxpayer funding?

    As for Rapley; astonishing that the words didn’t stick in his throat and choke him.

    We can only hope that as the trickle turns to a deluge in the Climate dam wall, that some litigation causes all sides to “put up or shut up” and the Hysterics be required to prove their spurious claims in a court of law.

    “We live in interesting times” doesn’t begin to tell half the story.

  4. A Lovell says:

    If DeSmogblog is successfully sued for libel, would that mean they would end up ‘funding’ Heartland?

    How delicious!

  5. Pointman says:

    “Heartland Institute raising money off ‘Denialgate'”

    “A spokesman for the Chicago-based libertarian group said President Joseph Bast sent an email to donors Wednesday soliciting funds as it considers civil and criminal prosecution against the person who originally obtained the materials, as well as blogs and publications that later published them.”

    http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0212/73002.html

    Please contribute generously. You’ll eventually be rewarded by a generous donation to the Heartland Institute by the DeSmogBlog.

    Pointman

  6. colliemum says:

    What I find interesting in this ‘fakergate’ is the mindset betrayed by both the perpetrator(s) and those who couldn’t wait to run with it, be it the Graunaid and the Beeb, or that blog on the west Coast of Canada – who took just one hour to have it online.

    The mindset is that of the old-time political agitators of communist/socialist/progressive vintage. They knew they could only reach a small number of people, so getting their leaflets out as fast as possible was what they did. Facts were subordinate to propaganda, which was the main point of the exercise. Libel was not a problem – if someone did go to court, then there was always a rich donor to help ‘the cause’, and the ‘responsible’ editor could be replaced immediately by a new one.

    Using this sort of agitprop doesn’t work so well today, where far more people with relevant experience and information can spot what is wrong, false, a smear or a fake – and won’t hesitate to use the law. Using the internet may be fast – but it also provides indelible proof. One may be able to quickly eat the last few flyers to get rid of the evidence when the police comes. Eating one’s PC is ill-advised, and won’t ever get rid of the evidence. Tough!

    Fakergate has shown us that the AGW proponents rely on and use outdated agitprop techniques – long may they suffer the consequences!

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome Colliemum, hope you’ve been keeping well. You’re quite right, the internet never forgets anything.

      Pointman

      • colliemum says:

        Thanks, pointman! Events are keeping me on my toes :-)))

        Yep, the internet doesn’t forget,and there are more of us every day who make sure things don’t go down the memory hole.

  7. Pointman says:

    People may recall Greg Laden’s controversial article about Tallbloke a few weeks ago. Seems like he’s still leading with his chin. Heartland Institute, please take note.

    http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/02/heartlandgate_anti-science_ins.php

    Pointman

    • hro001 says:

      Pointman, it was actually a few months ago that Laden tripped himself up re Tallbloke … Quite possibly he was led down the garden path by Hickman (as may well be the case this time, considering that he also points to Hickman’s quick on the draw uptake of the smoggrifications!)

      Never let it be said that these warm-side activists and cheer-leading churnalists are not very slow learners!

      • hro001 says:

        Sorry, looks like I messed up the tags … let me try this again:

        Pointman, it was actually a few months ago that Laden tripped himself up re Tallbloke … Quite possibly he was led down the garden path by Hickman (as may well be the case this time, considering that he also points to Hickman’s quick on the draw uptake of the smoggrifications!)

        Never let it be said that these warm-side activists and cheer-leading churnalists are not very slow learners!

      • Pointman says:

        No problem Hilary. It looks like Greg’s got his letter from HI’s legal people. His loyal followers are encouraging him to stand fast all the way into court. Curiously, each of their supporting statements begins with “I’m not a lawyer but.” Of course, they’re not putting themselves in any danger so the can afford to be defiant …

        http://scienceblogs.com/gregladen/2012/02/i_just_got_an_email_from_the_h.php

        P

  8. EvilTB says:

    I think they’ve figured out who wrote the document. The Atlantic’s Megan McArdle pretty much narrows it down to a single person in a blog post:

    http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/02/heartland-memo-looking-faker-by-the-minute/253276/

    1) They are on the west coast

    2) They own or have access to an Epson scanner–though God knows, this could be at a Kinkos.

    3) They probably themselves have a somewhat run-on writing style

    4) I’m guessing they use the word “high-profile” a fair amount.

    5) They are bizarrely obsessed with global warming coverage at Forbes, which suggests to me that there is a good chance that they write or comment on the website, or that they have tangled with writers at Forbes (probably Taylor) either in public or private.

    6) The last paragraph is the biggest departure from the source documents, and is therefore likely to be closest to the author’s own style.

