Sacramento State history professor Joseph A. Palermo set off a conservative firestorm after writing that people who deny climate change “shouldn’t be allowed” to use social media, GPS-directed drones or nuclear weapons.
“I’ve always believed that people who dismiss science in one area shouldn’t be able to benefit from science in others,” he wrote Dec. 27 on the Huffington Post website. “If Trump and his cohort believe the science of global warming is bogus then they shouldn’t be allowed to use the science of the Internet for their Twitter accounts, the science of global positioning for their drones, or the science of nuclear power for their weaponry.”
Palermo began to receive hate mail when conservative websites ran stories about the column. He subsequently agreed to appear on “Tucker Carlson Tonight” on Fox News because he wanted to clear up a misconception that he wanted Trump censored, he said.
The next five minutes weren’t exactly what he had expected.
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“I am assuming you were speaking not literally but figuratively about Trump being banned from Twitter,” Carlson said. “I don’t imagine as a professor you are in favor of banning people from expressing themselves. But what point were you trying to make?”
Palermo said he was trying to make a rhetorical point. “It was uncontroversial of me to accept the science of climate change that 98 percent of the world scientists believe is true. No amount of ideology will change the physics of that,” he said.
Carlson repeatedly asked how Palermo came up with the 98 percent figure.
“Are you a scientist or have you polled scientists?” he said. “How did you get that figure?”
Palermo fumbled for answers, mentioning the Pentagon, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, California governor and state Legislature.
Palermo said he wasn’t prepared to defend climate change when he came on the show. “I’m the one who walked into it because I brought up 98 percent,” he said Friday. “The reason I couldn’t quote it was because I’ve read it in like 50 places.”
He said he received 50 negative emails and blocked 200 people from his Twitter account after they sent various messages, including one suggesting that he commit suicide and another saying he is lower than vermin, he said.
Palermo forwarded some of the email to Laura Dunham, an associate producer for “Tucker Carlson Tonight.”
“On a personal note: I’m so, so sorry about the hate mail,” she responded. “Those emails you forwarded me were filled with very cruel and ugly things. I hate to see that.”
A Fox News staff member said no one was available to comment on the Palermo appearance.
The segment gave conservative bloggers another run at Palermo.
“The Daily Caller and The Blaze said I got owned by Tucker Carlson,” Palermo said.
Despite everything, Palermo said he would go on the show again. “What I’m thinking is that we are entering a right-wing dominance in Washington and people like me – even if we take some abuse – we need to jump into that bubble any way we can.”