Saturday, December 05, 2009

Video: On CBC's Power and Politics

Every Friday, CBC's Power & Politics show has a bloggers panel. This week, I was invited to participate in the panel along with conservative blogger Adrian MacNair, CBC resident blogger extraordinaire Kady O'Malley, and of course host Evan Solomon.

I've done some radio stuff before, and I did one taped interview for CTV Newsnet during the Liberal convention in Montreal, but this was my first time with live tv and I was rather nervous. I always like to joke I have a face for radio and a voice for print.

It was an interesting experience. It was done by satellite with Adrian in Vancouver, and Evan and Kady in Ottawa. So I rushed home to shave and change (decided against a tie because, after all, I'm a blogger) and headed downtown to the Mother Corp. HQ on Front Street. A producer brought me in through the halls I recognized from Ken Finkleman's The Newsroom, and into the non-fictional CBC newsroom, where the shoot the satellite pieces.

It's an interesting set-up. At one end of the large, open-concept room there's a little raised platform with a camera and two chairs, that's where they shoot the pieces. And around us, the producers and journalists were at work. I had some time to kill so I took a seat in the newsroom and had a look around. I think they were working on that night's The National beside me, they were watching a live closed-circuit feed of the Montreal/Boston game, and Wendy Mesley came by to check in with them.

When the time for my segment approached I sat in the large chair and they wired me up with an ear piece and mic. It was a little weird because you're told to look directly into the camera and pretend the person you're talking to is there, but you can't see anything there, it' a blank screen. So it's hard to feel like you're really talking to someone. There's a monitor off to the left, but if you look at it you're looking off camera and appear shifty. The camera guy actually tilted the monitor away from me to I guess help me resist temptation, but I still looked over when I was off camera to try to feel a little more comfortable. I think it would be a lot more fun to do it with the other guests in studio.

Content-wise, the segment felt like it went pretty fast, and I think it went alright. I was rather nervous and felt I didn't remember to make all the points I wanted, and I feel I didn't do a good job of what they primarily wanted: talk about how the blogs have shaped the two issues we were discussing, the climate change e-mails and the Afghan torture documents.

On the e-mails, the point I tried to make was that, first of all, I doubt any of the bloggers going crazy on both sides have actually read all 3000 pages of e-mails. Those I've read that have, and considered them in context, conclude there isn't much at all to this story. But by and large, this is red meat for the deniers and a few bad pr days for supporters. But at the end of the day, climate change denial is no longer a mainstream position. There is broad societal acceptance that climate change is real, and we need to act. There is disagreement on what the action should be, for sure. But even the Conservative government agrees climate change is real. Denial is an increasingly fringe position, and no coordinated campaign to hack climate scientists around the world to steal e-mails is likely to change that. But the blogs do give these groups the opportunity to spread their theories and find like-minded supporters, and spread their views with or without the MSM.

On the torture e-mails, on this one I don't think the blogs have been necessarily active in shaping the story. There have been cases where the media have ignored a story for whatever reason, and after much publicity on the blogs they were forced to cover it. In this case though, the media and the blogs have both been all over it from the start. The blogs have been doing some good watchdog work though -- they were all over Christie Blatchford -- and have been helpful tracking the shifting changes in Conservative positions from day to day and keeping things in context. That's perhaps the best difference blogs can make: they can be more analytical and big picture. The MSM tend to focus on spot news without considering the wider context.

Things seemed to veer off there when Adrian took what seemed to me a shot at Kady's journalistic ethics, which naturally Kady and Evan took exception to and led to a spirited back and forth while I watched a little incredulous from Toronto, pondering if I should have prepared an attack line against my hosts (maybe something like "Evan Solomon, Don Newman was a way snappier dresser!").

I thought Adrian was off-base. The climate gate nonsense has gotten plenty of media play, certainly more than it deserves. To compare it to the torture e-mails is a false comparison. The torture story speaks directly to the behavior of the Canadian government, and has wide-ranging consequences for both the government and our mission in Afghanistan. The climate story may impact support for stronger action on climate change going into Copenhagen, but that's debatable. And while the people pushing the e-mail story insist it's the scandal of the millennium or something, they're unable to prove their case definitively. So instead, they play that favourite tool of the right: blame the media.

