UnManned

No, the post title is not a reference to a type of space vehicle.

So, last weekend, at The Corner, Mark Steyn semi-approvingly linked to my Open Market piece in which I compared the Michael Mann investigation at Penn State to the Jerry Sandusky cover up (Note: CEI has since deleted the specific references to Sandusky as “inappropriate” — I disagree, but that is their prerogative).

This morning, I got a query from Andrew Restuccia at Politico, who is doing a story on the fact that Mann is threatening National Review with a lawsuit if it doesn’t delete the Corner post and apologize.

Hi Rand.

I’m writing a short story on Michael Mann’s criticism of the National Review and CEI for comparing Penn State’s investigation of “climate gate” to the university’s investigation of Jerry Sandusky. As you probably know, Mann has asked National Review to retract its post and apologize, even threatening legal action.

The National Review post quoted heavily from a July 13 post you wrote on CEI’s Open Market blog. It appears that the reference to Mann being the “Jerry Sandusky of climate science” has since been removed. Do you have any comment on Mann’s criticism of the story? Why were those lines removed from the initial story? Just wanted to give you an opportunity to respond.

My response to him:

Andrew–

I don’t know why the lines were removed, other than the reason stated — that in retrospect CEI apparently considered them “inappropriate.” I would note that even before they were removed (by CEI, not me, as is their right, it being their web site), I made clear that my Sandusky comparison was to the fact that the Penn State administration covered up Mann’s behavior in a similar manner, not in the behavior itself, and I explicitly wrote (as one can presumably still see in the Steyn Corner post) that neither I or anyone was accusing him of child molestation.

In any event, if he does take legal action, a) he has already made himself a public figure (and used to enjoy it, until his unscientific proclivities became public) and b) even if he weren’t, neither I, nor Mark Steyn or anyone else have written anything actionable or false, as far as I know. But discovery should be entertaining if he proceeds (the University of Virginia might not be very happy about it), and likely to the detriment of his climate “science.” And after what Mark Steyn did to the speech police in Canada, I would certainly not want to take him on in court.

I think he’s just blowing smoke in hopes of getting a cheap “apology.” I guess if he does decide to come after me, I’ll crowd source a legal defense fund, or find someone to take it on pro bono. I suspect I’ll have no shortage of support.

Note that I am speaking entirely for myself, not CEI. I have not discussed this with anyone at CEI. I don’t know whether Ivan [Osorio, CEI editor] has anything to add.

Interestingly, he seems much more upset about the accusations of scientific fraud than about the Sandusky comparison (the latter is almost an afterthought in the lawyer’s letter). But does he really want to litigate the hockey stick in a court of law? Does he in fact want to dig into any of his unscientific behavior in a venue in which he will be under oath, and he won’t have sympathetic colleagues covering for him? Does he really want those emails to be read aloud in court? And has he talked to the University of Virginia? Even if they continue to fight the FOIA, how will they fight a subpoena for the missing emails in a civil lawsuit?

If this goes forward, discovery will be very interesting, and very entertaining. I suspect that Peter Sinclair will end up choking on his popcorn.

I do think he’s bluffing. And though I haven’t gotten a response from him, I’m guessing that Mark will call his bluff.

By the way, the usual suspects are outraged. For example: Phil Plait and Charles Johnson.

Of course, my piece was nothing compared to what John O’Sullivan did (check out the graphic). I wonder if he’ll be getting a letter from Mann’s lawyer, too?

[Update mid afternoon]

Ever since Instapundit linked to this post, my server has been slammed. I don’t know if it was a denial of service attack, or just a popular post, but I’ve disabled comments for now.

Here is the piece at Politico on the situation.

If you want to discuss this topic, go to this post instead.

4 thoughts on “UnManned

  1. Bart

    I will contribute to your legal defense fund if it comes to that. But, I doubt it will. Bullies generally retreat after encountering resistance.

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