Ross Gelbspan’s disappearing act of inconvenient climate dialog

The Need to Screencapture Global Warming Promoters’ Words (because what’s seen on the internet cannot be unseen)

Guest essay by Russell Cook

Just over two weeks ago, my blog piece here explained how Ross Gelbspan’s claim about industry intimidation of a top television editor seemed faulty.  My 7th paragraph had a screencapture photo link showing a quote from Gelbspan’s web site media tirade, where he described the person more specifically as a CNN editor. As courtesy to anyone wanting to see the full context of his web page, I also provided a direct link to it. Sometime between November 18th and yesterday, his paragraph about the CNN editor disappeared from that page… along with other important material there.

It isn’t hard to spot what happened, click on each thumbnail below to enlarge them in a new window. To create these on my computer, I screencaptured two web page windows side-by-side, the left being what the last Internet Archive of Gelbspan’s page looked like on April 30th of this year, and the right window of his current page as it looked earlier today.

Heatisonline 7743 alterations 1

Right from the top, you see the current version is missing the older one’s first, third and fifth paragraphs. Those happened to be important bits supporting what I said in my August 16 blog piece about the 1995 Washington Post article Gelbspan co-authored with Paul Epstein, specifically the bit where I mentioned “the 3rd & 7th paragraphs at his web site’s reproduction of his May 5, 2010 talk“. Citations of his current page’s paragraphs about Epstein and the events resulting from a letter-writer backlash against the WashPo article become senseless when those paragraphs are missing and its formerly seventh one is now out-of-context in a new position.

Heatisonline 7743 alterations 2

Now you see it, now you don’t. Notice how the left side shows Gelbspan’s unmistakable labeling of the editor as one from CNN right after the highlighted words, while the right side shows how that paragraph is now missing, and the one that previously followed it has moved up, but now starts with the word “Finally”…. an odd alteration since another paragraph just two places down also started with “Finally”.

Heatisonline 7743 alterations 3

Things get really sloppy here. The first two highlighted words at the current page are now an incomplete sentence, while the paragraph below is stupidly pulled up and lacking its first line indentation. Above the big gap, the words “catastrophic future” used to be eight paragraphs further up the page. Notice how the right side window’s slider is so much taller than the left window’s slider. That’s an indication of how much is missing from the current page content.

Heatisonline 7743 alterations 4

At the bottom of both pages, it is again easy to see how much is now deleted. In another strange turn, the dates are now gone, as is the description of where this speech was presented.

For a page that has apparently existed since at least early May 2010, it seems odd that such big changes would be made in only the last two weeks. Rummage through the previous iterations of his page at the Internet Archive, and you’ll see the only prior changes were very minor ones to the dates at the top and bottom sometime between October 7, 2011 – January 5th 2012, and a change to the background images between September 12, 2011 – July 29, 2011. That’s all. Copy ‘n paste the paragraph text from the earliest and latest archive pages separately into a word count site and a word frequency site, and you’ll see the identical 3676 total word count and identical word frequency counts.

Simple questions to ask here:  Would Gelbspan, a demonstratively good print editor, alter that page and tolerate the shoddy wording and other errors, or was an assistant told to chop out paragraphs, and that person did a bad job of it? Could some sympathizer have hacked into his site and altered that page? Were all those alterations just a random circumstance, or were they done because two blog pieces of mine referred to questionable material in his page? And most basic of all, if Gelbspan’s tirade against the media contained compelling details about a news outlet’s top TV news editor being threatened by a sinister industry group because they didn’t like the outlet’s global warming reports, why would there be any need for someone to remove that reference? You’d think the story would be expanded to include more damaging details.

We can ask a funny question, too. If whoever it was that deleted paragraphs from Gelbspan’s web site thinks this is a success, will this effort be considered a resounding Streisand Effect failure if all those copies of the paragraphs (including ones in the 11/14/13 Google cache copy) are still out there needing to be deleted? Won’t this strange disappearance of material from Gelbspan’s site cause more wavering supporters of man-caused global warming to wonder why this issue is so dependent on hiding details from public view?

