Wave of cancellations hits NY Times over broadened opinion section

by WorldTribune Staff, May 1, 2017

The New York Times’ decision to run an op-ed piece by a so-called “climate change denier” sent a number of the paper’s readers into a frenzy, with many canceling or threatening to cancel their subscriptions.

In his debut column for the Times, Bret Stephens on April 28 wrote that inaccurate polling data during the 2016 presidential campaign proves that science can miss the mark in other fields, such as climate change.

Bret Stephens

“There’s a lesson here. We live in a world in which data convey authority. But authority has a way of descending to certitude, and certitude begets hubris,” Stephens wrote.

Stephens’ column garnered over 1,500 comments, many from angry readers who said it went too far and that they would be dropping their subscriptions.

Times editorial page editor James Bennett told the Huffington Post that Stephens was hired as part of an effort to “further widen” the paper’s range of views.

Bennet said there “are many shades of conservatism and many shades of liberalism,” and the Times owes it to readers to “capture a wide range.” He also said that it’s “terribly unfair” to label Stephens a climate denier.

“There’s more than one kind of denial,” he said. “And to pretend like the views of a thinker like Bret, and the millions of people who agree with him on a range of issues, should simply be ignored, that they’re outside the bounds of reasonable debate, is a really dangerous form of delusion.”

Along with a slew of outraged readers, Stephens’ column also prompted backlash from academics such as Stefan Rahmstorf, the head of Earth System Analysis at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research.

In a letter to the executive editor, Rahmstorf wrote: “I enjoy reading different opinions from my own, but this is not a matter of different opinions. The Times argued that ‘millions agree with Stephens.’ It made me wonder what’s next — when are you hiring a columnist claiming that the sun and stars revolve around the Earth, because millions agree with that?”