Amid all the hoopla over The Oklahoman editor Ed Kelley’s departure to The Washington Times, let’s not forget the terrible legacy he leaves on the editorial page at the state’s largest newspaper.
Small case in point: The newspaper published a short, editorial brief Saturday, June 18, 2011, that argues-in a typical, unsubstantiated and conspiratorial style-that recent “disguised” news stories had a hidden agenda when temperatures recently heated up.
Here it is in its entirety:
What’s new under the sun?
News stories about the weather these days often turn into thinly disguised polemics about global warming. It happened this month with a heat outbreak in the Southern tier states (including Oklahoma) and up the Eastern seaboard. This early summer heating is a taste of what we can all expect all the time in summers of the future, the storyline goes. So we were taken aback by a report in the Tulsa World last week that June of exactly 100 years ago had a heat wave that makes this one seem lame so far. Tulsa’s high temperature on June 10, 1911, was 108. The wave continued through June and into the middle of July, with day after day of triple-digit temps. Guess we can’t blame gas-guzzling autos or coal-fired power plants for that one.
First, this bit of inane snark has absolutely no supporting evidence. Why in the world can a large, metropolitan newspaper get away with a type of rhetorical laziness that would earn a college freshman composition student a failing grade? Here’s a question: What are the stories to which the newspaper refers? Second, even if it was true that stories are distorting the issue, which it isn’t, the fact remains leading scientists argue that it’s overall weather patterns that determine global warming, not a single event. That’s what matters.
And, third, and this is the editorial’s gigantic fallacy of omission, it fails to mention global warming contrarian U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe, whose family once built a faux igloo in Washington after a snow storm and hung a sign on it that claimed it was “Al Gore’s New Home.” Think about it. The state’s senior U.S. Senator’s family did exactly what this editorial criticizes and mocks, except with special theater and flair that drew national media attention, but the editorial doesn’t even mention it.
So, once again, global warming is happening. It’s real. The overall annual temperature has been rising for a long time, and the arctic ice cap is “rapidly disappearing,” according to scientific information published in National Geographic and a myriad of other publications. Let’s have a discussion about it without isolating one weather event as evidence of anything or making generalized unsubstantiated claims about the corresponding news coverage.
After all the accolades coming Kelley’s way this past week, it’s important to realize his assault on logic here is as much of his legacy as anything else. Undoubtedly, he’ll bring that same lack of logic, the same rhetorical fallacies and the same unsubstantiated reasoning to The Washington Times, and the newspaper will remain an oddity, but that’s no consolation for thinkers here. We’re still stuck with the house that Ed built. Remodeling time or a double down?