Dear New York Times: Climate Denial Has No Place in the Paper of Record

An Open Letter from Writers to the Grey Lady

May 1, 2017  By Literary Hub

To the Editors:
We note with disappointment and shock the New York Times‘ decision to hire Bret Stephens as an op-ed columnist. In columns for the Wall Street Journal, Mr. Stephens has baselessly claimed that the abundance of evidence for global warming has been “debunked”; that climate change is an “imaginary problem”; and that those who accept the scientific evidence of climate change are akin to totalitarians, anti-Semites, and Communists.

These claims, and the intellectual dishonesty that underpins them, contradict the central mission of the New York Times, a media outlet that carefully sources its facts and information. Stephens is not just a “conservative voice.” An honest conservative voice may argue about what policies ought or ought not to be implemented in response to climate change. He is in fundamental respects an opponent of truth. It is disturbing that the Times would lend its credence to claims that find no real support in the scientific community and indeed are contradicted by the Times’ own coverage of these issues. To normalize Stephens’ science denialism is to normalize the willful negation and distortion of facts that the Times supposedly resists.

Katheleen Alcott · Hannah Lillith Assadi · Ramona Ausubel · Michael Barron · Julie Buntin · Anelise Chen · Karim Dimechkie · Liz Dosta · Rivka Galchen · Sarah Gerard · Alex Gilvarry · Hermione Hoby · Perrin Ireland · Karl Jacoby · Porochista Khakpour · Alexandra Kleeman ·  Marie Myung-Ok Lee · Ariel Lewiton · Cal Morgan · Joseph O’Neill · Tracy O’Neill · Téa Obreht · David Leo Rice · Ingrid Contreras Rojas · Jonathan Schienberg  · Dan Sheehan · Jessica Soffer · Marya Spence · Richard Torres · Erin White

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  • Sand_Cat

    While I understand your discomfort, I cannot agree with your alarmist response.
    The publishing of specific, flagrantly false statements, even as part of an “opinion” piece, is not something to be encouraged. It is true that there is a tendency to declare opinions as “false,” and thus unworthy of publication, but there are plenty of places where dissenting opinions can be aired. Where does one draw the line?
    I recall reading an essay on the alleged dangers of “tolerating the intolerant,” which invokes the same kind of discomfort. Allowing the intolerant to implement their agenda means the end ofr tolerance, but there are clearly dangers to tolerance in suppressing them.
    I guess what I’m saying is that I believe a more ambivalent response is more appropriate to this sort of thing, the full speed ahead condemnation being a thing more of the Right than the Left as you implied, and – unfortunately – giving them strong advantages in their battels against science, tolerance, and dissidence.

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