Just askin’. The efforts to portray skeptic climate scientists as crooks don’t look the least bit solid. Visualize this whole mess as a huge building with heavy smoke billowing from every opening, where every new effort to hide faults only looks like yet more flare-ups of smoke. Where there’s smoke, there’s fire, and I’m just a guy on the street pointing it out to open-minded journalists and other investigative ‘firefighters’ who can comprehend such smoke for what it is: a situation begging for them to warn everyone what’s burning down.


Ross Gelbspan is an American writer and activist. He has written two books relating to global warming– The Heat Is On (1997) and Boiling Point (2004).

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December 5, 2013 10:57 am

Why go back and change what you have previously written when all you need to do is reference and indicate you have other thoughts and opinions after some reflection?

December 5, 2013 11:08 am

Anthony – as the old Bartles & Jaymes ad goes, “Thank you for your support”.
Bob Greene says: December 5, 2013 at 10:57 am”Why go back and change what you have previously written…. ” My educated guess is that our good friend and long-time skeptic scientist trasher told a tale that may not have necessarily happened the way he described it, see:
The ‘television editor told me “We did. Once.”’ Problem

December 5, 2013 11:20 am

Cannot see the thumbnails for some reason….

December 5, 2013 11:30 am

I know they are a “broadcast” medium, but did they honestly never know about web archives?

December 5, 2013 11:52 am

Good catch, Russell Cook! Thx for highlighting this shady behavior, Anthony!
P.s. New hysterical campaign building on social media:

December 5, 2013 11:55 am

Don’t be shy Russell – Gelbspan is the creator of the “skeptics are on the pay of Big Oil” myth and single, lonely, unique, only source of it.

December 5, 2013 11:58 am

“The moving finger writes ; and having writ, moves on;
nor all your piety nor wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line,
nor all thy tears wash out a word of it ”
Omar Khayyám

December 5, 2013 12:09 pm

Sorry for OT but Boston Globe is Gelbspan’s original site of operations, and this campaign to suppress dissent is building anew. So Op-ed columnist Jeff Jacoby writes a reasoned piece arguing that it is wrong to suppress all contrary voices in climate change debate, and the response of the activists at “MothersOutFront” is to launch a shrill petition campaign demanding that Jacoby and all similar voices be silenced.
Here is the Jacoby column that touched off such Alarmist over-reaction:
(note: the Boston Globe covers the article with an invitation to subscribe, but you can minimize the pop-up and still read the article)

December 5, 2013 12:13 pm

As this whole thing continues to unravel you will see more and more revisionism going on by people like Ross Gelbspan. They are becoming desperate. If you have ever visited his website, it is amusing to think that he considers himself a “reporter” and not an environmentalist or activist.

December 5, 2013 12:15 pm

Thanks Russell, very good article on a dying species.

December 5, 2013 12:54 pm

A looming climate catastrophe, yet its proponents have closed door meetings discussing the amount of money needed to avert the crisis.
Nice work if you have the stomach for it.

December 5, 2013 1:13 pm

I would not be suprised if the EPA declares these types of folks an “endangered species” to help protect them. SARC/
Speaking of such, I recall seeing a windpower company lose a lawsuit recently for killing protected birds and being fined. I gotta find that again and put it in tips if it has not already been done.
Nice job Russell !

December 5, 2013 1:21 pm

Skiphil says:
December 5, 2013 at 12:09 pm

I followed your link to Jeff Jacoby’s op-ed in the Globe. I read a page of the comments. It is dismaying (though not surprising, considering who reads the Globe) how many of the commenters are reflexively spouting the Alarmist orthodoxy about melting glaciers, warming seas, and the fabulous “97 percent.” Not a bit of the science routinely discussed here on WUWT seems to have penetrated the skulls of these camp followers.
The Climatists aggressively pursue propaganda campaigns to keep the hoi polloi marching in lockstep. Not to suggest that Climate Realists should do anything similar, but one has to wonder what it will take, short of a full plunge into another glaciation, to wake people up to the utter vacuousness of Alarmist arguments. “How can we put millions of tons of CO2 into the atmosphere, and cut down millions of acres of forests, and not expect that we’ll be heating up the Earth,” rants one who calls himself an “engineer” (paraphrase). By golly, global warming must be true.
Never mind that it’s an empirical question. Neither of the words “empirical” nor “question” are in their vocabularies. How to we get them there?
/Mr Lynn

