Regarding this, otherwise somewhat reassuring, report today on the Southern Baptist leadership attempting to steer the church to a responsible position on climate change, I sent the following to NPR.
Et tu, NPR?
In an otherwise encouraging report Monday about leaders of the Southern Baptist Church rethinking their position on climate change, your reported Barbara Bradley Haggerty describes the position of Pastor Frank Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, as follows:
“He says he is merely trying to take a stand between denying global warming and channeling Al Gore.”
Now did the gentleman actually say such a thing? It’s hard to believe. First of all, it’s unlikely that a leading light of a church would confrontationally scorn an individual by name in a context like this, leaving aside the connections of the Gore family and the Baptist Church. But “channeling”? From a staid Southern Baptist? That is well-nigh unbelievable.
So what did Dr. Page actually say? Well, immediately following the journalists paraphrase we have the following directly from himself.
” I think it is time to take a stand for responsible, biblical stewardship of our environment regardless of extremes on either side” is what Dr. Page actually says on tape. This is the sole evidence offered in evidence of Ms Haggerty’s snide summary.
One comes away with the impression that Ms. Bradley is so convinced that Mr. Gore represents an extreme position that she does not expect a significant fraction of the audience to disagree, and that Dr. Page is of the same opinion.
Of course if Dr. Page said so, that is big news and I would expect you to quote him directly. On the other hand, if the reference to Gore as a stand-in for extremism is due to your reporter, one hardly knows where to begin to address this outrage. At the very least I would remind Ms Bradley that the Nobel committee had a rather different idea of Mr. Gore’s position in the spectrum of opinion.
Gore has been spending years trying to bridge the gap between the scientific community’s informed sense of urgency and the public’s ill-informed sense of indifference. This casual insult by Ms Haggerty to a man who is trying to bring the discussion into line with the evidence, can only cause further damage to the already tortured public discourse on this matter. The denial extremists can handle themselves well enough, and I would thank NPR not to do their job for them. The substantial anger and frustration I feel about this dreadfully misplaced and ill-considered comment serves little purpose, so I will refrain from dwelling on it.
Still, I insist that unless Dr. Page mentioned Mr. Gore by name as an extremist, both Mr. Gore and Dr. Page are owed an apology and the rest of us are owed a retraction.
Those suggesting that the press isn’t explicitly misrepresenting the situation in the US, to great cost to us all, are welcome to explain this bizarre presentation on NPR. Others are invited to join me in commenting at atc at npr dot org
Update: Well, I managed to hear the listener feedback section today and ATC didn’t run the above. Maybe for the best. It’s a bit complicated. I hope they managed to understand it though.
Implying that Gore is an extremist is not doing anybody except the hard-core deniers any favors.