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Hannity Uses Climategate Emails To Distract from Science Of Global Warming

Reported by Ellen - December 4, 2009 -

Like Fox News elsewhere, Sean Hannity has jumped on Climategate, in which the contents of some hacked private emails among climate scientists are being held up as some kind of proof that the entire science of global warming has been discredited. Rather than have a real discussion about climate science or even the substance of the emails, Hannity and Fox have relied on a few salacious excerpts followed by overblown conclusions that the emails prove that global warming is a hoax. Last night (12/3/09), Hannity hosted Fox’s fave global warming skeptic (and petroleum industry beneficiary), Chris Horner, as the sole guest to use the emails to denigrate global warming science discuss the issue. With video.

In one email excerpt that Hannity referred to, scientist Phil Jones talked about deleting emails “re AR4” (a climate change report, according to Hannity) supposedly in response to a Freedom of Information Act Request. Rather than discuss what the thrust of the entire email was, whether it showed that anything was really being covered up as a result of it, or even investigating how much of a cover up had actually occurred, Hannity’s producer put up on the screen the damning phrase, “Hide the evidence.” For all we know, the emails being deleted were full of false misinformation with faulty data. But let’s assume that Jones and his colleagues were deleting something they should not have or even that they were falsifying data. Does that mean that global warming is a hoax? Of course not. That would be like saying that because a couple of math teachers were caught cheating, that geometry is a hoax.

Hannity went on to quote one of the widely cited emails that other right wingers have used to supposedly “prove” that there has been some kind of hoodwinking going on. “I’ve just completed Mike’s nature trick of adding in the real temps for each series for the last years (ie from 1981 onwards)… to hide the decline.” As Media Matters has pointed out, “trick” in this context does not mean to deceive but a clever way of doing something. "Decline" refers to unreliable tree ring data, not actual global temperatures. But again, even if Jones were being deceitful, that does not mean the entire field is untrustworthy.

But Hannity needed no more proof that the entire science was a sham. “Could it be any more clear that these so-called climate scientists are hoodwinking the entire world community?” he asked. It was the same logic as when he recently used a poll showing Americans prefer the phrase “Merry Christmas” over “Happy Holidays” to claim that Americans think there’s a war on Christmas and want religious Christmas songs allowed in public schools.

Horner seems to specialize in snappy attacks on those who disagree with him and he wasted no time in delivering his zingers. “These are not revelations, they are affirmations of what a lot of us have been telling policy makers. There’s very dense smoke coming out of this fire.” Horner went on to suggest that activists are using global warming as a cover to advance socialism. “There are an awful lot of collectivists in the scientific world and the academic world.” He even took a swipe at Obama’s science advisor, John Holdren who is, Horner said, “if not borderline communist, communist.”

Waving his papers around with both hands, Hannity accused Democrats of wanting to focus on the fact that the emails had been hacked, “not the content.” Is there any limit to Hannity’s hypocrisy? There he was, focusing on a few excerpts of some emails rather than the content of climate change science.

Nor did Hannity discuss the fact that, as The Wonk Room noted, "Arctic sea ice is at historically low levels, Australia is on fire, the northern United Kingdom is underwater, and the world’s glaciers are disappearing. Oh yeah, and it’s the hottest decade in history."

I’m sure his dismissal of the fact that the emails had been hacked had nothing to do with the ridicule Hannity has received in the blogosphere over his hypocrisy for condemning the hacking of Sarah Palin’s emails while relishing the ones in Climategate. But, nonetheless, Hannity went on to defend his stance. “The issue here is different because there was a Freedom of Information Request. And apparently, they were not going to be forthcoming. Apparently, there was this well-orchestrated scheme, we can see in these emails, to hide the truth. So it seems like this is a very different story. This is more about a whistle-blower.” Translation: Hacked emails are OK when they come from an organization you don’t like and not OK when they’re from a politician you do like.

Horner readily agreed, claiming there was no evidence of a hacking and called such claims a “distraction from the substance” (as he, like Hannity neatly distracted from the substance of the actual science of and data about global warming). The audience was not told that the organization where the emails came from, the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, has described it as “a criminal breach” of their systems.

Hannity closed the segment by calling global warming “the biggest scientific fraud in our lifetime.” That's certainly not the overwhelming consensus of the scientific community, even after the release of the emails. But don’t expect any balancing view on the “fair and balanced” network’s Hannity show any time soon.

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