[See Update 23 April 2014 at the end]
Here’s a correspondence I’ve been having with the Readers’ Editor at the Guardian:
From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 30 March 2014:
Dear Readers’ Editor,
I’m writing to complain about this article,
which is factually incorrect and defamatory of myself and of Steve McIntyre.
The headline: “Contrarians bully journal into retracting a climate psychology paper” is contradicted by the journal itself, as is explained by commenter TLITB1 in the second to last comment on the thread (26 March 2014 11:22am) where the journal editor is quoted as saying:
“This decision had nothing to do with caving in to pressure and was driven by our own analysis of various factors and advice received”.
Author Dana Nuccitelli provides no evidence within the article itself of “contrarians bullying the journal” or that the journal “finally caved to these threats”. Instead, in the sentence:
“Very soon after its publication, the journal Frontiers was receiving letters from contrarians threatening libel lawsuits (Graham Readfearn has some details)”
there is a link to an article by Readfearn at DeSmogBlog.
The evidence for “bullying” and “contrarians threatening libel lawsuits” provided in the Readfearn article comes in the final section, under the subheading: “Gagging orders hide libel threats”, the second paragraph of which reads:
“One blogger, Geoff Chambers, wrote to Frontiers asking that the paper be withdrawn because it was defamatory towards him”.
and which links to an article on my blog
which reproduces my letter of complaint to the journal. In the letter I point out that the paper (now retracted) is defamatory, and I end:
“I therefore respectfully suggest that the wisest course might be to withdraw this paper.”
The third and fourth paragraphs refer to a complaint made by a blog commenter called “Foxgoose” who points out that a quote had been falsely attributed to him, and that this was potentially defamatory. But this error (one of many in the paper) was rectified before publication, so can have had no part in the journal’s decision to retract the paper.
The fifth paragraph refers to two complaints made by Steve McIntyre. They are couched in legal terminology and also use the word “defamatory”, but make no mention of legal action.
It is clear from the above, and from the statement by the editors of the journal themselves, that the accusation of “bullying” in Nuccitelli’s article is baseless. Since the only evidence for bullying and threats of libel lawsuits is a link to the Readfearn article, and since that article links directly to my letter of complaint, and mentions Steve McIntyre, (who has also published his letters of complaint at his blog ClimateAudit) it is clear that the accusations in Nuccitelli’s article are aimed at me and McIntyre.
It seems fairly pointless to publish a correction on an article on which comments are closed and which is now ancient history, in internet terms. In the case of a previous article at Guardian Environment by Bob Ward which made remarks about climate blogger Andrew Montford which Montford considered defamatory, the solution found was to give Montford a right of reply in an article at Guardian Environment. I suggest that this would be a suitable solution in this case.
I shall be forwarding this letter to Steve McIntyre, but will not otherwise publicise it.
Hoping to hear from you soon
Guardian Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers 22/04/14 21:09
Thank you for your email, and I’m sorry it has taken some time to reply to your request for a right of reply.
As you say neither you or Steve McIntyre are mentioned in the Guardian article.
You are, however mentioned in the blog by Graham Readfearn, to which the Guardian article links.
The Readfearn blog in turn links to
a) An article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)
b) Your own blog
c) Posts made by Steve McIntyre
c) The letters and emails received by Frontiers and/or UWA and obtained through an FOI request.
The Readfearn blog links to both yours and Steve McIntyre’s online publications regarding this matter. Your point of view and your own statements are reflected in the places where you are named and I don’t believe there is any need for a further reply in the Guardian.
Follow us on Twitter: @GdnReadersEd
From Geoff Chambers to Guardian Readers’ Editor 22 April 2014
Dear Ms Harper,
Thank you for your reply, three weeks late, which is no reply at all.
I wrote to complain that Dana Nuccitelli’s article accusing unnamed people of threatening and bullying the publishers of Lewandowsky’s paper “Recursive Fury” was factually incorrect, since the editors of the journal have categorically denied having received any threats. The only evidence Nuccitelli provides for his baseless accusation is a link to an article by Graham Readfearn (also a Guardian journalist) which provides as “evidence” a false statement about Foxgoose, a quote from Steve McIntyre, and a link to my blog. Anyone looking for evidence of the accusation of bullying in the headline will be naturally led to believe that these three individuals are the bullies.
Instead of dealing with this clear example of an article which is false and defamatory, your letter merely points me to some links in the Readfearn article, one of them to my own blog, and one of them, you say, to “an article by Lewandowsky and Cook, with comments. (Your own comments appear there.)”
But there is no link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook at Readfearn’s article (there is one to an article by Lewandowsky and Oberauer). Neither I nor Readfearn mention Cook. So where did you get Cook’s name from?
There is a link to an article by Lewandowsky and Cook in Nuccitelli’s article, and there are comments there by me. But what has that to do with the false statement in the Guardian article that the journal “Frontiers in Science” gave in to bullying, and the defamatory link that implies that Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and I were the bullies?
The fact that you bring Cook into the story in a wholly irrelevant way, and that neither I nor Readfearn, whom I cite, had mentioned him, suggests to me that your letter was written in large part by Dana Nuccitelli. Am I right?
What action will you be taking to rectify the false and defamatory claim of bullying in the article’s headline?
PS This has nothing to do with anything, but I learnt recently that I am related to C.P. Scott. When my great aunt Rebecca Scott mentioned long ago that her father had worked for the Guardian, I asked her if he was C.P. Scott, and she laughed and said no. When she died recently I found among her papers the long obituary of C.P. Scott which appeared in the Guardian on his death in 1932, and there I learned that he had two brothers who also worked on the Guardian.
Small world, isn’t it?
PPS, which I didn’t mention to Barbara: C.P.Scott, the famous editor of the Guardian, coined the slogan which adorns the Guardian’s comments page: “Comment is free, but facts are sacred”. I claim to have invented the version made popular by Delingpole: “Kommentmachtfrei” – but since I did it in a long since deleted comment at the Guardian, there’s no way of proving it. __________________________________________________________
Readers’ Editor to Geoff Chambers: 23 April 2014
We’ve gone carefully through all the links, including the correspondence obtained under FOI, in the light of the issues you raised and as a result we do not feel that any further action is necessary.
Geoff Chambers to Readers’ Editor: 23 April 2014
Dear Ms Harper
Thank you for your prompt reply.
Does it mean that the Guardian supports Dana Nucitelli in his accusations of bullying against Foxgoose, Steve McIntyre and me?