2. Poll Showing Sheehan's Lack of Impact Buried by ABC and WashPost
3. Reporters Blame Global Warming for Katrina, Not Even NYT Buys It
In the 5pm EDT half hour Tuesday of CNN's The Situation Room, Jack Cafferty used the hurricane as an excuse to trash President Bush for being on vacation, as if the location of Bush, who already authorized federal action, has any impact on that federal response to the devastation. Cafferty asked host Wolf Blitzer: "Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?" Blitzer answered that "he's cut short his vacation. He's coming back to Washington tomorrow." Cafferty snidely contended: "Well, that would be a good idea. He was out in San Diego, I think, at a Naval air station giving a speech on Japan and the war in Iraq today. Based on his approval rating in the latest polls, my guess is getting back to work might not be a terrible idea."
[This item was posted Tuesday night on the MRC's new blog, NewsBusters: www.newsbusters.org ]
Setting up his 5pm EDT hour "question" for his "Cafferty File" segment, Cafferty, in Manhattan, opined about the condition of New Orleans: "They've been living on borrowed time. You have to wonder, watching these pictures, and listening to these accounts, if we'll ever see the city of New Orleans as we all remember the Big Easy. Where's President Bush? Is he still on vacation?"
Cafferty proceeded to set up and announce his hourly question: "Before Hurricane Katrina made landfall, the mayor of New Orleans ordered a mandatory evacuation of the city, told 1.3 million people to get out of town. But a lot of people either ignored the order or were unable to evacuate. And now a lot of them are trapped in their flooded homes or worst. The fear is a lot of them are dead. The thousands who wound up spending the night in the Superdome had an uncomfortable stay. They lost the air conditioning. They lost part of the roof. But they're alive today. The question is this: When the government orders mandatory evacuations, what should be done about people who either can't or won't leave? Caffertyfile@cnn.com. We'll read some of your letters in a half-hour or so."
A new ABC News/Washington Post poll found that an overwhelming 89 percent maintained Cindy Sheehan's protests have had no effect on their view of the Iraq war, with the remaining respondents split evenly between saying her efforts made them more or less likely to support the war, but you'd be hard know it since, in part thanks to hurricane coverage, ABC's World News Tonight didn't report anything on the poll Monday or Tuesday night while Good Morning America squeezed in a short item Tuesday morning. Wednesday's Washington Post didn't get to the Sheehan finding until the next to last (24th) paragraph of a story headlined, "President's Poll Rating Falls to a New Low: In Post-ABC Survey, 53 Percent of Respondents Say They Disapprove of Bush."
In the 7:30am half hour of the August 30 Good Morning America, news reader Claire Shipman noted: "Mr. Bush is in San Diego today where his focus continues to be bolstering public support for the war in Iraq. A new ABC News/Washington Post poll shows the campaign by Cindy Sheehan has had little effect on public opinion about the war. 79 percent say they haven't been swayed by the Gold Star mom. And the public seems evenly divided on the question of whether Mr. Bush should meet again with Sheehan."
On screen as Shipman spoke, two graphics. First:
The Washington Post first reported some of the poll's findings in a 7am EDT posting Tuesday morning on the paper's Web site. Near the end of the August 31 print edition story, reporters Richard Morin and Dan Balz relayed:
For the Post article in full: www.washingtonpost.com
Some in the media have blamed the ferocity of Hurricane Katrina on global warming. NBC's Robert Bazell warned on Monday's NBC Nightly News, in a story carried repeatedly on MSNBC, that "many scientists say we can expect such storms more often as global warming increases sea temperatures around the world." In a Monday posting on Time.com. Jeffrey Kluger forwarded that "to hear a lot of people tell it, we have only ourselves -- and our global-warming ways -- to blame." Kluger conceded that "hurricanes were around a long, long time before human beings began chopping down rainforests and fouling the atmosphere," but he concluded that in the future global warming "could make even Katrina look mild." Former Washington Post and Boston Globe reporter Ross Gelbspan, in a Tuesday Boston Globe op-ed, charged: "The hurricane that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming." In contrast, the New York Times remarkably reported Tuesday: "Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming. But that is not the case, scientists say."
"Is Global Warming Fueling Katrina?" asked the headline over an August 29 "Web exclusive" posted on Time.com. The subhead summary: "Warm ocean temperatures are a key ingredient for monster hurricanes, prompting some scientists to believe that global warming is exacerbating our storm troubles."
