What kind of mother takes her baby to a conflict zone where rocks and bullets are flying and tear gas chokes the air?
Why, a Palestinian mother like the one pictured weeping over her dead baby in lots of newspapers today. (Including, I note, the former conservative imprint the Daily Telegraphwhich has put it on the front page…)
“Palestinian officials said the baby died in an Israeli tear gas attack, a claim disputed by Israeli forces” says the Telegraph.
But if a picture is worth a thousand words then that caption is meaningless.
All most people are going to see is a pretty young mother, flanked by two older female relatives, desperately hugging the shrouded corpse of her baby.
What are we to make of this?
Well it’s theoretically possible, I suppose, that everything the Palestinian propaganda industry is telling us is true: that this young woman called “Mariam” just happened to be innocently wandering past with her eight-month-old Leila al-Ghandour when, lo!, the evil Israelis struck with their wanton tear gas and poor Leila died.
Here is what the Chancellor of Britain’s University of Kent thinks about Breitbart.
Völkischer Beobachter was, of course, the house newspaper in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s of the NSDAP – aka the Nazi party. So what Esler is doing here in his not-so-subtle way is accusing Breitbart of being a Nazi publication.
Yes, part of me thinks: so what? Angry leftists are forever accusing people who disagree with them of being Nazis; and of course in Breitbart’s case the charge is especially absurd given that Breitbart’s founder and CEO (together with several senior editors) is Jewish, that the site is pro-Israel, pro-freedom-of-speech, pro-property-rights, pro-free-markets, pro-civil-liberties, pro-democracy – none of which policies would have found much favor with the Nazis.
But as a fellow journalist I feel about as much sympathy for him as I do for all those idiot jihadists who go out to fight in Raqqa and Mosul, lured by the cool videos of the beards, black flags, and AKs with the wailing soundtrack. Did they seriously imagine when they joined ISIS/CNN that it was all just going to be about the glamour and the hot chicks and the purity of the noble cause?
And I’m really not being high minded here. It just seems to me that one of the most basic, entry-level precepts that any serious news organization ought to be observe – and that CNN most patently never has observed, or not for a very, very long time – is this:
Facts are sacred. The truth always makes the best story. You do not make shit up.
Not only ought this stuff to be obvious, but it ought to come instinctively. Isn’t the whole attraction of joining an unglamorous, overworked, underpaid trade like journalism that you want to discover the truth about the world: all the stuff that they would rather you didn’t know?
That’s certainly been my own experience in the last few years covering the climate change/enviro-lunacy beat. I’ve never much enjoyed all the flak I’ve got from the left-wing media; still less have I liked being rejected by so many friends. But the thing that has kept me going through the hard times is that I know I’m doing good and making a real difference: there are some devious bastards out there doing terrible stuff and I’m exposing their knavery and holding them to account.
For any self-respecting journalist, I’d call that “job done.”
Sometimes I get asked by people on the other side of the argument: “What if you’re wrong?”
Here’s the first thing I’ll do if I’m wrong about climate change. I’ll write a big piece explaining why I’m wrong. Then I’ll find someone who is prepared to pay me for writing the opposite of what I do now.
This isn’t because I’m a moral paragon. It’s because I’m lazy and because I prefer the easier life: writing journalism where you have to keep making up your “facts” is much, much harder than doing what I do now, which is basically, copying out true facts and then adding a few nice adjectives and thinking up a snarky final sentence.
That said, I would have to concede that this is much easier to do if you’re politically on the right rather than on the left.
Margaret Thatcher once said “The facts of life are conservative.” And as in so many things, she was absolutely spot on. This, as you can imagine, makes life very, very difficult for people in the overcrowded left-wing media. (It’s overcrowded because so many journalists think they’re left wing).
Every day, they wake up to a world where: Israel is the only functioning democracy in the Middle East with the best human rights record; socialism is failing everywhere it is being tried from Venezuela to North Korea; the worst, most fascistic acts of violence and intolerance are being committed by left-wing people calling themselves “anti-fascists”; Islam is not a “religion of peace”; Trump is doing a great job as president — way, way better than his predecessor Obama; man-made climate change is the biggest scam in the history of science, politics, or economics…
And somehow they’ve got to construct stories demonstrating the opposite because it’s what their dumb-assed audiences want to hear.
