Micheal Calderone reports that FiveThirtyEight Apologizes On Behalf Of Controversial Climate Science Writer, after several climate scientists said Roger Pielke Jr., of FiveThirtyEight, sent "emails threatening legal action" due to their criticisms of his work.
Pielke says it's "ridiculous" to characterize the emails as threats against Michael Mann, director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, and Dr. Kevin Trenberth, a distinguished senior climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research. FiveThirtyEight, however, apologized to both men.
"Roger is a freelance contributor and his private communications do not represent FiveThirtyEight," Silver said in a statement to HuffPost. "We had candid conversations with Michael Mann and Kevin Trenberth. We made clear that Roger's conversations with them did not reflect FiveThirtyEight's editorial values."
Rather than use my third paragraph to jump down into salacious details which you can read in the original article, perhaps it would be more gracious to cut a former Kossack a little slack and give the last word to a very classy statement by Nate Silver.
"We appreciate your patience in the meantime," Silver wrote. "Climate change is not going away as an issue, and we want to get this right. All journalism relies on trust -- between reporters and sources, between editors and writers, between a publication and its readers. Any time that trust is undermined, it’s a huge concern for us. We thank you for your continued feedback. We’re listening and learning."
As a fellow human being in a world vastly more complicated than any of us can navigate we will all screw up at some point. One distinguishing characteristic of effective leaders is the ability to recognize and admit error, learn lessons, communicate them to multiple stakeholders, implement changes, and move on. Here we also see confirmation of that age old wisdom:
To err is human,
to really screw up badly
requires an expert.
When such experts acknowledge error and attempt to correct them we should be gracious enough to give them a fighting chance. Let's hope Nate fixes this mess. I shouldn't give any advice because I do not know any of the details only he can know from inside his own perspective, however I hope he considers the option of letting Roger Pielke Jr. freelance from a much greater distance and acquires several additional or even replacement science writers, who have some respect for and knowledge of science.
This article has extensive quotes with all parties and snippets of the emails so please consider this just a teaser and an alert, as it is getting late on Friday night.