Michael Mann Loses His Media Allies as He Fights Transparency

Michael Mann Loses His Media Allies as He Fights Transparency
February 24, 2014

James M. Taylor, J.D.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)

Prominent global warming alarmist Michael Mann is losing his media allies as he fights transparency in government. The Associated Press, Washington Post, National Public Radio, and Reuters are part of a group of 18 media groups that filed a friend of the court brief urging the Virginia Supreme Court to put a stop to Mann hiding his taxpayer funded activities from public view.

Mann, a former employee of the publicly funded University of Virginia, has refused to comply with a Virginia Freedom of Information Act (VFOIA) request for emails he exchanged with other researchers on University of Virginia email accounts.

The media groups said public access to government activities trumps any asserted privacy concerns Mann asserted while using government email accounts.

“Exemptions to VFOIA must be narrowly interpreted to comply with the legislative intent behind the law and to ensure the public and the news media sufficient access to the government to promote an understanding of its operations,” the media groups observed in their court brief. “Public universities are necessarily included in VFOIA, and the media has a strong interest in being able to monitor university spending and operations.”

“While truly proprietary information in the possession of a public university should not be subject to request under VFOIA and in fact is properly exempted, email among professors is not entitled to a blanket treatment as proprietary. Instead, such communications are an essential part of the functioning of the university and must be subject to public scrutiny. Because such communications have been held not to implicate academic freedom, and because the type of email at issue here does not include unpublished information in which the professors or the university have a competitive interest, it must be subject to VFOIA,” the media groups added.

In a twist of irony, Mann sued fellow scientist Tim Ball when Ball said Mann “should be in the state pen, not Penn State” for Mann’s role in the Climategate scandal. Climategate emails revealed Mann receiving and forwarding a fellow global warming alarmist’s recommendation that they erase email correspondence conducted on government email accounts before people could submit Freedom of Information Act requests.

Mann frequently insults fellow scientists who disagree with him, painting them with such terms as “serial climate misinformer” and “anti-science.” He also accuses scientists who disagree with him as being shills for the energy industry. While sympathetic liberal media have provided cover for Mann’s juvenile name-calling, it appears his time as a media-protected climate alarmist is running short.

James M. Taylor, J.D.

James M. Taylor is managing editor of Environment & Climate News, a national monthly... (read full bio)