The problem with that interpretation—as the polar research group explained (pdf) to all who asked—is that “In the context of climate change, global sea ice area may not be the most relevant indicator.” That is because the impacts of climate change can be highly localized and the relative stability of winter sea ice globally belies the fact it is declining much more rapidly in the Arctic than it is in Antarctica (though there is some evidence—such as the recent deterioration of the Wilkins ice shelf—that the South Pole is catching up).

This brings us back to Eilperin and Sheridan’s article. Their report about the increasingly precarious state of Arctic sea ice should buttress the argument that Will is spinning scientific facts to suit his own point of view. But at the same time, they should have been more careful with their details as well. Will consistently referred to global sea ice extent precisely because doing so masks the impacts of warming. So when Eilperin and Sheridan charge him with making arguments about Arctic sea ice instead, it muddles one of the key things Will did wrong.

Perhaps I’m overreacting. As Grist’s David Roberts pointed out, though, it’s “pretty extraordinary” for a news article to criticize by name a columnist at the same publication. And, “In response to the Will controversy, numerous people have made the point that people who work for the Post … have a responsibility to speak out about their employer’s willingness to mislead readers.”

That is only going to work if those people have all their facts in order. If they flub any detail, their “extraordinary” effort will have the opposite effect and empower Will to spin the science even harder in his next column.

Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.