IS THAT A RHETORICAL QUESTION?…. The right’s overheated reaction to the so-called “Climategate” story had exactly the desired effect — major media outlets told the public that emails from Climatic Research Unit scientists put their data in doubt. As the climate crisis intensified, and Democratic policymakers hoped to generate support for a more progressive energy policy, the reports undermined public confidence in the evidence.

That was then. In the ensuing months, five independent investigations have scrutinized what transpired, and each concluded that the integrity of the science is entirely sound. The global warming deniers’ arguments were debunked. The most recent report, released last week, concluded, “On the specific allegations made against the behavior of CRU scientists, we find that their rigor and honesty as scientists are not in doubt.”

Will news outlets report these developments with equal enthusiasm? On CNN yesterday, Howard Kurtz took note of the trend: “The New York Times, to its credit, put this British report on the front page. Most of the major papers I looked at stuck it inside. CNN’s ‘Situation Room’ did a full story on it, but there was not many mentions on cable news, nothing on the broadcast networks.”

This is, unfortunately, quite common. The right erupts with anger, the media treats the “controversy” as a legitimate story, and the public hears all about it. We eventually learn that the story was nonsense, but at that point, the media has lost all interest.

But here’s the kicker from Kurtz, noting who ignored the report exonerating the climate scientists: “Glenn Beck didn’t report on this at all. Last fall, when the e-mails were leaked, he called global warming a big hoax and he said, ‘Why has no network covered this global warming fix?’ Why has Glenn Beck and others not revisited it?”

Is that a rhetorical question?

Beck doesn’t revisit stories to let his viewers know the truth — his job is to enrage his followers, not inform them. The “Climategate” allegations told Beck what he wanted to hear, so they made his broadcast. The five independent investigations told Beck he was wrong, so the truth was ignored.

Those waiting for Beck to show intellectual honesty or professional standards will be waiting a very long time.

Steve Benen

Follow Steve on Twitter @stevebenen. Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.