The Spokesman-Review


Smart Bombs: Lukewarm reporting

I often hear complaints of the media’s “alarmist” reports on global warming. U.S. Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., once said it was “the most media-hyped environmental issue of all time.” So, naturally, the new peer-reviewed study out of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that says the effects of global warming will accelerate faster than previously thought captured headlines across the nation and dominated TV news.

Not so you’d notice.

Here is the MIT news release: “The most comprehensive modeling yet carried out on the likelihood of how much hotter the Earth’s climate will get in this century shows that without rapid and massive action, the problem will be about twice as severe as previously estimated six years ago – and could be even worse than that.”

The study, published in the American Meteorological Society’s Journal of Climate, indicates “a median probability of surface warming of 5.2 degrees Celsius by 2100, with a 90 percent probability range of 3.5 to 7.4 degrees. This can be compared to a median projected increase in the 2003 study of just 2.4 degrees.”

The cap-and-trade bill being hammered out in Congress is based on the old projections, and even that legislation has been scaled back to lessen the impacts on states with an inordinate reliance on fossil fuels. Those compromises might get a bill passed, but the climate won’t acknowledge the give and take. It would be helpful if the media went to greater lengths to explain that.

It’s like the old joke about the doctor who gives a patient three months to live, and the patient replies, “But I won’t be able to pay the bill by then.” So the doctor says, “OK, make it a year.”

This just in . Headline at CNN: “Partisan confirmation hearings expected for Sotomayor.”

A political battle over a Supreme Court nominee? Never saw that coming.

The Stupid Review . Because the newspaper industry’s struggles are well-known, media critics often note that the perceived slight du jour is the chief reason for the decline. Whether it’s too much liberalism or conservatism or whether fill-in-the blank is being overlooked or emphasized, “it’s no wonder newspapers are failing.”

For people who think this way, it must be stunning. I mean, all we have to do is change one thing and the revenue will flow like the Spokane River in spring. Instead, media managers across the nation have whacked thousands of workers or cut pay or closed down operations, all because they refused to acknowledge that a particular critic was right about a specific complaint.

We’re that stupid.

This just in . Critics of Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor are calling her a judicial activist. More on this as it develops.

Smart Bombs is written by Associate Editor Gary Crooks and appears Wednesdays and Sundays on the Opinion page. Crooks can be reached at or at (509) 459-5026.

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