Yesterday I posted a story from CBS News: Quake n’ Bake: Global Warming Causes More Energetic Earthquakes?
The main headline was this: Seismic Activity 5 Times More Energetic Than 20 Years Ago Because Of Global Warming
This drew a lot of attention because of the total lack of verifiable science associated with it. I posted some graphs of USGS data showing that the opposite was true, that recent earthquake energy was actually less that in the early 1900′s, and several commenters pointed out that the source of the story, a Dr. Tom Chalko, has some less than stellar associations with what I would describe as “new age” mysticism, such as Thiaoouba Prophecy and “reading your Aura”. He also writes a dandy piece entitled “Global Warming: Can Earth EXPLODE?” which is linked to a website he runs about “bioresonance” where you can buy a “bioresonant” shirt.
So with that sort of science background available on the web for anyone to see in a few seconds of searching, one wonders how CBS News was duped into running a story like this without even bothering to check into the author. This makes the “historic” Microsoft Word documents used by Dan Rather to discredit President Bush’s National Guard Service look like a peer reviewed science paper.
The story gets weirder. CBS attributed the story on their website to the Associated Press (AP) and you can see that clearly in the screen capture of the story below. Odd thing though, there is no dateline, as you usually see with an AP story, and no story author:
Click for a full sized image or see the full text as a PDF file here
After apparently learning of the less than scientific associations of the lead author of the research, CBS removed it from their website as of about 3 p.m. EST on June 19. This was the original link:
Here is where it gets interesting, after CBS pulled the story from their website, I did some searches for it on the Associated Press website at http://www.ap.org thinking it would still be there.
The story is not found in searches at www.ap.org using “Tom Chalko” or “earthquake global warming”
At the www.ap.org search, for earthquake(s) we find many stories either side of it on June 18th:
But nothing about the Chalko story. Putting in the authors name “Tom Chalko” also yields nothing on ap.org. I wasn’t content with that, so I asked my radio station newsroom at KPAY to run a search on the AP wire stories they receive; nothing turned up. I also asked the editor of our local newspaper, the Chico Enterprise Record, to run a search, and he also found no evidence that AP had transmitted this story.
A further point- it seems to be only connected to CBS News, and their attribution to the AP appears when I do Google News searches such as this one:
“earthquakes global warming Associated press” or “Tom Chalko AP” the only association that appears is the CBS story with (AP) in it, as shown in the screencap below:
As seasoned internet news junkies know, if the story had run on the AP wire service, it would have showed up automatically in several newspapers, radio, and TV station websites. But it did not.
MSNBC also apparently fell for the Marketwire story:
“On June 18, CBS.com posted a story claiming that global seismic activity on Earth is now five times more energetic than it was just 20 years ago because of global warming. The story had no byline, but was attributed to the Associated Press. The story was identical to a June 17 Market Wire press release attributed to Tom Chalko, the scientist that made the claim of the earthquake/global warming link. However, as of 3 p.m. on June 19, the CBS.com story was no longer available and both CBS.com and AP were blaming the other side for report. “
“According to Mike Sims, director of news and operations for CBSNews.com, the story was an Associated Press story that came across their wire, but Susan James, a researcher for the Associated Press, told the Business & Media Institute no such story exists in their database. “It’s not an AP story,” James said. “It’s not turning up in our archives.” Sims did not immediately return an inquiry for a response to the Associated Press’ claim. The original story and the identical press release detail the alleged increased danger from earthquakes as a result of global warming.”
So from the four different angles, Google, my local radio station newsroom, my local newspaper newsroom, and AP itself, it has become clear that this was never an Associated Press story. Yet it is even more clear that CBS incorrectly attributed the story to AP, and then removed it without so much as a note, much less a retraction.
In my opinion, CBS News has no credibility left. This opinion is qualified by: I’ve been to CBS in New York to do work for CBS Newspath, and spent 25 years on TV at two CBS News local affiliates. I’ve been associated with CBS News during my entire TV Meteorology career. I trusted it at one time.
It’s one thing to screw up a story, it happens. But it is quite another to incorrectly attribute the source, and then to remove the story with no notice or retraction or recognition of the error whatsoever.
Accurate science reporting, particularly in stories attributing almost anything to “global warming” in the mainstream media has been woefully inadequate, but this is pure incompetence on the part of CBS.
NOTE: Thanks to Carsten A. Arnholm of Norway who provided the screencap of the original CBS story shortly after it had been removed, and to Barry Hearn for the PDF version.
Also, I made a small correction to the wording on 6/20 I meant to say “dateline” as usually appears on AP stories, not “byline”.