December 5, 2013 1:23 pm

Last sentence should be: How DO we get them there? /Mr L

December 5, 2013 1:26 pm

Who controls the past controls the future.
Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell

December 5, 2013 1:38 pm

Thanks for the encouraging words, all.
@ omnologos, December 5, 2013 at 11:55 am: “Don’t be shy Russell – Gelbspan is the creator of the “skeptics are on the pay of Big Oil” myth ….”
You are too nice to me, and offer a line for me to exploit….. Please see: “The First, the Last, and the Only Accusation Against Skeptics. Repeat it Often, Inexplicable Errors are Optional”

December 5, 2013 1:52 pm

The first thing liberals liberate themselves from is Truth.

Steve C
December 5, 2013 2:00 pm

“The Heat Is Online”? The light, too, it seems, when you use the Wayback Machine right. Congratulations Russell on spotting it, and minus ten thousand points to whoever exactly was responsible for yet another “Damning Betrayal of Public Trust” (unquote).

December 5, 2013 2:03 pm

The grand plan included large wealth redistribution via the Climate fraud.
Those who stand in the gate of this lust for power know well the bus driver
and the bus know how to run anyone down and make it stick.
Be Prepared.

December 5, 2013 2:07 pm

ROM says:
December 5, 2013 at 1:26 pm
Who controls the past controls the future.
Who controls the present controls the past.
George Orwell
The good news is that the Internet has been a powerful force for freedom and democracy. The lame stream media are no longer the gatekeepers of opinion and records. Citizens now have control, we control the records of the past. All the old escape routes that the global warmists hope to be able to use are no longer workable. “Winston Smith”, “walk-back”, “issue fade and replace” and “snowstorm” are all lame stream media techniques that don’t work in the age of the Internet.
Anyone researching where the “well funded denialist machine” paid for by “big oil” and “dirty coal” narrative started, quickly finds that all roads lead to Ross. Gelbspan can scrub like Lady Macbeth, he can even use the Scotchbrite, but the putrescent stain of global warming advocacy wilt not out.
Gelbspan was a propagandist and a liar? No. Gelbspan IS a propagandist and a liar. Forever.
Gelbspan vilified sceptics to silence dissent. Sceptics will never forgive and the Internet will never forget.
Should we forgive and forget once the collapse of the AGW inanity is over? No. If there is no penalty for the crime, current and future intellectual criminals will offend again. The sceptic citizens who control the records of the past have a responsibility to the future.

December 5, 2013 2:20 pm

This Gelbspan character sure is hamming it up as a beefy sophisticate:

December 5, 2013 2:39 pm

It’s the good old plastic Thanksgiving turkey meme. We know it’s not actually true BUT it feels like it could have been so therefore feel free to contextualise it whenever it suits your argument.

December 5, 2013 2:46 pm

And the corollary is of course to delete or deny the meme it when it doesn’t.

Follow the Money
December 5, 2013 2:51 pm

“Where there’s smoke, there’s fire,”
The likely connection is the writer wishes to erase comments negative to the energy and automotive industries is because he is now likely in the employ of the same to some degree. The Mother “GE, BP” Jones “journalists” all seem to be on the dole from the industry, wall street, government “education” grants, or charitable fronts. But discussions of the financial and industrial money managing and shaping the “climate change” discourse seem too often to evoke knee jerk reactions from the right wing cranks, so I’ll end it with my name.

December 5, 2013 3:34 pm

Cook ==> Have you asked Gelbspan?

