Ben Buchwalter

Daily Mail Bends Science to Support ‘Global Cooling’
February 2, 2010, 11:50 pm
Filed under: Environment, Media, Mother Jones | Tags: , , , ,

Climate change deniers pop up all over the place. But they’re rarely part of the Nobel-winning International Panel on Climate Change. So when Professor Mojib Latiff of the IPCC was quoted in Britain’s Daily Mail as a convert to the “global cooling” hypothesis, it raised eyebrows. Well it turns out that’s not what he said at all. I wrote a summary of the controversy that got picked up on the front page of the Huffington Post and the lead of HuffPost’s Green page. Here’s an excerpt:

But speaking to the Guardian yesterday, Latif pushed back hard against the Mail, saying that the tabloid took his comments out of context to make an editorial statement. “It comes as a surprise to me that people would try to use my statements to try to dispute the nature of global warming. I believe in manmade global warming. I have said that if my name was not Mojib Latif it would be global warming,” he said. “There is no doubt within the scientific community that we are affecting the climate, that the climate is changing and responding to our emissions of greenhouse gases.”

This is a predictable misstep for the Mail, which has a conservative streak and recently published a set of denialist stories, including Sunday’s David Rose report “The Mini Ice Age Starts Here,” and a special investigation on the Climategate emails last December.


MoJo Interview with Eric Boehlert
November 22, 2009, 5:47 pm
Filed under: Media, Mother Jones | Tags: , ,

June 26, 2009

I’ve always been fascinated by the chronology of blogging and how it became the media bohemith it is today. Now, every newspaper, magazine, and even government agency has a blog. But when the movement began, it was defined by a cohort of unpaid independents who blogged secretly at work, or at nights and on weekends… whenever they could fit it in. Eric Boehlert, the Media Matters blogger who was once a Salon reporter, tied some of these stories together in his book Bloggers on the Bus. I spoke to Boehlert about Obama-era netroots, up and coming wonks, and the future of the blogosphere. Hear the podcast and read the interview.

Here’s an excerpt:

It’s interesting, the stories I enjoy telling were bloggers who really didn’t fit the classic caricature of a liberal blogger. The idea of someone right out of college with a laptop and black glasses and a beard typing away was never really accurate, but I think it got pushed in the press. I found, instead, people like Mayhill Fowler, who was a campaign correspondent for “Off the Bus” project last year. She’s the one who broke the “bittergate” story and she’s the one who broke, on the last day of the campaign, Bill Clinton going off on a Vanity Fair reporter on the rope line. She’s in her sixties, she’s a mother from the Bay area who had no connection to politics or journalism prior to the last campaign. People like Howie Klein who runs Down with Tyranny, who’s been very helpful in terms of getting funding for some of those insurgent Democrats. Those very liberal candidates who want to run for Congress. Howie used to be a record company president – Reprise Records – he had a very long and distinguished career in the music industry and then he turned 60, and decided that he wanted a second life and that it would be blogging. One other one that I’ll mention real quick is John Amato, who created Crooks and Liars in the summer of 2004. John was playing saxophone with Duran Duran as his last job before starting Crooks and Liars, which revolutionized blogging and liberal blogging by introducing video into the content. And of course this was pre-YouTube, when it was impossible just to get snippets of a TV show and put it on your blog. John cracked the code and was able to do that. John turned 50 during the campaign last year. So I enjoy telling the stories of people who had more of a life resume and came to blogging later in life and brought with them this unique perspective and unique talent that otherwise, without the Internet, never would have been tapped in to.

5 Funniest Gibbs Moments
November 22, 2009, 5:16 pm
Filed under: Barack Obama, Media, Mother Jones, Random | Tags: , ,

June 11, 2009

There’s no doubt, White House press secretary Robert Gibbs is a funny dude. A Politico report found that in President Obama’s first four months in office, the press room stenographer recorded 600 separated instances of “laughter.” Back in June, I compiled the five funniest moments of the young presidency. Here’s the funniest:

Don’t Just Comment on the News, Dig it up and Make it.
February 27, 2009, 12:11 pm
Filed under: Media, Republicans | Tags: , , ,

Eric just pointed this out to me. Tucker Carlson speaking some sense about the media at CPAC. Advocating for a conservative news organization that has news as its primary focus. Cites the New York Times as a good example on the Liberal side.

Light Blogging this Week…
February 23, 2009, 4:34 pm
Filed under: Media, Random | Tags: ,

Mostly links. 

