Thursday, April 19, 2007 | Contact: Colleen O'Boyle (703) 683-5004
Study: ABC, CBS and NBC Push Global Warming
Alarmism, Purge Skeptics and Hide Economic Costs
Morning TV's One-Sided Climate Crusade
Al Gore has
complained that the media are biased against the inconvenient truth
of global warming. "I believe that is one of the principal reasons
why political leaders around the world have not yet taken action,"
Gore told a "Media Ethics Summit" at Middle Tennessee State
University back in February. Gore lectured journalists that any
coverage of views opposed to his own was irresponsible, calling it
"balance as bias."
impossible to imagine the big TV networks actually accepting an
edict from a conservative politician to report only their side of a
major public policy issue, but a new Media Research Center study of
ABC, CBS and NBC's global warming coverage finds the networks are
giving Gore practically everything he demanded. Not only does nearly
every global warming story exclude any contrary voices, but the
coverage of Al Gore personally has been exceptionally positive as
examined all 115 news stories that dealt with global warming from
January 1 through April 15 on NBC's Today, ABC's Good
Morning America and CBS's The Early Show. These morning
news programs had a combined audience of more than 13 million during
the first three months of 2007. Unlike the networks' evening
newscasts, the two- and three-hour morning shows have longer
segments that should (in theory) make it easier to include multiple
points of view on controversial topics. But MRC's analysts found
just four stories out of 115 (just over 3%) contained any mention of
dissent from Gore's approach to global warming - and even those
stories were heavily stacked in favor of his "climate crisis"
IGNORE COSTS, FOCUS ON DOOMSDAY
Climate change is not a settled issue. The regulatory
remedies prescribed to tax or cap carbon dioxide emissions - the
main human-generated "greenhouse gas" blamed for global warming -
would have a severely damaging economic effect. A 1998 government
study found the costs of abiding by the Kyoto Protocol would cost
the U.S. economy
perhaps $400 billion per year, far more than is
annually spent on the Iraq war. Much disagreement remains over
whether the science is certain enough to justify such drastic
action, and whether the environmental benefits would actually
outweigh the enormous economic costs.
Despite the huge
stakes, MRC analysts found TV ignored the economic debate while
pretending the scientific debate is over. Just 12 stories (10%) even
mentioned new regulatory proposals, and none of these dealt with the
potential costs or consequences. Most references were extremely
brief and presented new policies as logical common sense, such as on
March 22 when ABC's Chris Cuomo summarized Gore's testimony from the
day before: "Mr. Gore says if we start now, by the year 2050
greenhouse gases could be significantly reduced," never explaining
what Gore had proposed.
sidestepping the debate over new regulations, journalists helped
hype a variety of dire global warming scenarios. Just under half the
stories (56) presented alarming predictions of life in a warmer
world, with practically all of these stories (97%) excluding any
mention that many scientists disagree with the doomsday scenarios.
On the January
31 Good Morning America ABC's Sam Champion trumpeted a UN
report predicting water and food shortages, as an on-screen graphic
blared: "Will Billions Die from Global Warming?" The next day, CBS's
Harry Smith was in Miami in advance of the Super Bowl. He asked a
local columnist, "Do people here know that very likely in the next
several decades all of this is going to be under water?"
After a warm day
in January, NBC's Meredith Vieira recounted how she was "running in
the park on Saturday, in shorts, thinking this is great, but are we
all gonna die?" On January 31, her co-host Matt Lauer referred to
climate change as "a controversy over...what literally could be the
end of the world as we know it."
morning shows cited myriad left-wing activists to make the case that
global warming is a real and imminent threat. ABC on April 6 quoted
Brenda Ekwurzel of the Union of Concerned Scientists: "The evidence
is quite strong, and the time for action is now." NBC's Today
treated liberal activist (and An Inconvenient Truth producer)
Laurie David to an interview on February 3. "It's now the time where
we have to put the debate clearly behind us and we have to have
action," David claimed.
Out of 90
soundbites and comments in interviews, nearly all (96%) came from
liberal activists or those arguing the "climate crisis" position.
Three of the skeptical soundbites came in stories on ABC and CBS
recounting Gore's congressional testimony, showing Republicans Joe
Barton and James Inhofe doubting Gore's science. On ABC, reporter
Chris Cuomo quickly told viewers that the GOP doubts were unfounded:
"Most mainstream scientists agree global warming is happening, and
humans are the cause."
Only one story,
reported by Anne Thompson on NBC's Today on April 7, actually
quoted an expert dissenting from Gore's line on global warming.
After detailing the array of disasters global warming will
supposedly cause, Thompson offered a brief glimpse of the other
side, citing one of the top U.S. meteorologists: "Hurricane
William Gray disputes any link between man-made global
warming and more hurricane activity." Gray then was shown saying:
"We think that's been exaggerated tremendously." Those 11 seconds
marked the only instance when a non-alarmist climate expert was
cited by any network morning show.
CHEERING AL GORE, PLANET-SAVER
Gore himself, the network journalists were cheering the ex-Vice
President even as they discussed how his media-driven celebrity
might be the basis for a future presidential campaign. On February
9, CBS's Harry Smith heralded Gore's partnership with Virgin
Airlines founder Richard Branson, suggesting the two were "teaming
up to save the planet." Smith cast Gore's contributions in a
biblical light, asking Branson: "Is Al Gore a prophet?" A couple of
weeks later, CBS's Gloria Borger praised Gore as "an environmental
evangelist....now considered ahead of his time."
that night's Academy Awards, ABC's Kate Snow narrated a gooey
profile of Gore, "a former Vice-President on a mission" whose "road
show on global warming sold out as fast as a boy band would." Snow
made time for the ubiquitous Laurie David to extol Gore's virtues:
"He's our modern day Paul Revere."
of all global warming stories focused on Gore himself, and nearly
all of those (91%) contained no suggestion of disagreement with
Gore's position. Even stories that contained a hint of debate were
still lopsided in Gore's favor. After touting how "supporters say
this is a new Al Gore, more confident than ever....a man with a
mission," NBC's Andrea Mitchell quickly admitted: "Some scientists
complained recently that Gore's documentary exaggerated some of its
claims. Still, no one questions that Al Gore is helping shape the
debate over global warming."
in 1989, NBC's Mitchell
the networks' global warming
coverage had crossed the line "where you'd have to call it
advocacy." Nearly 18 years later, the networks have grown even more
censorious. Writing in
Newsweek's April 16 International
edition, MIT climate expert Dr. Richard Lindzen outlined the side of
the story the broadcast networks have suppressed: "Recently many
people have said that the Earth is facing a crisis requiring urgent
action. This statement has nothing to do with science. There is no
compelling evidence that the warming trend we've seen will amount to
anything close to catastrophe." Fair and balanced journalism would
include Lindzen's expert perspective, whether Gore likes it or not.
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