UPDATE 2 (15 May 2012): Media Watch don’t touch the story – perhaps next week.
UPDATE: As Marc reports in the comments, the ABC appears utterly oblivious to any of this, still parroting the same line:
“They include an email describing a physical threat to use a gun against an academic because the conference participant reportedly disagreed with the climate change research.” (source)
This is turning into the story that keeps on giving. After yesterday’s revelation that the one possible “threat” was actually an innocent discussion about culling kangaroos, now Legal Affairs editor Chris Merritt writes in The Weekend Australian:
Media Watch eyes climate scientist death threat claims
AFTER triggering a global news event with reports about death threats against climate scientists, the ABC and Fairfax Media are under investigation by Media Watch after a central plank supporting their reports was found to be non-existent.
Before the flaws in their reports were revealed, their versions of the truth had been picked up by Britain’s The Guardian and the scientific journal Nature.
The critical error in their reports, which has been revealed by The Australian, is that emails held by the Australian National University that were supposed to outline death threats against climate scientists have been independently assessed as containing no death threats.
Those emails were made public on Tuesday after a long Freedom of Information campaign by blogger Simon Turnill.
But when ABC radio chose to report on the affair yesterday, it did not reveal that the ABC had reported on June 5 last year that ANU climate scientists “have been targeted by death threats”.
Others who gave credence to the “death threats” story were Lateline presenter Tony Jones, who asked Chief Scientist Ian Chubb on June 22 last year whether he was worried that scientists were receiving death threats.
“Oh, absolutely,” Professor Chubb replied. “I mean, I think it’s appalling.”
Media Watch executive producer Lin Buckfield said yesterday one of her program’s researchers was examining reports on the affair that had been carried by The Australian, ABC news, Lateline and The Canberra Times. “If through our inquiries we decide that an item is warranted, we will proceed accordingly,” she said.
UPDATE: Cut & Paste (humorous editorial section) focusses on the same story here:
The report goes on to claim that the Canberra Times‘ reporting of the threats at ANU was “in tatters”, as were the associated reports by the ABC. It also correctly states that the ABC,
“focused on the abuse – not the fact that they provide documentary evidence that the ABC produced flawed reports that have not been corrected.”
The full article is here.