Finally, we ended with the sites of the week. I picked The Pundit's Guide, great non-partisan site for tracking party nominations, and for analysis and data on party fund raising and spending. Adrian went with the Canadian Blog Awards (where I'm nominated for Best Political Blog, btw, if you'd like to go vote early and often) and Kady went with Wikileaks.

Without further ado, the video:

Recommend this Post on Progressive Bloggers


The Pundits' Guide said...

I will say, Jeff, that I'm concerned about the fact that the original raw climate data was destroyed, leaving only the adjusted version available for peer scientific review. It's also troubling the lengths the scientists in question went to, in order to skew the peer-reviewed science process.

I haven't reviewed the entire documentary evidence myself, but researchers I respect have been raising alarm bells with me about the lack of "data integrity" being reported in the CRU's datasets (this is a term with a very specific meaning in relational database world, and has to do with the ability to enforce referential integrity between related tables), along with the extent of contortions being attempted to clean the data.

The scientists are supposed to be the ones who can take on those they disagree with, using data and logical arguments. Attempting to use their influence to silence those dissenters instead does not make for as strong argumentation on their part. I believe that's been harmful to the realm of scientific inquiry and research.

That said, as I understand it, there are two other significant datasets whose origin and analysis are not currently under a similar cloud. And thank goodness for that.

Thank you again for your citation yesterday, and best of luck in the Canadian Blog Awards.

Jennifer Smith said...

I'm proud of you, man. Not many of us would be brave enough to put our mugs on national television, and you pulled it off like a pro. I'm sure they'll be calling you back.

Adrien... not so much.

RuralSandi said...

You did pretty good. I find segmants like this are too short to really get into any discussion.

Adrian - came off as a shallow whiner playing the victim card.

Alot of what happens and the quality of the discussion is related to how well the interviewer does - Solomon does't cut it.

Skinny Dipper said...

I think Adrian and other bloggers must know that each medium interprets stories differently. Television is visual while blogging is still largely text based with some still pictures, graphics, and small-format videos. Balloon-Boy and Tiger Woods are visual. These stories make great television. The so-called "Climategate" event is textual at first. It's not appealing to television unless there are reactions from well-known Canadian politicians and other public figures.

Two years ago, Ontario had a referendum on voting reform. This did not get covered much in the media. The actual documents related to voting reform do not make for great television, radio, or newspaper coverage. What can make it great are people's reactions to the documents and their beliefs on voting reform. Important people's thoughts make the topic more interesting. The referendums in Ontario and BC received lots of coverage in the blogosphere. However, very few people read blogs compared to watching television, reading the newspaper, or listening to the radio. It doesn't mean that blogging is not important. Bloggers can help set the direction of debates as is evident by the "Climategate" event. Television just needs the visuals to make this appealing to viewers.

wilson said...

first comment is from a source you recommend,
and they too are concerned about the corrupted and destroyed data!

Libloggers and CBC ignoring this story will not make it go away.

Jeff said...

pundit, the allegations of data destruction do seem concerning, I agree. I want to hear more about why it was done, is this normal or abnormal, and what impact could it have had on these particular scientists' research.

Nevertheless, even if a few scientists at one research potentially did something wrong, that's something the checks and balances in the system will sort out. And I don't think it changes the overwhelming body of evidence that climate change is real, and action is necessary.

Thanks Jennifer and Sandi.

Skinny, the nature of the mediums is a good point. I think the audiences are as well. Blog audiences are still rather insular, but they do bring communities of interest together, and if critical mass is achieved, the media cross-over effect can move the narrative, I believe.

wilson, I don't know if you appreciate the irony of accusing libloggers and the cbc of ignoring the story while commenting on a cbc piece discussing the story posted on a liblog. I assure you though, I definitely appreciate the irony.

Barcs said...

"I want to hear more about why it was done, is this normal or abnormal, and what impact could it have had on these particular scientists' research."

Destroying data in the scientific community is definitely abnormal. rarely if ever done even on disproved theroys (witness university librarys for example with floors upon floors of scientific journals). Destroying a data set that the pinnacle of current science is based upon is unheard of.

