It’s clear the media routinely ignore scientists who disagree with popular theories related to global warming. But could they possibly ignore a gathering of hundreds of scientists, economists and other experts who disagree with the idea that there is “consensus” on the issue?
Yes and no.
The broadcast media, by and large, ignored the International Conference on Climate Change, which took place in New York City March 2-4. The news divisions at the networks – ABC, CBS and NBC – didn’t mention the conference once, according to a Nexis search of broadcast transcripts.
The conference, sponsored by the Heartland Institute, earned no attention from MSNBC. But it did receive two mentions on Fox News Channel – including an interview with Business & Media Institute Vice President Dan Gainor – and two stories on CNN, one of which was a report by conservative talk show host Glenn Beck.
The other CNN report, by Miles O’Brien, aired twice. In the first airing, host Anderson Cooper and O’Brien attacked the conference. Cooper said attendees were “getting together and telling anyone who’ll listen that climate change is the theory that never was.”
O’Brien said the conference amounted to “scientific trash talks.” When Heartland Institute President Joe Bast suggested the public is skeptical of global warming alarmism, O’Brien said, “I can’t help but think you’re living on a different planet than I am.”
O’Brien said the Heartland Institute “desperately wants us to believe” that there is a conspiracy behind global warming and concluded his report by sarcastically noting that “even the Flat Earth Society didn’t fold its tent in 1493.”
Print to the Rescue?
The print media paid more attention to the conference, with major publications like The New York Times, Washington Post, Wall Street Journal and Investor’s Business Daily running stories on the meeting.
Liberal blogs criticized complaints by global warming skeptics that journalists ignore their views on the topic, pointing to “broad coverage of global warming deniers conference” as evidence of “quite a media stir.”
But a handful of mentions doesn’t necessarily qualify as a “media stir,” especially when further examination of the reports reveals they tended to follow an all-too-familiar media formula of mischaracterizing and insulting skeptics.
As the Business & Media Institute previously reported, New York Times reporter Andrew Revkin slammed conference attendees and complained about being “forced to cover the edges of the discourse” in a March 4 post on his “Dot Earth” blog.
In the noticeably more subdued follow-up post, Revkin addressed an earlier implication he’d made that only 19 scientists attended the conference. “There were at least several dozen additional scientists in attendance, said one attendee” who complained via e-mail, Revkin wrote.
Juliet Eilperin’s March 4 story in The Washington Post downplayed the significance of the gathering and made sure to point out that the Heartland Institute has been “funded by energy and health-care corporations.” (Heartland said on its Web site and announced at the conference that “no contributions from any energy corporations are being used to support this conference.”)
The Weather Channel, whose founder slammed the cable network during the conference, ran an Associated Press story on its Web site that delivered three paragraphs of facts before diving into criticism of skeptics and the conference. Reporter John Heilprin called hurricane expert Bill Gray, who spoke at the conference, a “naysayer.”
A Reuters report characterized the largely academic conference as a “roast” of Al Gore, suggesting the former Vice President “was the main target on Monday at a conference of dissident scientists skeptical of his views on global warming.”
Reporter Steve James accused speakers of taking “pot-shots” at Gore. James pointed to “a strong majority of world scientific opinion that has concluded that greenhouse gases are contributing to global warming.” Many at the conference, however, accepted that man contributes to warming, but disagreed with catastrophic predictions or government-mandates intended to address the issue.
The New York Times’s John Tierney also mentioned the conference twice on his “TierneyLab” blog. The first entry encouraged readers to put aside the all-too-common name-calling and ad hominem attacks and instead to engage in mature and educated discussion of the conference’s major points.
Tierney’s follow-up post said skeptics “point to some genuine discrepancies between the climate models and what’s actually happened” and that “it’s impossible to know which discrepancies or which variables are really important.” Tierney’s readers refrained from engaging in the attacks so prevalent on other blogs, to his and their credit.
Investor’s Business Daily mentioned the conference in a March 3 editorial, noting that “their very presence [is] shattering [former Vice President Al] Gore’s myth of a warming ‘consensus’ and a debate that is over.” Yet Investor’s Business Daily didn’t conduct any further reporting on the conference.
The Wall Street Journal mentioned the conference three times. The first came in a February 25 editorial criticizing the media for icing global warming skeptics. The others came in blog posts from Keith Johnson. His first merely mentioned the conference would be occurring. The second called the conference “a familiar litany of arguments against climate change orthodoxy” and parroted ad hominem attacks from the liberal blogosphere.
Among the international media, České Noviny covered comments made by Vaclav Klaus, president of the Czech Republic, and delivered what seemed to be the most balanced coverage of the conference. Klaus has distinguished himself as a leader who opposes the high-tax, freedom-restricting policies adopted in the name of global warming.
The newest special report from the Business & Media Institute, “Global Warming Censored,” showed the network news broadcasts routinely shut out debate on climate issues, even from scientists’ perspective. It also showed that when coverage was given to skeptics, they were branded as “deniers,” “flat earthers” and “hired guns.”
Coverage of global warming might be a step in the right direction for media who tend to simply ignore the other side. But most reports on the conference amounted to little more than further media attempts to silence skepticism by insulting those who dare to disagree.