    7) I have a strong suspicion that they refrained from commenting on the document dump. That’s what I’d do, anyway. A commenter or email correspondent who suddenly disappeared when they normally would have been reveling in this sort of story is a good candidate.

    8) They seem to have it in for Andy Revkin at the New York Times. There’s nothing in the other documents to indicate that Heartland thinks Revkin is amenable to being . . . turned? I’m not sure what the right word is, but the implication in the strategy memo that Heartland believes it could somehow develop a relationship with Revkin seems aimed at discrediting Revkin’s work.

    She then states:

    Unfortunately, I’d imagine that this is still a sizeable set of people, and it will be hard to identify the author.

    She’s wrong, She pretty much narrowed it down to Peter Gleick

    • Pointman says:

      Hello and welcome to the blog EvilTB.

      I read the original article but would have to say that while it’s interesting, all the clues are totally circumstantial. If I were to estimate which one is the strongest, I’d say the writing style or the “fist”. However, even that can be faked to lay a false trail. Once you recognise a style, it’s easy to fake it.

      Mel Brooks doing Frank Sinatra 2:50 mins into this clip.

      Pointman

      • EvilTB says:

        Fair enough, but if the circumstantial evidence pointed towards somebody like Gavin Schmidt I’d doubt it more. Schmidt, to the best of my knowledge doesn’t review books on Amazon he didn’t read. I guess it’s also possible Gleick read the book and simply has difficulty understanding material written at the Grade 10 level.

  9. alexjc38 says:

    “You wanted your very own contra-climategate so badly, you could taste it. When you got it, you immediately rushed to publish it without a moment’s checking or thought.”

    Spot on, Pointman. This utter giddiness on the part of some journalists and bloggers who should really have known better, is an indication, I think, of just how much the Climategate emails rankled, despite all the commentary from the CAGW proponents about how Climategate amounted basically to nothing and that it was all just about scientists being human.

    Au contraire, I agree it shows that Climategate hit home and it hurt. Now it appears the retaliation has backfired, and that’s going to hurt, too.

    • hro001 says:

      Alex, I agree!

      It also occurs to me that they fail to realize that each time they try to bury Climategate with such sloppy “journalism”, their “stories” probably result in drawing the eyes and attention of readers who might previously have been completely oblivious to the history thus far. With the unintended consequence that Climategate draws the attention from which they are trying to deflect!

      As the much ballyhooed so-called rise in global average temperature has failed to co-operate for a good number of years – those who seek to inform themselves (rather than taking the word of media mavens whose credibility seems to decline by the week) have been increasing in numbers.

      This seems to correlate with a significant decrease amongst the general public of those who are willing to voice belief in the tenets of the Climate Bible.

      Once again, the climate-concerned have triggered a negative feedback effect rather than the positive feedback effect they’ve postulated from the parameters they’d prefer not to deal with🙂

  10. Labmunkey says:

    Very good post PM, i especially like this observation:

    “You wanted your very own contra-climategate so badly, you could taste it. When you got it, you immediately rushed to publish it without a moment’s checking or thought.”

    Richard Black springs immediatley to mind.

  11. w.w.wygart says:

    Pointman,

    By the way… you are presently at number nine on Google when you querry, “fakegate.”

    What horrifies me the most in this whole sordid affair is the degree to which people who you might think ought to be rational, well educated, well informed – sane – and who purport to espouse liberal ideals are willing to rationalize and even lionize Gleick’s actions – witness S. Salmoney’s several comments over at DotEarth. Shocking.

    This reminded me of a passage from Romanian Philosopher E.M. Coiran’s Precis de Décomposition, rendered [very roughly] into English:

    “Ideas should be neutral, but man animates them with his passions and follies. Impure and turned into beliefs, they take on the appearance of reality. The passage from logic is consummated.
    Thus are born ideologies, doctrines and bloody farce.”

    or for those who care in the original French:

    En elle-même toute idea est neutre, ou devrait l’etre:
    mais l’homme l’anime y projette ses flammes et ses démences;
    impure, transformée en croyane, elle s’insére dans le temps.
    prende figure d’événement:
    Le passage de la logique à l’épilepsie est consommé…
    Ainsi naissent les idéologies, les doctrines, et les farces sanglantes.

    ~E.M. Coiran
    Precis de Décomposition

    [M’excuser s’il y a une erreur, la mémoire est cruelle, et je n’ai pas l’original sous la main.]

    for those unfamiliar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.M._Cioran

    It seems that the ‘climate wars’ we are living through have already descended into “bloody farce.”

    Those who have descended into such self-serving rationalization and self-delusion would be well recommended to remember that History is unkind to such personalities.

    HISTORY WILL BURY YOU

    W^3

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