The New York Times Bites It With New Climate Denier Columnist

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The New York Times has a history of supporting a certain degree of climate change science denial, while at the same time supporting some very good journalism in this area. Just now, the Times jumped over one big giant shark by adding Bret Stephens to its opinion page staff.

Stephens comes to the Times from the Wall Street Journal, a Murdoch anti-science rag you are all familiar with.

In 2011, he wrote,

Consider the case of global warming, another system of doomsaying prophecy and faith in things unseen.

As with religion, it is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, it comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, its claims are often non-falsifiable, hence the convenience of the term “climate change” when thermometers don’t oblige the expected trend lines. As with religion, it is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other “deniers.” And as with religion, it is susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit.

“OK,” you say, “That was like six years ago. Maybe he stopped being a jerk since then.”

Nope. According to Joe Romm,

…in 2015, he wrote that climate change?—?along with hunger in America, campus rape statistics, and institutionalized racism— are “imaginary enemies.”

“OK,” you say, “That guy is even more of a jerk now than he was then!”


Romm also quotes climate scientist Michael Mann on Stephens’ hiring.

“sadly, the New York Times itself seems to have fallen victim to this malady, hiring one one of the most notorious climate change deniers, Bret Stephens, to promote climate denial propaganda on the once-hallowed pages of the Grey Lady.”

Media Matters has assembled a number of examples in which Stephens mislead readers on a number of matters including climate science. For example:

So global warming is dead, nailed into its coffin one devastating disclosure, defection and re-evaluation at a time. Which means that pretty soon we’re going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place.


As for the United States, Gallup reports that global warming now ranks sixth on the list of Americans’ top 10 environmental concerns. My wager is that within a few years “climate change” will exercise global nerves about as much as overpopulation, toxic tampons, nuclear winters, ozone holes, killer bees, low sperm counts, genetically modified foods and mad cows do today.

Something is going to have to take its place.

The world is now several decades into the era of environmental panic. The subject of the panic changes every few years, but the basic ingredients tend to remain fairly constant. A trend, a hypothesis, an invention or a discovery disturbs the sense of global equilibrium. Often the agent of distress is undetectable to the senses, like a malign spirit. A villain—invariably corporate and right-wing—is identified. [The Wall Street Journal, 4/6/10; Media Matters, 4/6/10]

My friends at DeSmog Blog, a central clearing house for information on climate science deniers, will probably do something as well. I’ll link to it here should that happen.

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43 thoughts on “The New York Times Bites It With New Climate Denier Columnist

  1. I just cancelled my NY Times account after reading of Bret Stephens’ hiring. They offered a 25% reduction in price, then a 50% reduction in price to stay with them. I made it clear Stephens’ hiring was the reason I was cancelling.

    I only had it to read Paul Krugman anyways and his columsn and blogs are quoted pretty extensively on the economic blogs I read.

    1. Kevin, honestly, I was really just about to subscribe to the NYT … ask anybody, I’ve been selectively subscribing to news media as a show of support under the Trump Regime. But I’ve cancelled my plans to subscribe to the NYT!

  2. Hmm. I subscribe to the NY Times and the Washington Post. The latter still runs columns from Charles Krauthammer and George Will, both elderly climate change deniers, though the Post hasn’t run any ‘skeptical’ columns of theirs for years, at least not that I recall. The NYT would put a lot of minds at rest if it publicly stated that Stephens will NOT be writing on climate, science, or the environment.

  3. So existing subscribers can cut their costs by half if they call in to cancel? I wonder if that would hold if everyone did it, or is there a limit. I remember when I called to cancel a different newspaper with this in mind, the guy said, “OK I’ve canceled your subscription.”

  4. The point of The New York Times is to get readers, and not having a single viewpoint on every issue would help. Wall Street Journal had Al Hunt for a long time. Fox News puts up some liberals, CNN hired a Trump booster and even his campaign chairman to provide some counterweight.

  5. ” and not having a single viewpoint on every issue would help”

    So there should be someone from ISIS to give a different viewpoint?

    I guess they should hire a paedo too to give a different viewpoint.

    And, this is a bit of a leap and MASSIVELY unlikely to go ahead, since this is the group so most heavily vilified in the USA, they should have an atheist write on Sunday about how that god shit is all bunk.