How, if you’re running a left-wing media organization, do you reconcile this yawning gulf between the facts on the ground and your preferred political narrative?
Simple: you remake the world so that black is white and white is black; you create your own facts.
If there’s a thing the climate alarmists loathe more than almost anything, it’s being schooled on science by an English major who last used a bunsen burner in anger around the time Kajagoogoo were in the Billboard Hot 100, was always really quite crap at growing copper sulphate crystals, and who, in any case, doesn’t take any of the PhDs who bang on about “global warming” nearly as seriously as they’d like to be taken because he thinks they’re a bunch of liars, incompetents, green activists, money grubbers and grant troughers on the make who have about as much to do with the scientific method as Bill Nye’s left testicle.
So naturally, whenever I come up with another hugely popular (over 32,000 Facebook shares; over 10,000 comments) science-based demolition of the climate scam, the Greenies get angry. Incredible Hulk, angry. What they’d like to do, ideally, is come up with some kind of widely-read uber-rebuttal which proves once and for all that James Delingpole is the lyingest liar that ever lied about science and that Breitbart is totally evil and irresponsible (and lying, obviously) for publishing his mendacious dross.
Tragically, about the best they can ever manage is stuff like this.
It comes from a site called Climate Feedback, an entity set up last year at the height of the left’s “fake news” witch hunt, hosted and primarily funded by the University of California Merced’s Center for Climate For Communication – ie your tax dollar at work… – and describing itself as a “Signatory” of something called “International Fact-Checking Network.”
It purports to be a thoroughgoing and damning scientific rebuttal to my Breitbart piece, written by expert PhDs.
There’s just one problem with it.
It doesn’t actually rebut anything I said in my piece.
This is why I ignored the politely passive-aggressive message I got from Climate Feedback requesting that I “issue a correction” to my article. Well sure. I’d love to oblige since you ask so nicely. But how exactly do you issue a correction to an article which doesn’t actually contain any errors?
Jessop has done what the Climate Feedback PhDs should have done but so signally failed to do: she actually read my piece.
She understood that my headline was a bit naughty – ‘Global Warming’ Is A Myth Say Scientific Papers In 2017 – not because it was untrue but because it is heavily dependent on a very specific definition of the phrase ‘Global Warming.’
This I proceeded to explain in the body of the piece:
By “global warming” these papers don’t, of course, mean the mild warming of around 0.8 degrees Celsius that the planet has experienced since the middle of the 19th century as the world crawled out of the Little Ice Age. Pretty much everyone, alarmists and skeptics alike, is agreed on that.
Rather, they mean “global warming” in the sense that is most commonly used today by grant-troughing scientists, and huxter politicians, and scaremongering green activists, and brainwashed mainstream media (MSM) environmental correspondents. “Global warming” as in the scary, historically unprecedented, primarily man-made phenomenon which we must address urgently before the icecaps melt and the Pacific islands disappear beneath the waves and all the baby polar bears drown.
What all these papers argue in their different ways is that the alarmist version of global warming — aka Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming (CAGW) — is a fake artefact.
Actually there is one mistake in the piece. Carried away by the flow of my invective, I spelt “huckster” wrong. But apart from that it’s bang on the money. Catastrophic Anthropogenic Global Warming theory really is a busted flush – and has been for many years. Almost all the scientific evidence indicates that this is so.
Let me reiterate why very simply in a way you really don’t need a PhD to understand.
We know that since about 1850 global mean temperatures have risen by about 0.8 degrees C. According to anthropogenic global warming theory, a significant proportion of this has been caused by industrial – ie man-made CO2 – and we should be worried about this because man has never been able to influence climate in such a way before.
But we also know that there have been times throughout history – both in the fairly well-documented last two millennia, and also much further back – when temperatures rose and fell by at least this much, sometimes in a shorter space of time.
