As ordered by Congress, the Defense Department has produced a new report on the nuclear winter phenomenon. Rep. Timothy E. Wirth (D-Colo.), who sponsored the legislation and released the report yesterday, criticized it as "last year's report plus . . . five pages of filler that does not begin to address the many issues concerning nuclear winter raised by Carl Sagan, Sen. Barry Goldwater and myself, among others."
One fair criticism Wirth didn't make is that the report is written in some abstruse English, using such phraseology as "There is a need, however, for continuing dialogue with the life sciences to identify appropriate descriptions of the climatic changes to support follow-on analyses of the implications of global climate effects on people . . . . "
Nevertheless, one point comes through clearly enough: "Recent calculations," says the report, "show a trend toward more severe climate changes over large continental land masses, particularly for areas well to the east of large ocean areas. This observation would suggest that if any global climate effects occur, they would likely be more severe for the Soviet Union than for the U.S. or Western Europe." Pressing a Point . . .
Former interior secretary James G. Watt once came ringingly to the defense of another public figure who he believes has suffered, as he has, from "the type of journalism that I think is wrong." That person: Geraldine A. Ferraro, former Democratic vice presidential candidate. Watt spoke at a little-noticed conference, in November 1984 in Tokyo, sponsored by News World Communications Inc. and the World Media Association, both founded by the Rev. Sun Myung Moon. The proceedings were recently published.
The most prominent American journalists participating in the "Seventh World Media Conference" on "Media Credibility and Social Responsibility" were Arnaud de Borchgrave, Richard Grenier and Roger Fontaine of The Washington Times, published by News World Communications.
"My plea to you," Watt told them, was to eschew journalism based "on innuendo and slur and personality as we see so frequently: for example, in the case of Geraldine Ferraro, who was abused badly by The Wall Street Journal . . . . We ought to go after the substance with fact and integrity, not with slur and innuendo, and not because she has an Italian name. I think that is demeaning."
The Journal, in reports about Ferraro and her family during the 1984 presidential campaign, suggested links to organized crime.
Watt also addressed the so-called New World Information and Communication Order, a proposal for press restrictions presented to the United Nations by a number of Third World nations and supported by the Soviet Union. According to the argument for the new Order, the Western countries exercise a "neocolonial" monopoly over news and information. "I think there is no question about it, that what is news is determined by those who make the news," said Watt. "It's frustrating, isn't it? . . . I can't wrap up all those Third World positions to give you the answer you are looking for, but it sure is frustrating."
The conference also heard a message from Moon, who asserts a claim to divinity. "To be a great journalist," he said, "you must be a great human being, living in accord with the moral law of God . . . . Ladies and gentlemen, I am writing this message to you from the United States Federal Prison in Danbury, Connecticut," where Moon was serving a sentence for income tax fraud. Great Expectations . . .
A new poll probed Americans' feelings about the prospect of watching U.S. Senate action on the tiny screen -- the cable television coverage that is scheduled to begin June 1.
Two-thirds of the respondents said it is "important" to have this opportunity to see democracy on the tube. But 68 percent said they would watch such programming only occasionally. And of the 32 percent who had the opportunity to watch existing coverage of the House of Representatives, only 57 percent said they watched it "occasionally," while 11 percent said they tuned in "very often."
The question drawing the strongest consensus was whether the presence of TV cameras was apt to "help make senators more prepared for Senate debates." Seventy-nine percent of those polled agreed. A New Leaf . . .
Noel C. Koch, the Defense Department's top counterterrorism official, has told Secretary Caspar W. Weinberger that he intends to resign at the end of this month. The news, not yet official, is being met with dismay in the relatively small circle of military experts and officers who advocate increased funds for "special forces" trained in "low-intensity warfare."
Koch, whose official title is principal deputy assistant secretary for international security affairs, has been the Pentagon's main advocate of beefing up U.S. military forces equipped for clandestine missions, counterterrorism and low-technology wars in the Third World. He has frequently expressed frustration at the military's preference for big-ticket, sophisticated items such as aircraft carriers and fighter jets.
Koch (pronounced Cook) will take his talents to the private sector. He and several others plan to form a security and counterterrorism consulting firm with offices here and in other countries.