Not So Fast: Bush Fails to "Derail Climate Plan" in Germany

A front-page photo caption is no longer operative.

In an effort to indict Bush for stubborn refusal to go along with drastic cutbacks in emissions of greenhouse gases to stop global warming, did the Times jump the gun?

Thursday morning's front-page was topped with an unusual front-page photo teaser showing President Bush and German Chancellor Angela Merkeldisplaying awkward body languageat the Group of 8 meeting in Heiligendamm, Germany. The photo was captioned "U.S. Derails Climate Plan Backed by German Leader." The story itself was located on page 14.

The first paragraph of Sheryl Gay Stolberg's print story stated that "the White House effectively derailed a climate change initiative" backed by Merkel.

But apparently, the Times was too ready to bash Bush on climate change: An online follow-up story posted hours latercowritten byStolberg and reporter Mark Landler announced that the United States and Germany had come to an agreement on a climate deal.

"The United States agreed today to 'seriously consider' a European proposal to combat global warming by halving greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, breaking a trans-Atlantic deadlock at a meeting here of the world's richest industrial nations."

The Times' updated story still placed the emphasis on Bush intransigence on the issue of what the Times clearly considers the undeniable truth of harmful man-made global warming: "The climate change issue, though, is a delicate one for Mrs. Merkel and Mr. Bush, who have forged a strong bond since she took office in November 2005. With Prime Minister Tony Blair of Britain planning to leave office later this month, and the new French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, an unknown quantity to Mr. Bush, Mrs. Merkel may be the president's best friend in Europe, and he can ill afford to cause strain to the relationship.

"Mrs. Merkel, a former physicist who has made global warming her signature issue, has staked her reputation on making real and significant progress on the problem during this year's meeting. Experts agree that she has more at stake than Mr. Bush; if she appears to be caving in to the president's demands, she risks a backlash at home. But neither does she want a public dispute with Mr. Bush."