Given that this is so, how can we be sure that the most recent rise is down to man-made CO2 when all the previous ones in history weren’t?
This is one of the key planks in the argument used by climate skeptics when criticizing man-made global warming theory. It’s not that they doubt the possibility that man-made CO2 might be a factor in global warming. Rather, it’s simply that they have yet to see convincing evidence that proves beyond all doubt that this is the case, let alone that these modest recent increases in global temperature represent any kind of problem.
Breitbart is a “very extreme right” organization that pumps out “fake news” but has no impact in the real world because it is ignored by the mainstream media.
I learned this from a Berkeley professor of linguistics called George Lakoff who was given space by the BBC to spout his views, virtually unchallenged, for half an hour this week on a Radio 4 programme called Word of Mouth.
Lakoff was introduced as an “eminent linguist” at the “forefront of the debate.” But no indication was given by the presenter Michael Rosen that he is, in fact, a left-wing professor from a left-wing university best known for writing left-wing books about how awful conservatives are and, most recently, for his vocal opposition to Donald Trump.
Perhaps this is because Rosen is left-wing himself.
As I’ve argued over similar issues before, none of this would matter a damn if Radio 4 were a commercial channel paid for by advertising or a subscription channel for smug liberals who wanted none of their prejudices challenged.
But Radio 4 is neither of those things. It’s a branch of Britain’s state broadcasting arm, the BBC — an organization funded by a compulsory subscription fee which all users are obliged to pay on pain of imprisonment. While it’s true that you don’t need a TV license to listen to the radio, it’s also true that Radio 4 is a long-established beneficiary of the BBC’s quasi-monopolistic domination of Britain’s airwaves. It has virtually no competition in the field of spoken-word features on the radio, firstly, because it has dominated the medium for so long and secondly because it is so massively subsidised (hence the lack of irritating adverts!), it would be virtually suicidal for any commercial venture to try to compete with it. In return for this extremely privileged position—which ought, by rights, to have long since been withdrawn by anti-monopoly regulators — it is obliged under the terms of the BBC’s charter to produce output that is rigorously fair and balanced.
This is why we should get cross: not because nasty, horrid, untrue things were said about Breitbart, but because nasty, horrid, untrue things were said about Breitbart by an organization wearing the mantle of authority and the mask of objectivity.
Facebook just put me on the naughty step for a piece I wrote defending the future Rector of Glasgow University. (aka Milo).
I’d love to repost it here so that you can see how harmless it was, how totally not in breach of a single one of Facebook’s “Community Standards”. But because Facebook deleted it before I could save it you’re just going to have to take my word that it did not contain “direct threats”, encourage “self-injury”, promote “dangerous organizations”, enable “bullying and harassment” or involve any “attacks on public figures”. Nor did it engage in “criminal activity”, “sexual violence and exploitation” or have anything to do with “regulated goods”.
Well, it certainly makes a nice change from the usual tired old tricks deployed by the alarmist establishment — the ad hominem, the Appeal to Authority, etc. And it seems to have been quite effective, too: for a while yesterday, Weather Girl Kait’s attack was the number one item on Reddit, and I’ve received several tweets from impressionable SJW types brimming with righteous indignation at my climate-denying ignorance. Also, I know that several other organisations — including AOL — are keen to join Parker in sticking the boot in. This I find very flattering, because when the liberal media joins forces to try to humiliate you, it means they consider you a very powerful threat.
But I do wish Kait hadn’t got involved, for I fear I’m going to have to be very ungallant by revealing her entire argument to be fatally flawed.
Here’s our Editor-in-chief Alexander Marlow, putting that detail right: “This is not a Breitbart video. It’s provided by and placed by a third party video vendor. The Weather Channel should chill out.” More precisely, none of Breitbart’s editors made the choice or performed the action of sticking the Weather Channel’s video on the article.
And yes, indeed, the Weather Channel should chill. And, better still, stick to its day job and actually report on the weather rather than engaging in agenda-driven politics. This is an argument the Weather Channel is not going to win, and whoever put poor Kait Parker up to this ridiculous, embarrassing stunt should be ashamed of themselves. It is going to backfire horribly, as I’m about to demonstrate.