    Yeah, yeah, the last one is never going to happen. But you DID claim they had to have multiple views. Quite why wrong ones are acceptable can solely be due to your idiotic denial.

  6. I have subscribed to the NYT for many decades, and I think it silly to give up my subscription just because they hired a conservative. I disagree with Stephens on about everything, but his views are common in the country. He was probably hired mostly because of his hard line pro-Israel stance. It is tough for a NY newspaper not to have someone representing that view.
    I hope that the editorial page has some control over what is published there. Bombastic statements, with no effort to support them, probably will not fly.

  7. The viewpoint that climate change is not real is not something other than a single viewpoint. It is energy company right wing hippie punching propaganda. It is bullshit. I have no doubt that, for now, the NYT will argue that they want this “other point of view” but what they’ve really got is some dude who things he’s seen Bigfoot. Not another point of view. Bullshit.

  8. I for one welcome the decline in WSJ EdBoard idiocy intrinsic in Stephens removal to the Times, where he will paradxically moderate rather than exacerbate the existing problem of scientific partisanship.

    Will has l lost interet with age and where he fulmnates is a matter of diminishng concern- he miight actually consititute an improvement at Conde-Nast

  9. #10 – no one except guest commentators.
    #8 – it is traditional at old line newspapers to have a wide range of views on the editorial page.

  10. Pulitzer prize winner, anti-Trump conservative, sounds like something The New York Times might want.

    When was he hired? In a Google search, there is a link to his twitter dated Feb 18, 2017, labelling him with NYT.

  11. The NYT is a mixed bag, but they do a good deal of reasonable reporting on climate and science, and have half a dozen good reporters. All this circular firing squad stuff doesn’t help, my opinion. Best to fight from within. I’ve copied some materials from their “contact us” page and will paste it in a further comment. For climate news, you’re better off with the Washington Post or the Guardian, and these blogs.

    They often have comment sections, and the NYT commentariat is more progressive than the main paper. I’m not sure it’s particularly useful to comment, except as an outlet for frustration and writing exercise, but voicing objections is probably better than taking your toys and going home.

  12. NYT has a “fawning press release”. I don’t see how they could have considered hiring him, but it will be even harder for them to change their minds. Another deviant is Arthur Brooks, who comes in for special mention in Jane Mayer’s Dark Money as a star in the Kochtopus firmament: Opinion is supposed to be inclusive.

    James Bennet, who wrote this pukeworthy praisefest, replaced Andrew Rosenthal, is credited with revitalizing The Atlantic. The whole thing is curious.

    I’m posting this in batches. The next bit is some edited material about contacting NYT. Some of it came from here:

  13. Pasted material from two pages: (1) Share Your Feedback

    To send feedback to our newsroom’s leadership, email us.

    Journalistic Integrity and News Judgment: Our public editor, Liz Spayd, looks at issues of journalistic integrity and news judgment at The New York Times. You can reach her by email (twitter and her column)

    Submit to Our Editorial Pages
    – Send a Letter to the Editor:
    (there were instrux for OpEd etc. as well)

    Reach Our News Departments: To send feedback or story ideas to our news desks, email:
    National | Science (links on NYT page)

    Reach a Reporter: If you are using on a desktop or laptop computer, you can reach most reporters by clicking the byline of any article by that reporter. This will take you to a collection of that reporter’s articles, where you can click Email Author on the lower right side of the page.

    * (2) How to Submit a Letter to the Editor

    Letters should be exclusive to The New York Times or The International New York Times. We do not publish open letters or third-party letters.

    Letters should preferably be 150 to 175 words, should refer to an article that has appeared within the last seven days, and must include the writer’s address and phone numbers. No attachments, please.

    We regret that because of the volume of submissions, we cannot acknowledge unpublished letters other than by an automated e-mail reply. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified within a week. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

    To send a letter to the editor:
    (for readers of The New York Times)

    Additional Information
    To reach the public editor:

  14. Come on, let’s face it, the corporate media has been on an elite kick since the 1970s when the the rich and powerful began to really see democracy as a threat. The NY Times is no better. Look at its coverage of events leading up to the greatest crime of the 21st Century (so far), the illegal invasion and destruction of Iraq. Judith Miller channeled lies from the Pentagon directly to the Times and reported them as facts. Not a single editorial leading up to the invasion mentioned the two most important words, ‘international law’ or their twin, ‘UN Charter’. It is as if they didn’t exist. Without the cheerleading power of the allegedly ‘liberal’ media in the lead up to the invasion, including that by the Washington Post, the Iraq war would have been impossible. The corporate media made it possible. So why be shocked when the same media hires a climate change denier? Its par for the course.

