If opinions on the shape of the earth did differ would it be the place of journalists to choose a side? What if they chose the wrong side? What if they ended up supporting a war over non-existent weapons of mass destruction? Is that a possibility that should concern us?

Derek Thompson posts this chart

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and then says

As James Fallows pointed out here during the climate scientists’ email scandal, the New York Times treated global warming as a problem, and the Washington Post treated it more like a debate. This is silly. Global warming isn’t a debate. (and it’s alarming to watch the Washington Post sacrifice its integrity for some editorial hot air.)

Really? Are we to believe that the nearly 50-50 split among the American public is solely over the discount rate that we should use? 42 per cent says a Stern-like .01% , while the rest want to use the government’s long term average cost of funds?

I tend to think that there is genuine disagreement over the causes and consequences of global warming itself. This disagreement leads to differing assessments of what we should do to tackle the problem.

Now, Thompson might think that the 51% are tragically misinformed and that anyone who knows anything, knows that major action is needed now. Perhaps, he is even correct. However, that doesn’t make it “not a debate.”

According, to Greg Mankiw 93% of economists believe that raising tariffs decreases the general welfare. I am betting that most economic journalists believe the same thing. Promoting protectionism is a surefire way of getting yourself labeled an economic bumpkin. 

However, it would be madness to suggest that there is not a debate over protectionism in the United States. That well meaning people do not advocate for limits on what is imported in this country. Nor is it clear that if it was put to a vote, that broad free trade agreements would win.

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