December 5, 2013 4:28 pm

Kip ==> What would you expect a proven liar to say except another lie?
As omnologos points out, this is the get of gets. Desmogblog is defunct. Almost every post shat from Joe Romm is in need of rewrite due to Gelbspan’s almost clandestine retraction.
Here’s what I would ask Gelbspan. Did your conscious hit? Did you suddenly realize your progeny would have to live in the hell your lies were designed to create?
Or was it a case of jumping ship before the ship S.S. Global Warming went under?

Kip Hansen
December 5, 2013 5:14 pm

Hmmm…I’m sorry, have I missed something…did Gelbspan announce a retraction?
Is there more to this than Cook gives above?
It is perfectly normal to ask someone if they’ve done something…if there is no other data than what Cook provides, it could just be some sort of web file corruption.

December 5, 2013 5:36 pm

Isn’t this the guy that has been fraudulently claiming to have one a Pulitzer Prize for years?

December 5, 2013 6:39 pm

Kip Hansen says: December 5, 2013 at 5:14 pm: “… it could just be some sort of web file corruption.”
I appreciate the skepticism, a healthy thing to have. But on the idea of file corruption, I don’t think that is what this is. When the page was unaltered for 3 1/2 years until not long after I mentioned a highly questionable problem with it, and when we see how the word “Finally” is now seen at the beginning of a particular paragraph where it was not seen before, as I noted about the #2 screenshot, I doubt that the changes could be attributed to random file corruption. And then there were the deletions of other paragraphs that I had pointed out in an August blog piece.
As I show at my blog in ongoing fashion, and as I told about in my nearly four prior years to writing about Gelbspan ( ), this particular questionable situation is only one among a growing pile of problems regarding Gelbspan – his “Pulitzer” label, how/when/where he ‘obtained’ leaked memos he claims are proof of skeptic scientists’ fossil fuel industry corruption, how/when he claims he first learned of skeptic scientists’ ‘corruption’, his claims about not being an environmentalist, his claims that particular words are seen in a coal association’s annual report when they are NOT there, the way his claims don’t match what other people say, how nobody independently has corroborated his accusation against skeptic scientists, on and on and on.
Please re-read my third-to-last and final paragraphs. I’m just one guy with practically no influence. The people who need to ask Gelbspan about the missing web page content, and about all those questions above and many more, are the ‘firefighters’ I mentioned in my last paragraph, because if the mainstream media has long operated on the assumption that Watts, McIntyre, Monckton, Soon, Singer, Michaels, Idso, Lindzen, Morano, Heartland, CFACT and other prominent skeptics are shills of ‘big coal & oil’, and that assumption is traceable to Gelbspan, we have a monster problem that needs to be solved.

Mr Green Genes
December 6, 2013 1:57 am

Skiphil says:
December 5, 2013 at 11:52 am
Good catch, Russell Cook! Thx for highlighting this shady behavior, Anthony!
P.s. New hysterical campaign building on social media:>/i>
Apologies to all but am I the only one whose thoughts veered towards Pamela Anderson when first reading about Mothers Out Front?
(I shall be neither surprised nor upset if the mods decide to snip this on the grounds of taste or decency, or both.)

[After due consideration, the mods decide that snipping any one or more threads from anythong covering one or more Pamela Anderson parts may violate the family-friendly posting guidelines about the two topics the writer brings forward. ]

Steve Keohane
December 6, 2013 5:37 am

Mr Green Genes says: December 6, 2013 at 1:57 am
P.s. New hysterical campaign building on social media:

I was curious about their take, and am now more so since the page no longer exists.

Steve Keohane
December 6, 2013 5:46 am

Went back to the original Skiphil says:December 5, 2013 at 11:52 am link to the Boston Globe article. Seems like a decent skeptical perspective. The comments seem to reveal many more who did not like the article than did. Don’t know if it just Boston, but skepticism doesn’t seem to be taking a hold there.