See Ezra Klein on Twittering:

So I give: Twittering is the next big thing. It’s the new blogging. It’s like Vampire Weekend combined with Watchmen dusted with affordable hydrogen energy technology. And unlike with blogs, the MSM seems determined to get there first.

Newspapers as Nonprofits
February 4, 2009, 1:14 pm
Filed under: Media | Tags: , ,

A few weeks back, David Swenson and Michael Schmidt wrote an op-ed for the New York Times calling for the nonprofitization of newspapers. These nonprofit institutions would be run much like Colleges and Universitites, driven largely by their endowments.

Endowments would enhance newspapers’ autonomy while shielding them from the economic forces that are now tearing them down.

As evidence that the newspaper model needs to be revived, the authors point to the declining economic success of the New York Times, Washington Post, and a handful of the nation’s other leading daily newspapers. And it’s well known that the American media, driven by ratings and traditional modes of economic success, have strayed from covering the most important domestic and international news, to monopolizing print with fluff that will draw hoardes of readers (or viewers) and boost numbers. 

In short, newspapers are no longer educating people about important news. They tell readers what they want to hear. Nonprofit newspapers could resore journalism to its proper purpose by granting the organizations the autonomy to cover the most important news, not only the most shocking. 

Slate has a stupid article up today opposing nonprofit newspapers. One of his reasons for opposing this model is becuase it lacks accountability. 

Who would appoint the directors of the foundation? To whom would the foundation be accountable? To whom would the editors and reporters ultimately report—the foundation directors or the readers?

This concern only shows that the author – Jack Shafer – has little faith in nonprofits in general, not solely the prospects of nonprofit newspapers. Does he think that nonprofit organizations have no one in charge? That no person or group of people is responsible for their success or failure? As in a regular nonprofit organization, the editors and reporters would report to the foundation directors, who report to the organization’s Board Directors, who are representatives of the readers. 

Shafer’s other argument against nonprofit newspapers is equally unimaginative.

There’s also something disconcerting about wanting to divorce the newspaper from market pressures. (If I wanted that sort of news product, I’d watch The NewsHour.) Without some market discipline, how will a newspaper know whether it is succeeding or not[?]

Are you kidding me? Clearly a large hunk of the reason some people want nonprofit newspapers is exactly so that they would not define success by how many people want to read their news. While traveling in South Africa and Europe last summer, I was struck by some of the in-depth BBC stories from Mali, or India, or Mexico that simply would not have been covered by the mainstream American media, obsessed as it is with market standards of success.

Newspapers becoming nonprofits does not mean that all accountability and quality will immediately disappear. It means that excellence will be redefined based on the quality of the reporting and the significance of the stories covered. 

That doesn’t sound half bad.

Friday Brain Dump

Just wanted to highlight some things I’ve been thinking about.

  • Laurent Nkunda, the leader of the Tutsi rebel army in the Democratic Republic of Congo was arrested last night on the Rwanda-Conto boarder. Nkunda’s stated mission was to protect Tutsis in the region from Hutus who fled from persecution after the 1994 genocide in Rwanda. Though Nkunda has only leveraged control of a few villages in the months of his campaign against the Congolese government, he has spread terror and threatened an already unstable relationship between Rwanda and the Congo. There were even rumors that Nkunda was working with the Rwandan government, a thought that, if true, would throw the region into chaos. Hopefully, the arrest of Nkunda will ease those tensions and restore the peace process in this post-conflict region.
  • Caroline Kennedy drops bid for Hillary’s seat citing tax problems and a housekeeper malfunction. I really haven’t tuned in to the Kennedy saga. But now that it’s over, it all seems weak. And I am not thrilled about Kristen Gillenbrand (a moderate), Governor Patterson’s choice to fill Clinton’s seat. New York State does not necessarily need to elevate a moderate in order to win reelection in 2010. The state is as liberal as they come, so it deserves representatives who match that progressive spirit. (More on the new senators from NY, IL, and DE later this weekend.
  • The media decries the dearth of partisanship among Obama staff and officials. Omg and wtf. Then again, the blogosphere is basking in the change. So if liberal crazies are happy, it would follow that conservative wingnuts wouldn’t be.
  • I wanted to point out an op-ed by Muammar Quaddafi, the leader of Lybia, calling for a one-state solution in the mid-east under the name of Isratine. He’s got some pretty powerful and realistic ideas that call for sacrifices on both sides of the conflict, which is the only way we’ll get anywhere in the peace process.
  • The Maverick (McCain) is back? I guess its easy to have principles when no one is looking to you for leadership. (snap!)

Happy Friday.