Steve McIntyre writes an historical comparison of how “fake-gate” is more like water-gate than one might realize. It just isn’t the name association, it’s about donor lists. And then there’s that interesting twist that Steve points out from WUWT that makes the connection even more interesting. Some excerpts below, and of course a splendid Josh cartoon done specifically for the story. I’ve located what I think are the two comments that inspired Steve to write this essay – Anthony
We are approaching the 40th anniversary of the original Watergate burglaries. Although everyone has heard of the scandal, most people have either forgotten or are too young to remember that the purpose of the Watergate burglaries was to copy documents listing donors to the Democratic Party and their financial contributions, either hoping or expecting to find evidence of contributions from “bad” sources (the Cuban government).
Like the Watergate burglars, the objective of Gleick’s fraud against Heartland was to obtain a list of donors, expecting to find evidence of “bad” contributions to their climate program (fossil fuel corporations and the Koch brothers.) The identity of objectives is really quite remarkable. The technology of the Watergate burglars (break-in and photography) was different than Gleick’s (fraud and email). And the consequences of being caught have thus far been very different.
In today’s post, I’ll reconsider the backstory of the Watergate burglaries to place present-day analogies to the Watergate era in better context.
I was in mid-20s at the time of the Watergate events. Although it now looms large in contemporary history, it was a very minor story until relatively late in the chronology, when Nixon’s connections to the cover-up were finally established. (The Vietnam War was the dominant story of the day.) My own recollection of events (prior to researching) was mostly established by the movie hagiography of Woodward and Bernstein, though all of the names in the story (from Ellsberg to G. Gordon Liddy) were names familiar to me as a young man. Today’s post is written almost entirely from secondary sources (mostly Wikipedia articles unless otherwise cited), which seem accurate enough on chronological details.
Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers
I’ll start my review of Watergate with Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers, which have been cited in some quarters as precedents for Gleick.
The topic of this post was inspired by a witty remark by a commenter at Anthony’s. He wryly observed that Gleick was increasingly being described by his defenders, not as a “climate scientist”, but as a “water scientist”, and that the logical analogue of “climategate” was therefore “watergate”. From this ironic reminder, I browsed easily accessible information on the original Watergate burglary, which immediately showed that it too was about a search for a donors’ list.
Since Steve got his inspiration here, I thought it useful to highlight a couple of comments that likely contributed. I didn’t find any single comment that contained both points that Steve mentions, but I did find these two:
Tom_R says: February 21, 2012 at 7:31 pm
Since Dr. Gleick specialized in hydrology and was on a ‘water and technology’ board, maybe this should be called ‘WATERgate’.
What? That one’s already been taken?
=========================================Philip Bradley says: February 21, 2012 at 5:47 pm
Note how at Daily Kos and other media, Gleick is no longer a climate scientist, now merely a water analyst.
Read the full story, well worth your time: Gleick and the Watergate Burglars – by Steve McIntyre