The University-Environmentalist-Media Complex

by Paul Chesser, Heartland Institute Correspondent on September 16, 2008

in Politics

Paul Chesser, Climate Strategies Watch

I was not surprised when I received documents from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science this week that showed a cozy relationship with their publicity arm at the Baltimore Sun. To remind you, over a month ago a report (PDF) with alarming supermodeled conclusions about future global warming in the state was leaked to the newspaper. A day after the Sun's unbalanced (after all, critics are only fringe "deniers") and strategically limited article (the UMCES leakers, as well as four environmental activist groups, were not identified), I requested immediately from UMCES a copy of the report that they had provided for the news story. UMCES's Dave Nemazie denied my request, stating it would be released publicly in conjunction with the Maryland Commission on Climate Change's recommendations in a few weeks. As I wrote at the time, this information that is the citizens' property was withheld from all but UMCES's compliant mouthpiece.

Well, I decided then to request under Maryland's Public Information Act all correspondence between UMCES and the Sun's reporters with regard to the alarmist report. The documents provided consisted of a string of emails (PDF), mostly between the Sun's environmental reporter Timothy Wheeler and UMCES's communications director Chris Conner. They begin with a request (at the end of the day on July 31) from Wheeler for graphics information based on the report, which likely followed a phone conversation the two had. Excerpts:

Wheeler: I have 2-3 specific graphics we'd like more on.

Conner (answered toward the end of the business day): Still here. Which ones do you need?

(Wheeler explains what he needs)

Conner: Thanks Tim. I'll add them to the list. BTW – when do you think it'll run?

Wheeler: Looking at this [weekend].

Conner: Thanks…I"ll get our graphics folks crackin.' (Within a half-hour Conner had the graphics Wheeler wanted (PDF), and Nemazie delivered them to him the following morning)

Wheeler: Great, thanks again, Chris. Since you're off tomorrow, is there someone I can be in touch [with]?

Conner: Please feel free to try me first — I'll have my cell and blackberry on me most of the day.

If I don't get back to you quick enough, please try Dave Nemazie at [number redacted by me, although I don't know why I'm being so nice]…

Wheeler: I'll try not to be too much of a noodge. Enjoy your day off.

Quite a contrast between that friendly exchange and the one I had with Nemazie. Quite a difference between the obvious service-with-a-smile from Conner, who bent over backwards to deliver everything Wheeler wanted within hours so as to get their friendly story out, compared to how Nemazie responded to me when I simply requested a copy of the report. And it's quite impressive that the Sun published its story so quickly — on Sunday, August 3, following rapid-fire information exchanges that started only Thursday — and so helpfully (to UMCES) omitted the fact that far-left enviro groups both co-wrote (World Wildlife Fund and National Wildlife Federation) and funded (the Town Creek Foundation and the Keith Campbell Foundation for the Environment) the report.

The Axis of Weasels named in the title of this blog post have become so predictable that they make my job way too easy, but I do appreciate that they help keep me employed.

Update 5:10 p.m.: It was brought to my attention that Wheeler is president of the Society of Environmental Journalists, where the extent of reporting balance among their members is to track down those who fund global warming skeptics but ignore the overwhelming amount of government and leftist dollars that pay for alarmist research.

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