The Daily Mail has been forced to apologize for an article it published which suggested climate researchers in the United States were manipulating data.
In an article titled "Exposed: How world leaders were duped into investing billions over manipulated global warming data", the Daily Mail made bold claims that "a landmark paper exaggerated global warming" and that the report's remark that a pause in global warming didn't take place "was based on misleading, 'unverified' data".
In the lead bullet points and within the main body of the article, it also stated that the report was "rushed through and timed to influence the Paris agreement on climate change".
If this was true as the headline suggested, it would mean that world leaders had been misled by inaccurate data. But they hadn't. The Daily Mail article itself was inaccurate, and now the paper has been forced to apologize by the Independent Press Standards Organization (IPSO).
The story was shared a lot at the time of publication. Here it was shared by Lamar Smith, representative of the 21st District of TX in Congress and Chair the Science, Space, and Technology Committee.
The Daily Mail article, published February 5, stated that "top NOAA scientist" Dr John Bates had given the paper "irrefutable evidence" that a report by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) was "based on misleading, 'unverified' data."
The article said that Dr Bates had objected to the misleading data, and claimed that it had been manipulated.
"His vehement objections to the publication of the faulty data were overridden by his NOAA superiors in what he describes as a 'blatant attempt to intensify the impact' of what became known as the Pausebuster paper."
The news outlet went as far as to say that this would affect Trump's decision on the Paris agreement.
"His disclosures are likely to stiffen President Trump's determination to enact his pledges to reverse his predecessor's 'green' policies, and to withdraw from the Paris deal – so triggering an intense political row."
Whether this did play into Trump's decision-making is something we'll probably never know. However, the article was shared in significant numbers, even by politicians such as Representative Lamar Smith.
IPSO found that the Mail on Sunday had failed to correct “significantly misleading statements” from Dr John Bates.
"The newspaper had taken no steps to establish the veracity of Dr Bates' claims. World leaders had not been 'duped', as the headline said, and there was no 'irrefutable evidence' that the paper was based on 'misleading, unverified data', as the article had claimed."
However, IPSO's main concern was that the Daily Mail had not accurately reflected Dr Bates' concerns. They found that the newspaper had gone much further than the concerns outlined by Dr Bates in his blog and interview, in claiming that the world had been "duped" by "misleading" data.
IPSO also took issue with claims that data had been manipulated. It stated that the Daily Mail had implied there had been "willful attempt to deceive" by the NOAA. In the days following the publication of the Daily Mail's article, Dr Bates himself also said no data fraud had taken place, contrary to what was implied by the Mail.
IPSO also admonished the paper for creating a "significantly misleading impression" using a graph to illustrate the difference between "flawed" NOAA data and other "verified" data.
It pointed out "the newspaper's failure to plot the lines correctly" and noted that "there had been a further failure to correct the significantly misleading impression created as a result."
Despite a retraction, the article is still being shared around by climate change deniers. The headline on the piece remains unchanged, though if you were to click on the link you'd be greeted by the apology.
The investigation by IPSO followed a complaint from Bob Ward, Policy and Communications Director at the Grantham Research Institute on Climate Change and the Environment at the London School of Economics.
“It was fairly obvious right from the start it was bound to be suspicious because David Rose has a long history of promoting climate change denial,” Mr. Ward, who complained about the article, told the New York Times.
“It was grossly overblown, and that was clearly what he was trying to do.”
Unfortunately, it seems like the damage from the article has already been done. At the time of writing, the retraction only has 274 shares, whilst the original article is at nearly 200,000.