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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Global Warming Deniers Nailed Cold

If you know anyone who is buying the wingnut snake oil being termed “climategate,’ direct them post-haste to Lee Fang’s post, “A Case Of Classic SwiftBoating: How The Right-Wing Noise Machine Manufactured ‘Climategate’ ” in ‘The Wonk Room’ at Think Progress web pages. Fang not only demolishes the allegation that global warming is a myth; he also shows quite clearly how the wingnuts distort and manipulate facts to smear scientists and policy makers who are raising concerns about global warming. An excerpt:

…Polluter-funded climate skeptics, along with their allies in conservative media and the Republican Party, sifted through the e-mails, and quickly cherry picked quotes to falsely accuse climate scientists of concocting climate change science out of whole cloth. The skeptics also propelled the story, dubbed “Climategate,” to the cover of the New York Times and newspapers across the globe. According to a Nexis news search, the Climategate story has been reported at least 325 times in the American press alone.
…As the right attempts to use the Climategate story to derail the Copenhagen Climate Change Conference this week, arctic sea ice is still at historically low levels, Australia is still on fire, the northern United Kingdom is still underwater, the world’s glaciers are still disappearing and today NOAA confirmed that not only is it the hottest decade in history, but 2009 was one of the hottest years in history. But how did the right-wing noise machine hijack the debate?

Fang then describes how the media was manipulated to serve the wingnut scam:

The methods for the right-wing political hit machine were honed during the Clinton years. Columnist and language-guru William Safire, a former aide to actual Watergate crook President Nixon, attached “-gate” to any minor post-Nixon incident as a “rhetorical legerdemain” intended “to establish moral equivalence.” (See phony manufactured scandals “Travelgate,” “Whitewatergate,” etc.) A right-wing echo chamber — including the Rev. Moon-funded Washington Times, the Wall Street Journal editorial page, talk radio, and the constellation of various conservative front groups and think tanks — would then blare the scandal incessantly, regardless of the truth. But the more troubling aspect of this gimmick is the increasing willingness for traditional media outlets, from the Evening News to the Washington Post, to largely reprint unfounded right-wing smears without context or critical reporting.
One of the most successful coups for right-wing hit men was the “SwiftBoat” campaign, a well financed effort orchestrated by lobbyists and Bush allies to smear Sen. John Kerry’s (D-MA) war record. But “Climategate” is no different, with many of the same conservatives actors playing their respective roles…

The rest of Fang’s post is a richly-linked, detailed chronology of the media campaign to puff up “climategate” and discredit scientists who are doing serious work on the issue — required reading for anyone who cares about the crisis of global warming.

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