Craig Loehle
December 6, 2013 7:58 am

We have always been at war with Eastasia…

December 6, 2013 8:30 am

Reply to Russel Cook ==> Sir, you really must take more responsibility. If you think Gelbspan, or his webmaster, has done something nefarious, you should ask them about it, at least as a courtesy. Journalists nearly always call or email the “target” of an exposé with something along the line of “I’m doing a piece about your alleged Bahamian holiday with your sexy secretary, any comment?”
I have created, in my career, thousands, maybe hundreds of thousands, of web pages, both the old way–by hand–and through varying degrees of complex automaticity. The ease with which things can get screwed up can not be overestimated.
The Gelbspan web page is obviously inexpertly edited, which can result from tweaked files. However, some materials has been added and some deleted. The original file is said to be a transcript, the second it not.
Why don’t you ask him? You are the self-assigned Gelbspan fighter. So get on with it.
PS: I do some writing myself and have found that it doesn’t hurt at all to send a professionally worded letter or email — rather painless — sometimes they answer, sometimes they don’t. Usually they do. I have made some harsh accusations and received both harsh and pleasant replies. Sometimes, writing to an “underling” gets better response. In this case, like the webmaster or content editor of his web site….you looked for a particular quote in the place you have always found it and it has gone missing….perfectly normal to ask what’s become of it.

December 6, 2013 11:35 am

@Kip Hansen, December 6, 2013 at 8:30 am: “… If you think Gelbspan, or his webmaster, has done something nefarious, you should ask them about it, at least as a courtesy. Journalists nearly always call or email the “target” of an exposé with something along the line of …”
Trust me on that point, I understand. This may yet happen sooner than later, however, it would involve more than just that one question, and it would be my preference that it would involve some muscle behind me. As I’ve said before and elsewhere, Gelbspan appears to have many narrative derailments.
Among all of those plaguing him is ironically his own ‘politeness’ hypocrisy as a career journalist. To quote from Fred Singer’s 1998 review of Gelbspan’s first book ( ), which trashed Dr Singer with unsupported accusations:
“We have yet to catch a glimpse of Gelbspan here at SEPP. In gathering material for his book, he never visited our offices, spoke to no one on staff, and never contacted Fred Singer for an interview to cover point-by-point the claims he later made in his book. He has had no contact with the Project whatsoever. … What Ross Gelbspan has confirmed in The Heat is On is not some multimillion-dollar global conspiracy but his ignorance of the issues and the inadequacy of his own skills as a reporter.”
It’s long been my goal to extend the courtesy to Gelbspan that he did not give to Fred Singer, but this must be done in the most effective manner possible. Stay tuned.

December 6, 2013 12:16 pm

Cook ==> You go get ’em!

December 6, 2013 2:20 pm

It is perfectly normal to ask someone if they’ve done something…if there is no other data than what Cook provides, it could just be some sort of web file corruption.
If could be pixie dust too, but I’d like some evidence — at least a hint — that some web corruption has occurred.
If you look at the source html, you see what can only be politely described as a hideous mess.
To me it looks like the original has been inexpertly edited in the html version to make the corrections that Russell has noted. For example, the blank h1 lines, which is what you get if you use as WYSIWYG editor in html to make changes, and not what you get if you revise and paste in whole. There are also double bolded sections etc.
Line 485 still has the “CNN” in the bogus span code at the front that alphabetises the following paragraphs BTW.

December 7, 2013 8:40 am

@ Mooloo, December 6, 2013 at 2:20 pm: “… it looks like the original has been inexpertly edited in the html version to make the corrections that Russell has noted …”
Details like that – which I don’t have the first clue about figuring out – is exactly the reason why I need to get real muscle behind me if I and/or anyone else goes asking Gelbspan about this detail and other details. It’s also a reason why I didn’t go hurling accusations outright, but posed the idea that an inept assistant might be responsible, or a sympathetic hacker that Gelbspan doesn’t even know about.
But the larger point is that we have a situation that begs for investigation, because is is just one of a seemingly unending line of problems with the guy who happens to have every appearance of being the epicenter of the accusation that skeptic climate scientists are paid shills working for ‘big coal & oil’. This particular incident about the ‘CNN editor intimidated by industry people’ should have been questioned by mainstream media journalists back around 2004 when he first started pushing that narrative, just to be certain there really was an actual industry conspiracy to steer the issue via lying shill scientists.

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