Paul Dennis Article -Normal Editorial Process
Posted by Jeff Condon on August 17, 2011
I wrote to the Guardian several times after Steve McIntyre questioned them to see if they would simply state that they did not receive my full name from government sources. The best they would say was that there were plenty of ways any reporter worth his salt could find me. I kept at it despite the fact that the wiser Steve McIntyre had temporarily given up on the Guardian. Eventually though, I got the following interesting responses.
date Thu, Aug 11, 2011 at 5:22 AM
subject Your email to Damian Carrington
Dear Mr Condon,
Please excuse the delay getting back to you. Damian is away on holiday
(as is David Leigh) and as you may have seen we’ve had our hands full
over the last few days covering the disturbances here. All that Damian
meant by saying he was bemused by Steve’s questions about this report
was that Steve had offered no evidence at all to suggest that we had
obtained the information for that piece improperly, but seemed
determined to pursue a line of reasoning that we had said was not
true. We’ve explained quite clearly that nothing illegal or unethical
was done to acquire the information you and Steve have asked about.
You will understand that I can’t go into our sourcing in any more
detail but it’s worth pointing out that I’ve been looking back at your
blog and there was plenty of material there and elsewhere on the web
prior to the Feb 2010 piece that could easily have been put together
to find you. There are references to your surname as you know, a
reference to your “non-representative in Congress” Deborah Halvorson
that locates you in Illinois’s 11th congressional district, a
reference to the Dresden nuclear plant near Morris and to your day job
as an engineer. I’m pretty sure that between all that and the White
Pages (there aren’t many Condons in Morris) any reporter worth his
salt would have been able to track you down. I hope that goes some way
to putting your mind at rest.
Environment and science news editor
I’m no black-ops MI6 spy by any means, but were it through public sources, the discovery of my name should be easily identifiable as public with very little risk to them. Lies exposed are difficult problems for media so I do take them at their word on this. I asked again, with a small question added as an afterthought that I expected nothing for.
Thank you for the reply. It seems you have spent more time looking around my blog than I have so hopefully you have learned a bit about climate science. I didn’t ever and still don’t believe the Guardian did anything difficult or illegal to find me because I am a non-story other than the value of distraction from climategate. What I still suspect though is that government sources were in fact the method used to disclose my name. As I have requested several times, if you specifically confirm that it was not a government source used to locate me but a public one I would be happy to publish your claim at my blog? No more detail than that required. I’m sure you realize that there is sufficient evidence for a reasonable person to guess that the information of my identity came from the police. If you recall, the Paul Dennis emails quoted by the Guardian in the same article were in fact only in the hands of the police and UEA at that time and the Guardian article by Leigh specifically named the police as the source. Your group was in possession of some very unusual information at that point in an “investigation”.
Also, since the article had little merit of any kind other than to potentially create distraction from the climategate fraud, could you confirm that there was no contact with any outside publishing group to initiate the article?
My italics here of course. They could have said – actually we don’t know the exact public source anymore but it was not government related, we don’t have records of the sourcing, we got it from public information, we got it from a non-police source. Whatever they want with no real answer. Except they answered like this:
Thanks for your swift response. As I have explained I’m afraid that we
just don’t talk about sourcing of stories. However, I hope the
material I alluded to in my previous email demonstrates that there
would be no need to use “government sources” to find you – there is
plenty of information on the web and on your blog.
This article was part of our extensive reporting into the UEA emails
and their unlawful release. It was initiated by our normal editorial
processes, not any outside publishing group.
So understandably, it as a matter of policy that they simply don’t talk about the sourcing of stories. Here is a link to the story in question.
According to files obtained by police, he wrote: “Hi Steve, Yesterday we received the following email, sent to all staff in environmental sciences and the climatic research unit. I have no idea what stuff was collected or where it was posted, but interesting nonetheless!”
Oddly, they chose to disclose the police as the source of this information in the linked article. I’m sure that everyone wonders why the press had access to specific information in an ongoing unbiased investigation of an incident of such obviously global importance. My wife and I also found it amusing that the second paragraph of the email sent to me discloses the source of the Paul Dennis article as internal, right after explaining that their policy is not to discuss sources even in general discounting terms.
Perhaps disclosure of sources isn’t as much a rule as a selectively permeable membrane of information controlled by the wise god’s of print. Alternatively, it may be that James did answer my question to the best that his current personal situation allowed. After all, no need for government sources is not the same as no use of government sources.