  15. Thanks for the useful links and email addresses, Susan. Though the hiring decision has been made, readers and subscribers can at least make their views known about what the NYT should let Stephens write about under its masthead.

  16. I don’t know which is funnier, this or when National Organization for Women boycotted NYT because they ran ads with Rush Limbaugh.

  17. For someone who is supposed to be a “beautiful writer”, that there Bret Stephens, he sure don’t write all that gud. Here. I fixed his little piece on religion and climate for him…. like an editor might ……

    “As with religion, conservatism is presided over by a caste of spectacularly unattractive people pretending to an obscure form of knowledge that promises to make the seas retreat and the winds abate. As with religion, conservatism comes with an elaborate list of virtues, vices and indulgences. As with religion, conservatism’s claims are often obscurantist, hence the convenience of terms such as “ originalism ” when the work of arriving at a just interpretation of the law for the the people of the nation is “too hard” and when it might harm the selfish interests of the rich and powerful. As with religion, conservatism is harsh toward skeptics, heretics and other “deniers.” And as with religion, conservatism is highly susceptible to the earthly temptations of money, power, politics, arrogance and deceit. ”

    There. Ain’t that better?

  18. Climate change denialist are in the same same category as Holocaust denialists.
    They should not be given media space.

  19. A newspaper has the obligation to present a wide range of viewpoints — arguably, even viewpoints that clearly are nutty — in its editorial pages. There is always the risk that presenting nutty viewpoints will at some point lose the paper a good many subscribers. Most newspaper staffs understand this tradeoff and balance their mix of editorials accordingly.

    But hiring someone whose viewpoint is known to be nutty falls into a different category. The Boston Globe once had a science columnist who disputed the reality of climate change. I’ve forgotten his name, and I don’t follow the Globe so I don’t know if he’s still there. But if I subscribed to either newspaper I might well cancel over the hiring of such a person.

  20. >A newspaper has the obligation to present a wide range of viewpoints

    Yes, they have liberal opponents of Trump, moderate opponents of Trump, and conservative opponents of Trump.

  21. According to Media Matters, Bret Stephens has written, My wager is that within a few years “climate change” will exercise global nerves about as much as overpopulation, toxic tampons, nuclear winters, ozone holes, killer bees, low sperm counts, genetically modified foods and mad cows do today.

    He lists a scattershot assortment of things. Some are non-problems; others, like toxic shock syndrome, were serious problems that have been dealt with. I would expect anyone worthy of hiring by a great metropolitan newspaper to know the difference.

    Of course, recent history has shown that many newspapers have lowered their standards.

    Also, I am very curious whether Stephens has made a real wager by putting some of his own money behind his claim. If so, I might subscribe to the Times just in order to see him have to pay up.

  22. And, MikeN, if Bret Stephens’ views are being presented accurately, a conservative supporter of Trump — for that is what someone who thinks climate change is an illusion is likely to be.

  23. Chris, you may not have noticed, but some people find other aspects of Trump to be less than perfect. Bret Stephens is a NeverTrumper.

  24. “A newspaper has the obligation to present a wide range of viewpoints”

    No it doesn’t. This, like the ridiculous meme “corporations have to maximise shareholder value”, is wrong but parroted merely to “justify” the moronic desires of the speaker.

  25. MikeN has shown many times that he inhabits a different planet from the rest of us. Opponents of Trump? From the same paper that wrote a recent editorial claiming that by bombing Syria, Trump has proven that he “has a heart?” As long as Trump continues to support the military-industrial complex the NY Times will fawn over him. That any of the corporate media in the United States is ‘liberal’ is a well cultivated myth. All of supports US empire in its various guises. Friel and Falk wrote some books about the record of the NY Times on foreign policy, They set the record straight. On climate change the media may occasionally claim that its a problem but very seldom will they say what we should do about it. That is because the solutions conflict with the profit maximization agendas of media owners and corporate advertisers. Its all clearly evident if one reads Herman and Chomsky’s classic ‘Manufacturing Consent’.

