Star Tribune draws GOP ire for "Science made a comeback at the State Capitol" lede
Is the lede a statement of fact or an editorial comment?
As a "down the middle" publication, does dinging legislators skeptical of climate change -- most of them Republican -- represent a breach of objectivity?
Today, the Star Tribune is taking heat from local Republicans for doing just that. Particularly controversial is the lede to a piece by Josephine Marcotty and Bill McAuliffe about the DFL-controlled legislature's promised effort to deal with climate change, which reads as follows: "Science made a comeback at the State Capitol on Tuesday." (A screengrab of the controversial lede is at top of this post.) The implication is that the voices of climate researchers haven't been taken seriously in the legislature, which was controlled by the MNGOP during the last biennium.
Some might argue characterizing Republicans in the legislature as having a track record of not being particularly concerned about the science of climate change is simply calling a spade a spade, but nonetheless, some current and former MNGOP officials are taking umbrage.
For example, check out this interaction between current Bobby Patrick, executive assistant to the MNGOP House Minority Leader, and Kevin Watterson, the former media director for the MNGOP House Caucus:
@rpatrickvi That's not a lede, it's the ag finance chair's talking point.-- Kevin Watterson (@kwatt) January 16, 2013
Also upset is Jonathan Blake, vice president of the Freedom Foundation of Minnesota and a former MNGOP finance director, who created an "OtherStribLeads" hashtag:
"Enlightenment and above-average intelligence are making a comeback at the Capitol following a two-year hiatus" #OtherStribLedes-- Jonathan Blake (@blakeffm) January 16, 2013
"Governor Dayton released a bold and ingenious proposal Tuesday to address the state's dangerously low taxes" #OtherStribLedes-- Jonathan Blake (@blakeffm) January 16, 2013
But the question remains -- are the Strib and other publications obligated to take climate change-denying statements seriously?
2012 was Minnesota's warmest year on record, and a new National Climate Assessment report predicts that average temperatures will rise by nearly 5 degrees between now and 2050. Here, via KARE, is what the report predicts about how increasing temperatures could affect Minnesota:
The draft report indicates the possibility of a shift in Minnesota's climate by almost 100 miles to the north. Such a change would alter the character of Minnesota's forests at the expense of species like birch and spruce in favor of oak. The growing season would be extended, but so would the likelihood of environmental problems like drought and floods. Lake temperatures would rise, including Lake Superior, making invasive species more possible.
Nonetheless, in the controversial Strib report, Rep. Joe McDonald, R-Delano, is quoted as saying: "There is science and experts, and then there is political debate."
"[O]n side questions the authenticity of global warming," McDonald continued. "How do you know, if we are looking at only 200 years?"
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