CBS News sinks to new low; publishes crackpot global warming story, attributes it to Associated Press, kills it with no retraction

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:

http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2008/06/18/tech/main4191556.shtml

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:

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/external/search.hosted.ap.org/wireCoreTool/Search?SITE=CAVIC&query=earthquakes

http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/external/search.hosted.ap.org/wireCoreTool/Search?SITE=CAVIC&query=earthquake

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:


Click for a larger screencap image

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.

It appears that the original source for this story was from a website in Canada, called “marketwire” which has some of the same exact quotes as the CBS story.

http://www.marketwire.com/mw/release.do?id=869983

MSNBC also apparently fell for the Marketwire story:
http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25222766/

Taking the investigation one step further, Jeff Poor of the Business & Media Institute asked CBS News and AP about it in the story he filed:

“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”.

62 thoughts on “CBS News sinks to new low; publishes crackpot global warming story, attributes it to Associated Press, kills it with no retraction

  1. Well, while the Earth hasn’t blown up yet, people studying sudden climate change in the Greenland ice cores have some new stuff to report. Nothing Earth shaking (sorry), but they do raise the possibility that the trigger is in Asia, not the fresh water over the Gulf current like the Younger Dryas event and The Day after Tomorrow nonsense.

    Excerpts from http://www.sciencenews.org/view/generic/id/33371/title/Now_thats_abrupt :

    Now that’s abrupt
    By Ashley Yeager
    June 19th, 2008
    Web edition

    Ancient ice cores show North Atlantic went from cold to warm in just three years.

    According to ice core evidence, abrupt changes did occur thousands of years ago. Weather patterns changed in one to three years, and the amount of dust in the atmosphere decreased five-fold in less than four decades. That means, within 30 years, the climate change was complete, reports a new study published in ScienceXpress, the online supplement to the June 19 Science.

    The new study finds that the last two major warming events — at 14,700 and 11,700 years ago — followed the same general pattern. The team also suggests that whatever triggered the swift, North Atlantic climate shifts may not even have begun near Greenland, but rather in the temperate regions of Asia.

    Though the scientists didn’t pinpoint the exact trigger, based on the yearly changes in isotopes of oxygen and hydrogen found in the ice, they hypothesize that high southern latitudes and tropical oceans warmed because of decreases in North Atlantic air and water circulation. This tropical warming in the Southern Hemisphere could have induced the first northward shift of the juncture where Northeast and Southeast trade winds intersect.

    When this wind stream contact point is pushed to its northernmost threshold, it sets off more intense Pacific monsoons, which lead to wetter conditions in Asia. Less dust is uplifted into the air and more particles wash out in the monsoonal rain, which means less dust falls in Greenlandic snow.

    The measurements will also “put the ball back in climate modelers’ court,” White explains. Current global climate models cannot replicate abrupt climate changes that are as rapid as those recorded in the ice cores. “If you are looking at it like a disease, the symptoms don’t match,” so the input triggers in the models must be wrong, he adds. But by pinpointing triggers of abrupt climate change episodes of the past, he says, modelers can make better predictions of future episodes.

    Could such a change happen today? “The IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] gives at least 90 percent confidence that we won’t have any big, fast weirdness in the North Atlantic in the next century,” Alley says. “But, 90 percent is not 100 percent. Even a slight chance of drying of the monsoons and southward shift of the tropical circulation raises a whole lot of questions.”

  2. It seems pretty clear that CBS is making a bid to compete directly with George Noory, Art Bell, and The Weekly World News. They should hire Richard C. Hoagland and to be their news director.

  3. Get out yer meditation crystals and vibrate, folks —

    “Dr Tom Chalko holds Master degree in engineering and a Ph.D. in physics (laser holography). His current academic appointment is with the University of Melbourne in Australia. Dr Chalko professional interests span from lasers and vibration engineering to physics of consciousness. His passions include meditation, exploring limits of human perception, awareness and self healing, playing classical guitar and conducting controversial seminars.”

    http://bioresonant.com/freedom.html

  4. Hansen appears to be beating the drum again:

    “My conclusions in 1988 were built on a wide range of inputs from basic physics, planetary studies, observations of on-going changes and climate models,” Hansen told ABC News in an e-mail. “The evidence was strong enough that I could say it was time to ‘stop waffling’. I was sure that time would bring the scientific community to a similar consensus, as it has.”