  26. MikeN (#27): Bret Stephens is a NeverTrumper.

    You’re right. He’s been consistently blasting Trump all over the place, even in the Daniel Pearl Memorial Lecture (as reported by Time.)

    Also, he won a Pulitzer for his commentary in 2012. Maybe he’s not such a bad hire after all, from the NYT’s viewpoint.

    But he’s still wrong about climate change, and about claiming in his 2014 book America in Retreat that the U.S. had turned isolationist under President Obama.

  27. “It’s OK, Wow. I don’t like you either.”

    What? Where the fuck did that come from? It may be true you don’t like me, but “either”? And do you normally tell people that randomly on the internet????

  28. mikeN, how did you react to O’Reilly’s support for the firing of a George Mason employee who spoke out with concern over the influence of the hate group National Organization for Marriage? Did you ask “Why is conserative’s attitude to try and get people fired for saying something the disagree with?”

  29. Why is rigntwinger attitude to try and get people fired for saying something they disagree with?

    See Tomi Lahren (spelling may be off). See also ACORN.

  30. Dean, I didn’t react, since I didn’t watch OReilly very much in the last 15+ years, so I never heard of this. As you characterize it, I would be against it. Looking it up, it appears OReilly’s issue was that it was an admissions officer who would have such attitudes and be considering prospective students as ‘worthless pieces of trash’ for their views and would keep them out. It appears the GMU guy was misquoted by O’Reilly too.

  31. “Dean, I didn’t react, since I didn’t watch OReilly”

    Because you don’t mind when republicans do it, you just wanted to whine about it being theoretically done by liberals, and run the histrionics schtick.

    But, if you WERE being honest, this would have opened your eyes to your confirmation bias, where you only read about liberals doing it but don’t read about rightwingers doing it. Negating your cries it being a “liberal thing”.

    You didn’t.

    ” I would be against it”

    It’s still happened. There’s no “would” here. It has happened, ARE you against it? You would have said “I am against it” if you were. Again, yet more proof you are not against it, only wanting to complain about liberals.

    And, as with the attempts to get Mann fired, and his suit against his libellers, and with Ivanka’s suit against her libellers, you are busy making “reasons” why the rightwingers are right to do this, but never bothering with trying to make up a reason for those not of your political clique to do it, because you really would prefer just to complain and whinge.

  32. Actually my question about Melania was an attempt to equate with Mann. No one took the bait and said they were against Melania’s lawsuit though.

  33. Melania had an actual case – what the person wrote about her was wrong.

    Just as what was said about Mann’s work was blatantly false.

    And, as he did with every issue, O’Reilly was lying about the case.

    Here’s a clue: if O’Reilly says X is true you can be sure X is absolutely false.

  34. “Actually my question about Melania was an attempt to equate with Mann.”

    Ah, nope, you’re lying about what you said again, shithead.

    You made excuses and thought she was right but didn’t think Mann was, despite them both having the same valid reason.

  35. Wow #41:

    Melania won because her case settled.

    Mann’s case isn’t over yet.

    So we don’t know if Mann’s reason is “valid” yet.

    I think Mann will lose on the merits, which means I think his reason for suing isn’t “valid”.

    But justice is pretty slow and we are still waiting for the rehearing en banc motion on appeal and for the actual merits to be acted upon by the district court.

    So it is hard to equate the two cases until both are over (in my opinion).

  36. “Melania won because her case settled.”

    She didn’t win. I twas settled. No win or lose. Settled. Retard.

    “So we don’t know if Mann’s reason is “valid” yet.”

    Yes we do. It is.

    “I think Mann will lose on the merits”

    But that is a complete and utter ass-pull form you based only on what you want to happen, nothing else. Even the judges involved think it a shoe-in.

    You’re wrong.

    “So it is hard to equate the two cases ”

    No it is very VERY easy. You don’t want to because you hate Mann for being a scientist and showing evidence of AGW, and melania isn’t “a leftist” so you don’t care, even though the cases are identical in law.

    “in my opinion”

    Actually, no. Your opinion is that Mann will win, but you’re holding out for the really REALLY long shot, a’ la OJ Simpson. Hence your refusal to deal with reality.

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