I tried to take the high road on Wednesday to get Don Shelby to do the right thing and retract his libels of The Heartland Institute at MinnPost.com. I’ve emailed Shelby twice, and left a comment beneath his blog post full of lies. Still nothing — and the blog comments are moderated, meaning they must be approved by someone, meaning he could not have missed it.
Shelby promotes himself as a respected and award-winning journalist. He brags of his two Peabody awards and 32 years as a reporter at WCCO (TV and radio) in Minneapolis. That resumé at MinnPost.com also includes a bit about his green-panic advocacy work:
He is a member of the Climate Science Rapid Response Team roundtable, serves on the boards of Minnesota GreenStar and the Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy …
So, it’s clear that Shelby is no longer a journalist, but an agenda-driven hack. I feel sorry for the people of the Twin Cities that such a sloppy reporter is so celebrated. In a screed against Heartland, the scientists who come to our climate conferences, and state Rep. Michael Jungbauer, Shelby can’t even get basic facts right about the IPCC — the agency that has received more coverage from environmental reporters than any other, with the possible exception of the EPA.
Here’s the screen-cap:
As I noted Wednesday, it’s the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, not “International.” That’s as stupid a mistake as a sportswriter not knowing what the NFL stands for. That screen cap above was taken at 10:30 a.m. CDT June 17, two days after the original mistake.
Yet by Friday night — as I complete tonight this post I started earlier today — I see that sometime after 10:30 a.m. CDT on June 17, Shelby corrected his gaffe about not knowing what the “I” stands for in IPCC.
However, unlike most reputable bloggers, Shelby does not mention anywhere in the blog that he corrected that error. A reputable blogger, let along an “award-winning journalist,” would correct his error like this:
Sen. Junbauer is fond of making pronouncements from on high regarding the scientific weakness of the United Nation’s [sic]
InternationalIntergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).
And, if he was sheepish enough, or had a sense of humor, he’d put an “oops” in there somewhere. (And I don’t mean to be a grammar cop. But that apostrophe error of “United Nation’s” is bush.) But I suppose Shelby is too
smug proud. He just erases it away. Happily, technology makes it harder to erase away errors.
But the fix of that minor error in the blog post suggests to me that Shelby is aware of my attempts to get him to correct the IPCC gaffe. And that suggests he has read my comment below his post or the two email messages I sent him — which included a request to correct the record on his other, more grievous errors about how Heartland is funded and what Fred Singer actually said.
Yet, despite this knowledge, Shelby has nothing to say. No acknowledgement that he’s been called out, let alone the proper retraction.
Like Shelby, I’m a seasoned journalist of “old media.” I know that mistakes in reporting are made. (And I know the previous sentence is in the passive voice.) I spent half my 16 years as an ink-stained newspaperman on the “straight news side” of the business, and the other half as an editorial writer and columnist. So I know the difference between an error of fact, and an “error of opinion.”
Shelby wrote that The Heartland Institute is “a fossil-fuel funded, conservative think-tank designed to protect the interests of oil and coal from government regulation.” That is not a statement of opinion from Shelby’s keyboard. That is his statement of fact. And it is not true. As I wrote Wednesday on this blog, and in an email to Shelby:
The Heartland Institute was not “designed to protect” anything but our liberties. Heartland was founded 27 years ago, before “global warming” was even an issue — and even that issue is but one of a dozen we address. Heartland has not received money from Koch or Scaife in more than a decade, and none from ExxonMobil since 2006 — all of which predates any association with Sen. Jungbauer we’ve enjoyed.
I suspect that Shelby did a Google search for Heartland and regurgitated the lies of our ideological enemies — the kind of resources members of “old media” normally (and often rightly) decry. That was a bad idea. Shelby could have called us, or gone to Heartland’s “about me” page to learn the truth. But that was apparently too much trouble for this award-winning journalist to endure.
And Shelby has still not corrected the lie that Heartland Senior Fellow Dr. S. Fred Singer, a distinguished scientist, “testified that smoking didn’t cause cancer.” Singer has never done that. It is a slur, and a libel, to suggest Singer ever said otherwise.
It is because of the above libels that I didn’t let go, as a professional courtesy, Shelby’s IPCC gaffe. Now that Shelby has refused to correct his significant errors of fact, I’m glad I didn’t — and that I kept the screen-cap.
Again, Mr. Shelby. Back to you. Are you a journalist, or a hack? What are your awards worth if you have such shoddy journalistic standards? We are Heartland are used to attacks. It’s to be expected when you engage vigorously in the arena of ideas. But libelous errors of fact are not tolerated.