Criminal charges should be laid, (just based on the cost to society and science itself let alone the fraud allegations from critics). And the persons who did it should be banned from any scientific group for life.

"that's something the checks and balances in the system will sort out." - there is no checks and balances when there is no original data to check. That's part of the reason for the outrage. A decade of science based on it... is worth about as much as goin down to the coffee shop to talk to the boys.

As for the tv clip. You did pretty well. It is very hard to stand up infront of a group to speak. As for on camera, sitting by yourself, I think that would be terrifying. I don't think you could calm yourself down by picturing the camera naked. Kudos to you for doing the panel. :)

maryT said...

The problem is that the info from this one source was the basis for a lot of other info, and was used to prepare the IPPC report.
Remember all those experts predicting another ice age back in the 80s. With all the global warming in my yard today, I think they are being proven right.
It takes about 20 years for any scam, prediction whatever to be debunked.

Frankly Canadian said...

Good Job Jeff, at the end of the day the facts remain, that global warming is taking place, and that we all need to do what we can to reverse these effect. As for the comment you made with regards to "it is only a few fringe groups who want to deny that", I hope your right, I heard somewhere last week that almost thirty percent of Canadians do not believe that humans are responsible for global warming, if true that is scary, considering what the rest of the world believes. Anyways you did well and I hope we will see you again often on that show.
P.S. It was comical to see the true colours of the conservative mentality (attack, attack, attack), good thing Kady knows what she’s talking about and she had the chance to defend herself.

Skinny Dipper said...

I should have congratulated you on your appearance.

King of the Paupers said...

Jeff Jedras says Man Made Climate Change Deniers are fringe.
He's with the majority of the herd of dumb animals.

Katalyst said...

Here's the problem. All of the original data could never exist today. A lot was on analog tape storage, and wouldn't exist anymore even if kept, because, as a storage medium, tapes degrade. So, even if the exact data existed in digital form, the same culprits would be arguing that we can't verify if the information was copied correctly.

All of this has been published in peer review for ages, which just goes to show how much these people are actually are paying attention to the science. The original data is not needed because the translated data had long been validated.

Remember, these denialist are in the industry of creating doubt, not about getting at the truth.

A bunch of scientist being upset about a reputable journal suddenly publishing junk and discussing what to do about it hardly qualifies as any conspiracy theory to manipulate results. Indeed, if you actually read the emails, they cease bitching and complaining and get down to business between themselves and debate the problems with the paper in question. This is not at all troubling.

Two papers they were discussing actually went into the IPCC stream, were discussed, and rejected by the IPCC. This is all published. The conspiracy-minded denialist frame this as proof that the process is political. Could it not be instead that the papers were crap?

The institutions behind these papers are private conservative/libertarian propaganda mills like The Fraser Institute, which have no accountability to us, and yet claim to be concerned about accountability in climate science.

I'd love to see 10 years worth of private emails from the Fraser institute, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, the Cato Institute, the Heartland Institute and so on. Quid pro pro.

CanadianSense said...

Jeff Jedras

I am sorry you have decided to refuse an open debate by calling us skeptics "deniers".

Can you imagine someone calling you a "nazi" or a "racist"?

In the next few weeks and months this may play out differently than the AGW proponents had intended.

I will only suggest one link, a Canadian who was repeatedly named in the emails and prevented from examining the data.

Contain links to boths sides.

rob said...

I am sorry you have decided to refuse an open debate by calling us skeptics "deniers".

Can you imagine someone calling you a "nazi" or a "racist"?

Can you think of any differences between the term "denier" and the terms "Nazi" and "Racist" that may not make them equivalent?

I would also like to note that my word verification word was "deceasid," which seemed a bit dark.

lyrical said...

It's interesting that when it comes to climate change denial, everyone's an expert. Climate change has to be treated like gestation. You can't be a little bit pregnant.

Now that offices are being broken into in Canada, there needs to be more focus on who is paying people to do the raiding.

Mark Richard Francis said...


Calling denialists that is like calling someone a nazi? You have to be kidding.

No, you're not. Wow.

