David Roberts is still pondering "ClimateGate":
Consider that there have now been five, count 'em five, inquiries into the matter. Penn State established an independent inquiry into the accusations against scientist Michael Mann and found "no credible evidence" [PDF] of improper research conduct. A British government investigation run by the House of Commons' Science and Technology Committee found that while the CRU scientists could have been more transparent and responsive to freedom-of-information requests, there was no evidence of scientific misconduct. The U.K.'s Royal Society (its equivalent of the National Academies) ran an investigation that found "no evidence of any deliberate scientific malpractice." The University of East Anglia appointed respected civil servant Sir Muir Russell to run an exhaustive, six-month independent inquiry; he concluded that "the honesty and rigour of CRU as scientists are not in doubt ... We have not found any evidence of behaviour that might undermine the conclusions of the IPCC assessments."
All those results are suggestive, but let's face it, they're mostly... British. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) wanted an American investigation of all the American scientists involved in these purported dirty deeds. So he asked the Department of Commerce's inspector general to get to the bottom of it. On Feb. 18, the results of that investigation were released. "In our review of the CRU emails," the IG's office said in its letter to Inhofe [PDF], "we did not find any evidence that NOAA inappropriately manipulated data ... or failed to adhere to appropriate peer review procedures." (Oddly, you'll find no mention of this central result in Inhofe's tortured public response.) Whatever legitimate issues there may be about the responsiveness or transparency of this particular group of scientists, there was nothing in this controversy -- nothing -- that cast even the slightest doubt on the basic findings of climate science. Yet it became a kind of stain on the public image of climate scientists. How did that happen?
Jay Rosen says that question "has confounded our political culture, our press, and me."