The problem with the current "debate", which I have seen others mention elsewhere (I can't remember where or I would link), is the asymmetry.
Scientific research labs and institutions are held accountable for what they publish and the media will actually criticize them for any mistakes. They simply couldn't get away producing and publishing anything near as low quality as the SPPI analysis of the CRU emails. Even the investigative team that is reviewing the CRU emails is under scrutiny.
In contrast, none of the usual denialist outlets have any accountability. They can't be discredited even if they deserve it. Noone writes headlines when Watt's screws up. Same with the Heartland Institute and SPPI. Noone writes headlines when an analysis like the one the SPPI published gets spread like wildfire. The deniosphere have a lack of oversight. Anyone can say what they want of course - even really ridiculous things - but they should be justly held to account and widely discredited if they do say ridiculous things or behave badly (it's overdue).
It's ironic of course that a lot of denialist's appeal to immense levels of accountability from the likes of the IPCC and the CRU, without demanding any of themselves.
Therein lies a bit of a skeptic delusion about the difference, I am sure you've heard a variant. It's that scientific organizations, etc should be held accountable because they are funded by tax payers.
This is wrong of course. Scientific organizations should be held accountable even if they are privately funded and that goes for non-scientific organizations too. If you mislead people, intentionally or not, you should be held accountable. Which in many cases can just mean some bad press. Being discredited is the risk you run and so hopefully stops people running it. That's the checking role the media and journalists play and any publishing medium that can possibly influence decisions that affect many people, should be held accountable. Yes even blogs. Even think-tanks. When they get to a certain level of influence it's the job of the media to hold them accountable.
But lets go back to the talking point, and for the moment drop the fundamental error in it's premise about taxpayer funding determining accountablity, because there is a further error in the argument even when we accept it's premise. If you are misleading people over aspects of science and that science has been taxpayer funded, then by extension you are wasting people's tax money. Therego by the same argument you should be held just as accountable for falsely discrediting the science and wasting taxpayers money.
A little sarcasm there - but there is also a point. We can't have a world where a denialosphere and psuedo-journalists can run rampant tearing down the public perception of good science to the extent that they try - and get away with it just because they "aren't funded by tax payers".
Critically the deniers don't get much bad press, even despite all the gaffes and libelous smears they make. In part it is because they aren't as visible and influencial as we might imagine. They don't afterall get much good press either if you think about it.
Of course recently they've been getting more mentions in the mainstream papers. And here a pendulum could have already been swung. The deniers should hope it hasn't been swung too far in their favor, because the back-swing has a journalist investigating a newly discovered "wattsupwiththat" blog and it's ties to certain think-tanks. There is a story there, but it's only newsworthy if the "skeptics" and their message gets so loud that the public would be interested to read it.
This happened recently in the case of the misquote of John Houghton, former IPCC head. The deniers had been relaying this quote for so long, and Monckton recently so loudly, that the a leading UK newspaper took it to print. In part it was thanks to John Houghton taking it to task, but if not for the loudness of skeptics recently I don't think it would have been newsworthy.
Now accountability might not occur. The deniers might not ever get relevant enough to get sufficient media attention for it to happen. Especially given that time is running out for them - as much as they will deny it they have gambled on warming not continuing and so when it does they will find their foundations crumbling.