    He stated, “The next President and Congress must define a course next year in which the United States exerts leadership commensurate with our responsibility for the present dangerous situation.”

    A new 182 pager from our friends at NCDC (“As greenhouse gasses increase, the faster they increase, the more extreme weather and climate events we’ll be seeing,” said Thomas Karl, co-editor of the report and director of the National Climatic Data Center at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.) sent to Congress as floods in the midwest hit the news to provide corroboration.

    http://www.climatescience.gov

  5. It appears that Dr. Chalko put out a press release on Marketwire and CBS bit on it. It so fits what they want to believe they don’t properly check out the source.

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  7. I knew it! I thought I smelled BS when I read the story and left a comment to that effect on the CBS news blog. I then marked it and when I tried to go back it was gone. This website afirmed my instincts and made me glad I don’t take the force feeding from the media.

  8. It seems that many people either think that Market Wire IS part of AP or that AP had a product called “AP Market Wire” at some point. So, it could be a matter of someone seeing the article come in over Market Wire and thought it was part of AP and attributed it as such. A search of “AP Market Wire” returns a few hits.

  9. Congratulations.

    The story you’ve done here is a fine demonstration of the kind of work a journalist is supposed to do, even in the face of a foregone conclusion. Today’s communication majors seem less adept at performing the exhausting work of a journalist and more adept at reading exciting press releases.

    My expectation is that, if CBS does anything, it won’t be to examine the way they do the news. They’ll probably end up finding someone on whom to affix blame, fire them, then move on as though it were a minor blip.

    The thought that should give everyone pause is that, if CBS does this on a story that is so obviously in the realm of crankdom, what kind of investigative work do they perform on other stories that come their way?

    Thank God for the Internet!

  10. The only thing that surprises me is the Rev. ever trusted them. When CBS dubbed machine gun fire sound into a report by Walter Cronkite after the ’68 Tet Offensive, I decided tea leaves and Tarot cards were far more accurate news sources. A friend was there during the report, outside Hue. No gunfire.

  11. WBAL radio in Baltimore did run that piece with no mention of CBS ( they are an NBC affiliate station, fwiw) and an AP attribution.

    http://wbal.com/stories/templates/default.aspx?a=8232&template=print-article.htm

    This was the single such link I came across in a search of web sources.

    REPLY: Thanks for finding this ! If you compare the CBS story in the PDF file to the WBAL file, they are word for word. Note the byline says “WBAL Radio and Associated Press”, which (to me) implies they had some hand in putting the story together.

    From experience I can tell you that if it had run on the AP wire, there would be at least a few dozen presences of this story on the web, even if AP killed it a day later. Google cache would still show the presence. That isn’t there either.

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  13. This just in: CBS has located Bat Boy! FBI dispatched to apprehend the half man, half bat.

  14. As of 11:35PM PDT on 6/19/2008 MSNBC still has this story on their website.

    http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/25222766/

    I wonder whose head will roll at CBS this time. Rather and Mapes aren’t there anymore. They just get so excited and want to scoop the competition. The story fit the narrative that they want to deliver, and…………….it blows up in their face again.

    Excellent work following this up Anthony. One minor correction though – it’s quite common for the AP not to carry the name of the reporter on a story.

  15. Re: Klockarman,

    Probably no one will lose their job. There will be no changes. To CBS this is a non-incident, noticed only by a small subsection of blog space.

    No matter how egregious this appears to those here who care, this is already over as far as CBS is concerned.

  16. JOURNALISTIC SUICIDE
    There was a time when news organisations were run by professionals with integrity. But at CBS, I’d say it (and other similar institutions) are now run by a bunch of spoiled brats who are taking it down the path of jounalistic suicide.

    If that should indeed come to pass, I’ll be the first to say: “Good Riddance!”

  17. Like Tim Flannery, he’s just another loony Australian trying to get his 15 seconds of fame. At least I haven’t seen anything here from the Australian Broadcast Co on it. The Aussie ABC is as bad as CBS and we (taxpayers) have to pay for it!

  18. Aargh… My Melbourne is a fine city, but even the best have that institution just over the fence in left field; and there will always be escapees.

