It has been my impression that the New York Times leading writer on climate for the last 15 years, Andy Revkin, has been too close to Gavin Schmidt, James Hansen, and Michael Mann to have much in the way of perspective on their political agenda, or, if you prefer, their scientific agenda. I even argued this to the Times ombudsman shortly after Climategate broke in the fall of 2009. I was just aghast how comfortable Revkin was explaining away what was clearly malfeasance by his go-to list of scientific sources. Less than two weeks later, Revkin had left the news side of the Times, which was a strange coincidence. And, yes, I understand, nothing more.
Perched as he remains at the Times’ as the primary blogger on its Dot Earth Blog, he likes to insist that he is no longer part of the news apparatus at all. Particularly when things get a little dicey. And, make no mistake, things are dicey now. Why?
Because Revkin clearly has a relationship with the central player in Fakegate, the recent saga in which Heartland Institute documents were fraudulently solicited. Now, Revkin effectively threw that person, Peter Gleick, under the bus, it’s true. But he also clearly has a privileged relationship with Gleick. I’ve been asking Gleick to admit that he is the author of the most significant document that journalists around the world pointed to as evidence of Heartland’s heart of darkness. I’ve told Gleick that the longer he waits the more damage he will do both to his side in the climate wars and to his own career. And I sincerely feel compassion for the man. He is trying to save the world, no doubt, and he got a little carried away. OK, super carried away. Gleick has, I’m sorry to report, not responded to my calls for comment.
Here’s where Revkin comes in. I asked him whether he had been making any effort to get to the truth of the faked document at the heart of Fakegate. Revkin’s response: “He told me day one that the Huffington statement was all he was going to say.” Now, I can see how a reporter at The New York Times, and whatever he calls himself, Revkin remains a reporter (just one who’s entitled to express opinions without reservation), would accept such a statement from a man whose world was crashing down all around him, as Gleick’s was that day.
But I cannot understand why Revkin would not, upon reflection and with the passage of time, come to be curious about whether, as seems likely to just about everyone who has stopped to think about it for a few moments, Gleick not only impersonated a trustee at Heartland but wrote the central document in this saga.
And, so I asked Revkin, “Have you asked Gleick if he wrote the document?” Revkin’s response is here:
I don’t make a habit of discussing my reporting process when an issue/story is “live.”
The Times news staff is definitely engaged on this story, but our “firewall” means I don’t know more than that.
Let me start with the second part of what Revkin said. I am surprised to hear that he is not allowed to converse with Times reporters about climate change articles that they are reporting. In fact, it strains credulity somewhat, but oh well.
As for the first part, I wasn’t asking Revkin if he could share contact information for sources, or what sequence of steps his reporting will follow on Fakegate or any other story.
I have asked him, twice now, if he bothered to ask Peter Gleick if he was the author of an internationally significant document that someone fraudulently produced two weeks ago.
And Revkin has gone silent.
Sure, it’s possible that Revkin’s critique of Gleick was so impassioned that he feels he can no longer ask the man a simple question. You know what I say? Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Before his e-mails to me, Revkin sent me a direct Twitter message saying he was open to ideas. Once again, here’s my idea: Ask Gleick.
And, Dr. Gleick, if you’re reading this, feel free to buy my book, available here. It’s never too late to come in from the cold.