I will probably be cast into journalistic hell for writing this counterspin to the Plain Dealer editorial board’s outpouring of praise for Kevin O’Brien, the deeply conservative deputy editorial page editor and columnist who opted for a buyout from the state’s biggest newspaper. I won’t go into the frills of his colleagues’ admiration of the longtime polemicist who sniffed and snorted at the slightest hint of the country’s alleged drift to the left. For me, his departure will create some fresh air for his assault on the chorus of scientists – 97 percent of them on stage for curtain calls – to ratify the phenomenon of climate change. Or as Cleveland Scene Magazine put it: the paper’s “older white male screaming his ‘opinion’ in the direction of the deepest , dumbest suburbs, so wrongheaded and destitute of logic and citation that Scene, in the mid-aughts, began a column devoted to his work”.
O’Brien was never convinced that seeing what nearly everybody else saw was at all persuasive. So in one of his recent columns he flew off the page by calling the climate experts “warm-mongers”, “hucksters”, and everyone in their ranks who subvert the narrative simply to make money. He even blamed the media that “work hard to keep conditions ideal for the warm-mongers no matter what the weather is up to.”
“Scary stories, ” he has reported, because that’s what they are. Fortunately the polar bears floating on breakaway ice aren’t PD subscribers. Andhe rising ocean waters are too complicated for me for me to dip into. The headline on the column captured the true O’Brienistic spirit: “Climate change snow job a reliable forecast. “ Teehee.
I’ve had several one-on-one encounters with O’Brien. So none of his forays into the dark side on climate startles me. He once warned me that as a liberal journalist I ought to be careful because when the bad invaders crash our shores, I would be the first they would come after. Several years ago when I asked him whether he would accept such federal programs as Medicare and Social Security when he retired, he said that wasn’t really a problem because the programs would have collapsed before he retired. Fortunately for the rest of us, they’ll still be around long after he’s gone.
I have no expertise in the science of climate change. So if you believe it’s as consequential to to our planetary existence as I do, placing our fate in the people who know a lot about such things, I would recommend the experts in National Geographic’s April issue, the widely respected publication that goes to the greatest lengths of research to explain our world.
Meantime, I can safely argue that with O’Brien out of the show, that’s one for our side!