Space reporter banned from space news website

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Petty fascism: Doug Messier, who runs the excellent space news website Parabolic Arc, which I link to periodically, has been banned from posting comments on another generally excellent space news website,

To quote his website:

I just got banned from the NasaSpaceflight forums with this little message from little Andy.

“Sorry parabolicarc, you are banned from using this forum! Please use your own site to post what your “sources” are telling you. Too many people are sick of you using this site to spread rumors. Andy.

This ban is not set to expire.”

Doug is also the reporter with whom I and many other commenters at Behind the Black had a long, passioned but intelligent debate about global warming. As much as I might disagree with him on that subject, I find it baffling that any space website would ban him from commenting, especially since his reporting on space has been impeccably accurate and hard-hitting.

In a sense, this ban is just another example of how too many Americans can no longer deal with debate and opposing points of view. Very sad. Doug of course is always welcome to comment here, even when he strongly disagrees with what I’ve written.


  • Wayne

    Doug Messier— personally, we disagree on global-warming.

    That being said, I totally support your right to voice your opinions, no matter what.

    -Just from what little I’ve read from you– always presented in a respectful manner, and I for one, appreciate it, even if we disagree.

    (Don’t let the trolls get you down.)

  • fredk

    Maybe Andy can go to his safe space and have a group hug.

    Good lord.

  • Nick P

    As a Government funded website, does this become a 1st Amendment issue?

  • Chris L

    To paraphrase Bogart in Casablanca, it’s not fascists I mind so much as cut rate fascists. If you are going to throw the guy out, have the stones to say it’s because you don’t like him and his opinions. Don’t try to make up some stupid excuse about him posting rumors (rumors on a blog?!, the horror!) to do it.

  • Gealon

    Nick; Possibly not since it’s not a .GOV site. If it was, it would be someone getting banned from an actual Government run forum for their opinions. Unfortunately being .COM, the argument can be made that the site is private. It’s still a childish move though.

  • None of the sites involved are funded by the government.

  • geoffc

    I have seen a small amount of the issues involved, reading the NSF forums. My understanding is the issue is not that he is expressing opinions, but that he has been presenting information, based on unnamed sources, that turn out to be false.

    Also, this is a private site, not government run (Regardless of the NASA in the name).

    I remain uncommitted on the topic of discussion.

  • wodun

    This is insane.

    People who trade in the 1st amendment should have a little higher appreciation for it than what is being shown.

  • Edward

    I looked up the terms of use — er — agreement (registration page: ), and the very first sentence is:
    “You agree, through your use of this forum, that you will not post any material which is false, defamatory, inaccurate, abusive, vulgar, hateful, …”

    Apparently, the owners and staff do not want anyone to be mistaken or wrong in their facts.

    On the other hand, if I talk to someone who says something incorrect, then post that So-And-So said that incorrect something, then that is not a false statement. Apparently, what the site does not like is that some of Doug’s unnamed sources were wrong.

    I have other problems with the terms of use: who chooses what is hateful, and I do not think vulgar means what they think it means ( ).

    Some people think that anything that they disagree with is hateful. Thus hateful is more than just subjective, it is too often misinterpreted. This gives great latitude to the staff to

    Vulgar does not mean curse-word, it means: poor taste; crude; unrefined; relating to ordinary people; and my favorite: common.

    Finally, the only punishment that the agreement specifies is not banishment but removal of objectionable content:

    “The staff and the owner of this forum reserve the right to remove objectionable content, within a reasonable time frame, if they determine that removal is necessary.”

    Would it not be better, though, if they were to point out inaccurate information? Should not forums exist in order to discuss viewpoints and information that some may disagree with? Should not others be allowed the option of pointing out when information turns out to be incorrect?

    Instead, the staff and owners seem more interested in assuming that Doug is intentionally being wrong or “spreading rumors.” Rumors aren’t on the list of banned concepts.

    But, it is their site, and they can whimsically follow their own unwritten rules without warning, if they choose. As Milton Friedman said: “Free to Choose.”

    Meanwhile, I think I will stick with sites that allow me to be wrong, on occasion; might correct me when I am; yet allow me to defend my less-than-correct statements, if I choose.

    If I wasn’t (a vulgar word) clear: I side with Doug on this one.

  • Dick Eagleson

    It was a chickens**t move by NASASpaceflight. Sadly, not a particularly unique one. I got banned for some reason over at Keith Cowing’s NASA Watch site a couple weeks ago with neither warning nor explanation. Keith, like Doug, is a major acolyte of the Global Warming religion and I’ve had a number of sparring matches on that issue with some of Keith’s fellow travelers and frequent commenters. I’ve also expressed other opinions that I’m sure were not congenial to Mr. Cowing in response to “progressive” sallies in print by a number of his frequent commenters. Keith, as is now normative in the wordsmithing trade, seems to lean pretty much Left.

    It’s no secret that NASASpaceflight is a hotbed of NewSpacery. Doug Messier, having the usual liberal statist politics that seem to be near-mandatory in the journalistic ranks these days, is pretty much reflexively distrustful of private space efforts, but he seems to reserve an extra measure of scorn for those run by billionaires. The fact that his home beat includes Virgin Galactic’s Mojave operation has given him much factual grist to reinforce his pre-existing inclinations. He is nearly as distrustful of SpaceX as he is of VG. He has apparently been hearing from his sources for quite awhile now that NASA’s report on the loss of CRS-7 would be very critical of SpaceX and would decline to endorse SpaceX’s finding that a failed strut was the cause of that mission failure. As said report has now been released, Doug’s sources have now been vindicated in terms of what the IG report says. Doug, as is his usual wont, seems to take NASA’s word as pretty much gospel. The NASASpaceflight guys, pretty obviously, don’t.

    Personally, I’m dubious about a report that fails to draw any particular conclusion about the cause of a mission failure and instead cites a whole laundry list of “possible” contributing factors. My suspicion is that people within NASA who hate SpaceX – and there are many – used the IG investigation to try sticking a shiv into Elon’s baby. There are still a lot of NASA staffers who think their agency should have a monopoly on space efforts and have never accommodated themselves to the idea that private enterprise has some role to play beyond saluting smartly and saying “Yes, sir. Yes sir. Three bags full.” when given an order by their betters. I don’t think it’s any accident that most of the “alternative” explanations of things that might have “contributed” to the CRS-7 failure are exactly the things in which SpaceX practice departs from the “way we’ve always done things” at NASA and the legacy contractors. Failure to genuflect before all the stations of the cross is heresy to a lot of NASA old-timers and heresy must, of course, be punished severely.

    I’m still reading the IG report and will work up a set of specific comments on it that I will post somewhere – perhaps here – when I’m done. In the meantime, I think what we have at work here is a clash of religions. The NASASpaceflight guys are rabid NewSpacers and Doug is a rabid NewSpace skeptic.

  • Thanks for the support, guys.

    I’d like to know what information I had presented over there that was actually false.

  • Chris

    I believe I participated in the debate on Global Warming with Mr Messier – spirited as good debates are!
    But to try to quote Jefferson: ” I disagree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your fight to say it!”


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