Before we move onto the threadbare science in Parker’s arguments, let’s just first marvel at the way she has tried to blame Breitbart for something it did not do.
Though we would prefer to focus on our usual coverage of weather and climate science, in this case we felt it important to add our two cents — especially because a video clip from weather.com (La Niña in Pacific Affects Weather in New England) was prominently featured at the top of the Breitbart article. Breitbart had the legal right to use this clip as part of a content-sharing agreement with another company, but there should be no assumption that The Weather Company endorses the article associated with it.
And her point is what, exactly? As she herself admits here, “Breitbart had the legal right to use this clip as part of a content-sharing agreement with another company.” So she understands the deal: it wasn’t Breitbart’s conscious decision to use that particular video. Rather, the video was put up there by a third party with a view to promoting the work of the Weather Channel by bringing it in front of a wider audience.
If the Weather Channel doesn’t want access to Breitbart’s 45 million global readership, then that is the Weather Channel’s loss, not Breitbart’s. Perhaps it fancies being the meteorological equivalent of Kellogg’s. Well, good luck with that.
Even more bizarre is Parker’s accusation that her clip is being used by Breitbart to “mislead Americans.” How exactly? The clip, as it happens, shows Parker talking about how the cyclical Pacific Ocean event known as La Niña is going to result in a colder-than-usual weather in the US — “in the North East you might get more of that cold air all the way through spring.”
So she’s actually agreeing with what Breitbart said in the article: that La Niña effect has been causing temperatures to drop dramatically. Apparently, in Parker’s view, it’s OK when meteorologists who believe in “global warming” say this stuff. But it’s not OK when a sceptical website like Breitbart says it.
The Donald’s disbelief in global warming is not some wind-up stunt: it’s going to be a core part of his programme.
So I made £250 betting on Trump to win the presidency. It would have been more, except that every time I got close to topping up my stake, this boring, mimsy, responsible voice in my head kept saying: ‘Now, now James. Don’t be silly. All your sensible friends who know much, much more than you do about politics have been telling you that President Trump just isn’t going to happen.’
One of them was m’learned colleague Toby Young. Until recently we used to do a podcast together. Because it was partly aimed at a US audience, we’d usually chat about the presidential race and I’d go into my crazy spiel about why Trump was the only sane choice; and Toby would patiently explain how silly this was because Trump wanted to disband Nato and we’d probably end up with the third world war.
Toby has now got himself a proper job (working for an education charity), as have most of my journalistic contemporaries. Of late, I’ve begun to feel like the pilled-up, grey-haired rave casualty on the dance floor who hasn’t quite accepted that the party’s over. There I am, persuading myself that I’m the last of the breed, fearlessly relaying truth to power when all the rest have fled the field. But maybe the truth is — or so I’ve sometimes wondered in my darker moments — that I’m just a puerile contrarian raging against reality, when what I should really have done is embraced Remain and rooted for Hillary, like all my more sophisticated friends at places like the Economist, the Times and the Financial Times.
Instead, look at what happened! No, I can’t believe it either — it feels so weird and unnatural I almost want a rerun. Not only was I in the journalistic minority of being right about Brexit, but I was in the even tinier minority of being right about Trump. Maybe it wasn’t such a totally lunatic thing taking that contract with Breitbart, after all.
Breitbart, as you’re probably now aware, is the right-wing US website which can more or less claim ownership of Donald Trump’s victory. Until last week, they were derided by the left-liberal media as being quite beyond the pale of civilised discussion because of their shockingly rude stories about feminists and Islamists and Black Lives Matter activists. Even one or two conservative friends advised me that I’d be tainting myself by association with such a fringe organisation.
What I replied to these kind friends was: ‘One — you clearly don’t understand what’s happening to the media. Fat fees and fantastical expenses have gone. To earn a living you have to go where the money is. And increasingly that ain’t on what’s left of Fleet Street.