Though much is said about the “blue code of silence” that prevents police officers from speaking out against the misdeeds of their colleagues, virtually nothing is said about a similar code among journalists.
Which is why Christopher Pala, whose inaccurate and biased anti-GMO article in The Guardian was thoroughly excoriated on this blog Sunday night, began whining and sniveling about the criticism his piece received from journalists Jan TenBruggencate, Allan Parachini and me:
Note that I have never met or communicated with any of the three. Nor have I ever had colleagues, known to me or not, complain to my editors or to me about my stories. It’s simply not something real journalists do.
In Chris' world, “real journalists” keep their mouths shut when they see their fellow reporters completely misrepresent an issue, stack sources to unfairly weight a story, disregard information that contradicts the position they've taken and regurgitate the propaganda that is spoon-fed to them by activists and other partisans.
How is that reporters are supposed to expose the bad behavior of everyone in the public eye — except their own media colleagues? Why does Chris — who acknowledged on his Facebook page (right above the post where he sympathizes with the anti-GMO marchers in Waikiki) that it's his first piece on pesticides — believe he should receive a free pass from those of who know the issue far better than he?
Chris was unhappy because Peter Adler, who is running the Joint Fact-Finding Group on pesticides, sent an email to The Guardian editors correcting errors that Chris made about the JFFG. Peter's email was sent in cooperation with Dr. Lee Evslin, who felt Chris had unfairly and inaccurately portrayed him as going rogue to conduct his own investigations independent of the JFFG, when in fact Dr. Evslin is working closely with the group.
Peter copied Jan, Allan, The Garden Island's Tom Hasslinger, Chris and me on his email, because he knows we've all been covering this issue. l also had reached out to Dr. Evslin to get his take on Chris' story. But to Chris, Peter's simple action of including us in a correction became “an organized attack on his good name.”
Chris' ego is so massive — on Facebook, he was gloating over how many shares and comments his Guardian piece had gotten — that he apparently couldn't possibly believe he'd been wrong, even when his errors were documented. No, we're all out to get him — even though he squandered his own good name on that POS story.
Chris went on to write, in an email to Peter, Dr. Evslin and the above-mentioned recipients:
But the fact that you copied all three to your own letter to the editor of the Guardian raises serious questions about your impartiality as a fact-gatherer on the GMO industry’s potential harm in Hawaii. All three individuals are widely believed here to be paid advocates for the industry, and I find plenty of evidence online to believe that myself.
Ah, yes. Ye tired olde shill accusation. In the small circle of anti-GMO activists that Chris interviewed, anyone who isn't fully on board with the anti-GMO movement, anyone who questions, criticizes or thinks for oneself, must be in the pocket of “the industry.”
But the real kicker was how Chris copied Gary Hooser in on the email he sent to Peter and the rest of us. As I replied to Chris:
If we are to accept your reasoning — that one's impartiality is determined by whom one copies on emails — what does it tell us about your objectivity now that you've inexplicably copied Gary Hooser, leader of the anti-GMO movement, in on this email? To borrow your words, Chris, "It's simply not something real journalists do."
As a “real journalist” friend of mine noted:
It's a pathetic dodge of the real issue, to wit: Is there any hard epidemiological evidence proving that the pesticide practices of seed companies on Kauai have caused birth defects in children? And the answer, to date, is that there is no such evidence. That is not to say that some future findings might point to a causative relationship between pesticide exposure and human health issues on Kauai. But, at present, no such evidence exists. We have only speculation. And that's the flaw in his reporting. Period.
In retweeting my post rebutting Chris' article, Dr. Calestous Juma, Professor of the Practice of International Development and Director of the Science, Technology, and Globalization Project at Harvard's Belfer Center, posted this graphic and wrote:
The situation is getting desperate.
Indeed. Bullshit, all across the ideological spectrum, is enjoying a heyday.
Which offers a perfect segue to Terry Lilley, the Kauai “scientist” who is trying to set policy while engaging in massive fear-mongering on this island. Much like the anti-GMO movement has done. As Terry posted on Instagram (you can click on images to enlarge):
If you ever had any doubts about Terry's credibility, that post alone should confirm them.