McKitrick is well known. He is a Fraser Institute hack who writes junk science. He did have a paper get into the IPCC review, and was dealt with accordingly.

Some of his links are hilarious. For example, "The Friends of Science" is a oil and gas funded propaganda mill. It claimed that it wasn't funded by the oil and gas industry, but in 2007 the G&M exposed that it was being funneled money from the oil and gas industry through a foundation at the University of Calgary. But don't worry, they are back, making the same claim that they are now 100% oil-free. Their star? Tim Ball, a discredited hack, who sued a professor for libel, as the professor published the truth about Tim Ball's highly embellished CV. Ball dropped the suit without settlement, and lay low for a while.

On Tim Ball:

McKitrick and his sometimes partner McIntyre has a propaganda angle that they've played for years where they demand specific data from scientists (like Briffa) even knowing that the scientists can't hand over the agreement ad they are not the owners of the data. Most of the data is freely available online anyway. For the rest, you have to go to the host countries (Germany and Russia are two with requirements like that) and make formal requests to get it. The scientists in question can't hand the data over.

In one case, McIntyre had the data, but kept demanding it from Briffa anyway. See

More on McIntyre:

If you want to read up on how "incompetent" McKiktrick is (he is not a climate scientist), read this take down of one of his papers:

By the way, that flawed paper was published in the same journal that the scientists are complaining about in the hacked emails.

A bit more background:

CanadianSense said...

Mark how much money has been spent to push the theory of AGW?

Why do "bullies" behind AGW use language to discredit and intimidate?

Simple points:

Would skeptics have any support if th data was NOT destroyed or illegally withheld?

Mark how do feel about those "memos" from Colvin?
Clearly consistency is VERY important.

Taxpayers have paid for the raw data temperatures. Why did the cabal of 20-30 allow destruction of this data?

You don't seem to be concerned about the truth, manipulation of data by a small number of people.

I can play the game of links with experts who have been attacked, sidelined, kept out of peer review.

When did science muzzle the dissent?

The Church tried it and the new church is the AGW alarmists who have broken the golden rule of science.

Why the Panic to act and sign a cap & trade policy to transfer credits on a carbon market exchange.

(I support cleaning up pollution, clean water, tangible things improving things with existing available technology first)

The NDP are cying about HST, how much will Cap and Trade cost?

One billion, two billion?

Mark Richard Francis said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mark Richard Francis said...


Conspiracy theories can always be made out of thin air, and often are. And they are wonderful things, right? Because they need not be proven to be maintained. They need only not be completely unproven to survive. They exist under reverse onus, and yet require counter views to exist under regular onus.

You rely on McKiktrick, a non-climate scientist economist working for a propaganda mill, who, after claiming four years of peer review on a paper, submitted it while it held high-school level flaws (he confused radians with degrees), which completely subvert his findings. And yet, to this day he acts as if it's a fine paper, and is indignant about how it was treated. It's all just bluster and performance.

That lousy paper is central to several of the emails under question. The publishing of that paper (note that it clearly wasn't 'muzzled') led to the resignation in protest of several of the journal's editors. It's an old scandal, which the denialists have always claimed was about science being muzzled, when, in fact, it's been about a horrible paper being published as it it was a good one, in an effort to subvert global warming science.

I learned a long time ago that people who lack credibility -- and, might I add, humility -- are not to be taken seriously, no matter how much they hue and cry.

People can argue endlessly about whether peer review is fair, but the real issue is whether or not the work was worthy of being published. The same arguments were made a generation ago by the same suspects (like The Heartland Institute which is a major source of anti-global warming propaganda) sources claiming that their "proof" that smoking doesn't cause cancer wasn't getting published in peer review journals. Bias! They claimed.

Well, no. The journals publish science, not propaganda.

Unfortunately, as we are being reminded these days, most people understandably can't tell the difference between good science and bad science. The propagandists know this. So they make gruel, pronounce it caviar, and complain of bias when the 'bully' expert chefs denounce it as crap.

Barcs said...

I am not sure Mark, whether you are talking about climate science being crap, or that people that are skeptical of it.

Just wondering how the conference in Copenhagen is helping?

How does the science prove that it is good to fly in thousands of people from all over the world. Isn't flying worse because of the height at which the emissions are made?

