Richard North, writing on his EU Referendum blog, has a stonking post that demonstrates the power of substance over spin – while underlining how far the media’s standards have fallen as it publishes assertions in letters columns that are demonstrably false; written by people posing as ordinary members of the public but who are in fact part of environmental organisations.
North is having none of it, and rightly so, as the historical evidence-backed facts about the use of the North East Passage roundly pull to pieces Roger Plenty’s fanciful fiction. North’s post is a triumph of substance over eco spin.
But perhaps there is more to this story. It seems Plenty’s flight of fancy on the Telegraph’s letters page can be attributed to misleading ‘news’ reporting by the Telegraph itself. Booker’s inconvenient truths have got under Roger Plenty’s skin before because this isn’t the first time Plenty has been motivated to send a letter to the Telegraph in response to Booker on the subject of Arctic Ice. In September 2007, Plenty contributed this letter (below, scroll down on this page) citing a source for his inaccurate claim:
So it is not just sloppy fact checking by the letters editor, the Telegraph’s news editor let misleading information through into publication. Small wonder the eco activist Roger Plenty felt on safe ground to make his assertion four years on. Granted he is referring to the North West Passage back then and the North East Passage today, but there is a reason they are both known as ‘passages’ – namely that shipping could transit through them, which is a matter of record.
What this shows is that the media has a lot to answer for, publishing information without context, or omitting key facts, that falls apart under scrutiny of the evidence. To his credit, North was making this point in respect of the Telegraph back in 2008. But it is time we found out whether it is mere sloppiness or if the Failygraph is deliberately complicit in furthering the spread of misinformation?
Regardless, Roger Plenty and his ludicrous claims have been completely discredited, which is an important part of ensuring more people get the facts and are reminded not to believe everything they read in the press.