  19. Eric,
    Science Daily has feature on the NOAA story.
    You just can’t miss all the “likelys”.

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2008/06/080619175522.htm

    Expect More Droughts, Heavy Downpours, Excessive Heat, And Intense Hurricanes Due To Global Warming, NOAA.
    -Abnormally hot days and nights, along with heat waves, are very likely to become more common.
    -Cold nights are very likely to become less common.
    -Sea ice extent is expected to continue to decrease and may even disappear in the Arctic Ocean in summer in coming decades.
    -Precipitation, on average, is likely to be less frequent but more intense.
    -Droughts are likely to become more frequent and severe in some regions.
    -Hurricanes will likely have increased precipitation and wind.
    -The strongest cold-season storms in the Atlantic and Pacific are likely to produce stronger winds and higher extreme wave heights.

    “Likely” just means they don’t know.
    If I roll the dice, a number is also very likely to appear.

  20. I don’t know. I post my first comment and it ends up being on a story which is utter nonsense!!

    Typical :)

    Keep up the good work Anthony, I really enjoy reading the articles on here.

    REPLY: Thanks Pete.

  21. …. Global warming causes more energetic Earthquakes…..?

    ….. Nah mate!…. That woz me bonkin’ me girlfriend. Sure o’ it.

    Oi! Never thought o’ it before…. But maybe sex causes Global warming, an’ then causes Earthquakes….! You know… Asymetrical shakin’ and warmin’…. Night one side… Day th’ other…. 3 billion goin’ fer it on the nite side o’ the world, while’s th’ other side’s surfin’ an’ hangin’ out at th’ mall….

    …. Who’s up fer gettin’ a grant and putting this Hypothesis to th’ test!

  22. Disappointing. The state of science reporting in the media is simply atrocious. They’re all about fantasizing about things, looking for the big “doom and gloom” stories which will get them a few more views and a view more advertising dollars. Seems to be a problem with their news paradigm more than anything else.

  23. This article in CBS is the same kind of pseudo science that some times made the news. Here in this blog sometimes we have this kind of pseudocience.It’s fun to see pseudoscience talking about pseudoscience.

    Sorry for my bad english.

  24. This just in: CBS has located Bat Boy! FBI dispatched to apprehend the half man, half bat.

    Dan, don’t tease! I really, really miss Bat Boy. He was the reason I looked forward to waiting in line at the check out counter. Now, alas, Weekly World News is dead – all hope of finding Bat Boy is gone…

  25. Just shows you what all those CBS fact checkers do, stay out of the way of the agenda. Must be the same ones Dan Rather used.

    Political science is not what real scientists want. If you can’t count on them to be honest and unbiased brokers of fact what can you count on. The government institutions, like the climate folks and the hurricane folks are skating real close to the precipice as it is. I wonder how many more are cooking the books. Is government grant money paying for what the granters want to hear?

    The only thing the wild hurricane predictions have done is scare off near all the Florida tourists — Well there is that one good thing, Gov Crist had been anti-drill but now that the state budget is in shambles and the money from offshore leases would come in handy, he did a quick 180. Odd how that works, and what $4 a gallon gas does to tourism.

  26. Note on Chaiten, while she’s seismically quiet just now the new dome is building rapidly, all while the eruption has been venting continuously implying a very large source chamber.
    A major eruption by summer’s end is even money.

  27. Most interesting. I don’t know what to make of it.
    Seems to be a lot of really weird things going on in the news these days.
    I like shifting from one news cast to another and often break out in laughter at what is being said and how.

    Thank you for bringing this to my attention.

    Smiles,
    Donna

  28. As the Earth has started to cool down, now..
    I ask myself, are the MSM outlets now beginning to run dry of fresh global warming stories and find it difficult to feed to hysteria?

    Are they now so desperate so they have to publish stories like this one from this new age wacko without checking him out.

  29. Maybe its just me, but I am of the opinion that Chalko may be more credible than algore and his dog JimBobHansen. It seems that Goebbels was right about the lie thing.

  30. The only thing the MSM cares about is spreading the dogma. They’re just one of the warm-mongers. If a story says we’re all going to hell in a handbasket because there are too many SUV’s, they’ll run it on page 1.

    Obviously they found out pretty quick that this “Dr” is a certified Loon and now pretend they never ran it.