How does the science think its ok for more than 1200 limo's to be driven around for that conference? The managing director from the biggest limo company in Copenhagen recently said they had to drive in more from Germany and Sweden. (did you know they only have 5 electric ones??)

How does the science (if we are at a drastic tipping point as is claimed) ok that the developed world should take the hit... and let the developing nations keep increasing emissions each year? If it is catastrophic... wouldn't we lower stuff everywhere possible??

If the experts tell us this is a good thing to do... or even ok. Doesn't that make you question the credibility of the "experts"??

Barcs said...

couple other quick questions too....

If its carbon we are trying to remove....

Wouldn't the "Dirty" oilsands be just as clean to the US as burning a gallon of diesel to move a tanker of "clean oil" a few feet to get oil to the US from the middle east??

Shouldn't we immediately put a stop to all sports requiring team travel? How much does the NFL, NBA, MLB, Oylimpics emit just getting people to the events... not to mention things like nascar?

Shouldn't we limit public gatherings like concerts and conferences (especially those arranged to combat or raise money to prevent the emissions) based on how much people emit on the way to such events?

Movie and TV shows.... Are they really required? Not just for the power used, but for the emissions put into the air for the movement to and making of?? Just for entertainment? Do I see Movie stars renouncing their participation in movie (and receiving millions in pay) to save the environment which several tout as their cause?

Why am I skeptical? Not just because of things like this email scandal or "corrected Data" or models that haven't worked yet.

I am skeptical too, because those people who claim it as a cause seem to be doing the most "damage" that they are trying to prevent. (gores extra houses, suzuki's plane travel, conferences with a bigger footprint in a week than Saskatchewan puts out in a year).

If it was a crisis.... would all this BS but the defenders of the "science" really be happening?

Mark Richard Francis said...


McKitrick is full of crap. I made that clear.

Skeptics are okay -- I'm one. Contrarians (deniliasts) I have little respect for. Most of both classes are just ill-informed, or overly political in their views. There are some of the latter class, however, who are simply lying.

Emissions at any height in the troposphere (that's the atmosphere down here, including where air passenger flight happens) doesn't matter. It all comes to distribute fairly evenly. Got a link saying differently? I'd be interested.

Your other 'questions' are obviously silly. If you don't think they are, you should.

Barcs said...

Too lazy to go find the Journals, but Suzuki:
Assorted IPCC (search for "plane", "air travel" or "aviation"

"Your other 'questions' are obviously silly. If you don't think they are, you should."

If global warming is catastrophic, shouldn't we do EVERYTHING we can to prevent it?

Shouldn't we look at the day to day things that people who push the theory do? follow their (non)-example?

Why are we looking only at a small part of the "cost" of product? Shouldn't we look at the entire chain of its production, transportation and use before we decide (ethanol production, oil location, etc)?

Those are stupid questions in your mind?? ... I sure hope I am not the one feeling silly.

What I am trying to say... is there is a whole lot of things we can do... IF infact man-made global warming is the problem. Things we don't do now. But instead we replace a few light bulbs, pay a few people elsewhere not to start "polluting", so we can go on doing it, and even let millions increase their "pollution" because it isn't fair... they did not get to before.

For that we call ourselves geniuses and give ourselves a pat on the back. I call BS. Either it is a problem and we should act in every way possible..... or this bullcrap I described continues... and I sit here and laugh at the ninnies running around with there head cut off doing stuff and accomplishing less than nothing moving themselves farther from their goal.

Barcs said...

fun facts:

Canada (one of the worst offenders apparently) produces 544,680 tonnes of CO2/year.

The Copenhagen conference with its 140 private planes (which must fly to regional airports to make room for more at the international airport)..... 1200 limos, 15,000 delegate, 5,000 journalists, etc, etc, (but no Al Gore for some ...odd? reason) will probably "cost" approximately 41,000 tonnes.

That is 7.5% of Canada's (one of the worst offenders) yearly emissions.

Denmark itself (often touted as one of the best) is 53,194. This conference is nearly 3/4 of Denmarks annual emissions.

(2006 UN data)

Curing the planet by killing the patient??