Does the News of the World Scandal Reach as Far as Climategate?

Photo by Edgar Zuniga Jr. Some rights reserved.

Before anger and controversy gave way to shaving-cream-pie related antics yesterday, the big story of the week was the phone-hacking debacle surrounding Rupert Murdoch-owned News of the World, a popular tabloid in the UK which has now been accused of both intercepting phone calls and emails of celebrities, politicians, and the families of September 11th victims and paying off Scotland Yard to keep the affair under wraps.

At progressive environmental news site Climate Progress, editor Joe Romm takes a look at how the News of the World scandal indicates that the same party may have played a role in 2009’s “Climategate” incident, in which hundreds of private emails and documents from the University of East Anglia’s Climatic Research Unit (the British database of global temperature records) were made public. The documents were initially thought to display manipulated data that inflates the cause of climate scientists, and was considered by advocates for climate control to be a part of a smear campaign aimed to undermine the then-upcoming climate change summit in Copenhagen. Though an inquiry and review by the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee earlier this year found that the leaked documents were factually sound, Romm remained skeptical, asking in an earlier post regarding the accuracy of the documents: “If anyone can find any serious U.S. media coverage of this, please post it.”

Now, in the aftermath of the News of the World scandal, Romm has called for an independent investigation relating the leaked CRU documents to the publication. As he points out, we now know that Scotland Yard, who were tasked with the immediate investigation of the leaked documents, were receiving £1000 a day from NotW executive editor Neil Wallis, who was arrested last week for his role in illegally intercepting communications.

“In the light of the News Corp phone-hacking scandal,” Romm writes, “it is clear that Murdoch’s outfit had means, motive, and opportunity for the Climategate email hacking.” Of course, Romm admits his case is based mostly on speculation and, of course, the massive amount of corruption involved so far in the still-unraveling News Corp scandal. And of course we could further speculate on the political-leanings of most Murdoch-owned media, or highlight a story from late last year that found in a leaked email that Fox News anchors were under strict orders from above to get “on-message” regarding climate change. Certainly, given the circumstances, Romm has a right to at least be suspicious. But let’s just see what happens, shall we?

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