L.A. Times bans letters doubting climate change

L.A. Times bans letters doubting climate change

Global warming epic failBack when I was starting out in the editorial writing business in 1986 with the Washington Times, I also helped out on the letters page. I learned proper newspaper policy from William P. Cheshire, the editorial page editor. The policy was to allow a wide range of responsible opinions on the issues, especially from those who opposed the positions of our editorials.

When I signed on with the Orange County Register's Commentary section in 1987, that policy also was followed by editor Ken Grubbs, later by editor Cathy Taylor and by current editor Brian Calle. Brian also is our editor here at CalWatchDog.com, where we follow that policy. We cut out abusive or libelous posts, but otherwise give wide leeway to our commentators.

The idea is to encourage responsible debate in the community even on the most controversial issues.

That no longer is the policy at the Los Angeles Times' editorial page in its print edition. Poynter reported:

The Los Angeles Times will no longer publish letters from climate change deniers, Times letters editor Paul Thornton wrote earlier this month.

“Simply put, I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published,” Thornton wrote. “Saying ‘there’s no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

Thornton’s decision could well leave a few editors wondering if they should follow suit,” Graham Readfearn writes in the Guardian.

Elaine McKewon, the author of an Australian study of newspaper coverage of climate change, told Readfern she hoped the Times’ decision would give “other mainstream media outlets the courage to stop appeasing the climate denial noise machine.”

In the scientific community, the debate about anthropogenic global warming has been over for decades. The scientific consensus on climate change is as strong as the consensus on human evolution or the link between smoking and cancer.

The L.A. Times has apparently made no similar choices on online comments — Thornton’s piece is followed by hundreds of them, many of which are by people who don’t believe that humans cause climate change.

Well, at least they're allowing online comments against the “climate change” hypothesis — so far. But in the print edition, what they're doing is shutting out debate on an important issue. And the issue needs to be debated more than ever because there has been no global warming for the past 15 years, as was conceded recently even by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

Maybe that's just a fluke and the “warming” will resume next year. Then again, maybe we'll have global cooling, as was the scientific consensus back in the 1970s.

It's all worth debating. But won't be in the L.A. Times' print edition.

(h/t to Ken's post on this on Facebook.)


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