Some document leaks are more equal than others in New York Times-land, as demonstrated by reporter Leslie Kaufman’s snooty story Monday on the latest installment of Climate-gate, “Police Inquiry Prompts New Speculation on Who Leaked Climate-Change E-Mails.”
Unlike the paper’s standard eagerness to splash sensitive diplomatic secrets on the front page during the Wikileaks saga, the Times took the side of government when it came to the still-unknown whistleblowers behind Climate-gate, which revealed the underhanded tactics used by “climate change” forces to squelch dissenting scientific views on global warming. Kaufman accused the Climate-gate leakers of trying to “undercut climate scientists.”
The text box put a favorable spin on the Climate-gate scandal: “A push to find out who tried to undercut scientists, who were later vindicated.”
For two years, the mystery has endured: who set out to undercut climate scientists by publishing more than 1,000 of their private e-mails on the Internet?
The original e-mails, released in 2009 on the eve of a high-stakes United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen, sowed doubts about the scientists’ research and integrity and galvanized skeptics who challenge the scientific consensus that global warming is under way. It set off six separate official inquiries, all of which cleared the researchers of scientific misconduct.
Then the controversy receded. Yet recently, speculation about the identity of the person who leaked the messages has surged with the release of new e-mails and signs that a police inquiry is under way in Britain.
In November, just before another major international climate conference opened, this time in Durban, South Africa, another round of e-mails between the scientists were distributed online. Like those released in 2009, they were part of a trove taken from a computer server at the Climate Research Unit of the University of East Anglia in England; as before, the e-mail hijacker alerted the public to the e-mails in comments posted on various blogs.
Yet the Times had no qualms about publishing excerpts from the stolen document dump from Wikileaks -- sensitive American diplomatic cables discussing nuclear and terror threats.
The paper demonstrated similar standoffish behavior during the first Climate-gate leak. In November 2009, former Times environmental reporter Andrew Revkin snootily informed readers of his nytimes.com blog that he would not be publishing the raw emails: "The documents appear to have been acquired illegally and contain all manner of private information and statements that were never intended for the public eye, so they won’t be posted here. But a quick sift of skeptics’ Web sites will point anyone to plenty of sources."