    About that “degree in laser holography”: I seriously doubt there is such a thing. For one, to make a hologram, you have to use a laser. Lots of people make them. I made one or two. It’s techno-art. And you don’t get a degree in it.

    From the comments on the still-existing link, nobody was taken in by this charlatan.

  31. “no recognition of the error whatsoever” “pure icompetence on the part of CBS”

    You’re too kind. I don’t think it was an error and I don’t think it was incompetence. I think it was a burning desire for some turkey to print a BS story and to stick a source on it that would give it a little credibility.

    Retracted because they got caught. Didn’t learn anything from the Dan Rather debacle, I guess. If they don’t start learning soon, they’ll be looking up at the National Inquirer.

  32. Everybody should remember that the purpose of CBS is to sell products, not inform people. When everybody finally realizes this, we’ll all be better off.

  33. These idiots will say anything to get people to believe in the hoax that we call global warming (or on cooler than normal days, global climate change).

    What does the warming of the planet’s atmosphere have to do with it’s crust? Furthermore, is there any scientific evidence to support the wild claim that the warming of the earth’s crust would cause tectonic plates to shift thus causing earthquakes?

    Where did the people learn science, on the back of a cereal box?

  34. Today’s journalists and editors simply don’t have the knowledge that the previous generation had. This is espeially true in the sciences. This story should have triggered a big red flag just from the physics aspects alone. How does a 1 to 2 degree temperature change trigger a quantum jump in earthquake severity?

    All journalists are lazy anyway. Most of their time is spent rewriting press releases . If the source seems OK, especially one that reinforces their worldview, then the facts are OK. This has been true for years. The media’s reputation carried them when they were wrong. Now readers who know better, can quickly challenge the story as happened here. I pity the current journalists. They know there are readers far brighter than they are. They know they can blow holes in their stories. One of the best ways to fight this, is the old fashioned Orwellian way that occurred here.

    Make the story unhappen.

  35. To anyone still interested in this, the whole AP/CBS thing seems to have gone down as follows.

    CBS always seems to reformat (AP) and other stories from other sources in a unique fashion. With (AP) they cut out the author and other info that heads the piece and just insert the (AP) symbol. Everyone else leaves all that material in. Furthermore, at the end of the article CBS inserts a slightly non-standard bit of boilerplate about the story coming from (AP)–they use roman numerals for example (MMVIII), where (AP) does not .

    Now, Marketwire is a mostly Canadian service, and you can’t find too many (or any) articles from it on CBS. I suspect a release from them got incorrectly reformatted as (AP). Nothing dishonest, although the appallingly stupid aspect of running the article as news in the first place still remains.

    In a sense, though, CBS has been about the best behaved media entity in this whole matter. MSNBC still links to the story, and so does the Globe and Mail.

    REPLY: Sounds plausible, and fits the known facts, thanks. – Anthony

  36. I may be mistaken, but I seem to remember reading somewhere that Marketwire is a propaganda machine for the AGW crowd. That they make sure that the MSM get the press releases for any warmer scientist.

    You know, I would be inclined to believe a theory that some scientific study had concluded that data suggest that variances in solar magnetic forces caused changes in stress forces of the tetonic plates, thereby resulting in an increase/decrease in seismic activity and magnitude of that activity.

    But……

    Magnetism wasn’t even mentioned in this Chalko flake’s PDF paper.

    Can any one think of anything that they haven’t blamed “Global Warming” on? I’ll bet they’ll even try to blame the next ice age on Global warming. LOL

    Can you believe that I had someone post in a forum, saying that, “Global warming absolutely cannot bring an end of an ice age”?

  37. He think the Earth will blown up soon ?
    i think the God create us to learn much, to learn Earth effects, but there is a limitation.

    God bless you, all!

  38. Hey guys, I just checkout the MSNBC site for the story again. I first viewed it a few hours ago, but by comparison, it appears that they have shrunk the text. It’s so small now it can hardly be read. It may be gone altogether soon.

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  43. CBS and news equate exactly to Goebbels and news. CBS and news equate exactly to Hegel and news. Long live Mass Media, because they motivate the Masses (I guess that is what it means). Even if they make their supposition disappear, the masses will remember it as fact.

    That is why I don’t watch CBS, ABC, MSNBC, ad-nauseum, “news.” I’m not into limbic level motivational programming.

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