The people of New Orleans are surely not thinking about wind vortices, the coriolis effect or the dampness of the troposphere as they hunker down during hurricane Katrina this morning. They're mostly thinking about the savage rains and 140 mph winds that have driven them from their homes. But it's that meteorological arcana that's made such a mess of the bayou, and to hear a lot of people tell it, we have only -- ourselves and our global-warming ways -- to blame.
One thing's for sure: hurricanes were around a long, long time before human beings began chopping down rainforests and fouling the atmosphere....
So is global warming making the problem worse? Superficially, the numbers say yes -- or -- at least they seem to if you live in the U.S. From 1995 to 1999, a record 33 hurricanes struck the Atlantic basin, and that doesn't include 1992's horrific Hurricane Andrew, which clawed its way across south Florida in 1992, causing $27 billion dollars worth of damage. More-frequent hurricanes are part of most global warming models, and as mean temperatures rise worldwide, it's hard not to make a connection between the two. But hurricane-scale storms occur all over the world, and in some places -- including the North Indian ocean and the region near Australia -- the number has actually fallen. Even in the U.S., the period from 1991 to 1994 was a time of record hurricane quietude, with the dramatic exception of Andrew.
Just why some areas of the world get hit harder than others at different times is impossible to say. Everything from random atmospheric fluctuations to the periodic warming of the Pacific Ocean known as El Nino can be responsible. But even if all these variables have combined to keep the number of hurricanes worldwide about the same, the storms do appear to be more intense. One especially sobering study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that hurricane wind speeds have increased about 50% in the past 50 years. And since warm oceans are such a critical ingredient in hurricane formation, anything that gets the water warming more could get the storms growing worse. Global warming, in theory at least, would be more than sufficient to do that. While the people of New Orleans may not see another hurricane for years, the next one they do see could make even Katrina look mild.
END of Excerpt
"Katrina's real name" read the headline over the fear-mongering August 30 Boston Globe op-ed by Ross Gelbspan which reads like a parody but is apparently quite serious. An excerpt:
THE HURRICANE that struck Louisiana yesterday was nicknamed Katrina by the National Weather Service. Its real name is global warming.
When the year began with a two-foot snowfall in Los Angeles, the cause was global warming.
When 124-mile-an-hour winds shut down nuclear plants in Scandinavia and cut power to hundreds of thousands of people in Ireland and the United Kingdom, the driver was global warming.
When a severe drought in the Midwest dropped water levels in the Missouri River to their lowest on record earlier this summer, the reason was global warming.
In July, when the worst drought on record triggered wildfires in Spain and Portugal and left water levels in France at their lowest in 30 years, the explanation was global warming....
As the atmosphere warms, it generates longer droughts, more-intense downpours, more-frequent heat waves, and more-severe storms.
Although Katrina began as a relatively small hurricane that glanced off south Florida, it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures in the Gulf of Mexico.
The consequences are as heartbreaking as they are terrifying.
Unfortunately, very few people in America know the real name of Hurricane Katrina because the coal and oil industries have spent millions of dollars to keep the public in doubt about the issue....
In 2000, big oil and big coal scored their biggest electoral victory yet when President George W. Bush was elected president -- and subsequently took suggestions from the industry for his climate and energy policies.
As the pace of climate change accelerates, many researchers fear we have already entered a period of irreversible runaway climate change.
Against this background, the ignorance of the American public about global warming stands out as an indictment of the U.S. media....
For years, the fossil fuel industry has lobbied the media to accord the same weight to a handful of global warming skeptics that it accords the findings of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change -- more than 2,000 scientists from 100 countries reporting to the United Nations.
Today, with the science having become even more robust -- and the impacts as visible as the megastorm that covered much of the Gulf of Mexico -- the press bears a share of the guilt for our self-induced destruction with the oil and coal industries....
END of Excerpt
For the August 30 op-ed in full: www.boston.com
The full name of one of those books, Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists and Activists Are Fueling the Climate Crisis -- And What We Can Do to Avert Disaster.
From the Publishers Weekly summary as posted by Amazon.com: "Gelbspan, a Pulitzer Prize'€"winning journalist, offers no less than a call to arms in this treatise on how global warming is a threat and how it can be avoided. Gelbspan expands the argument about global warming: not only is the current U.S. administration to blame, but journalists and activists are as well. Journalists, he says, are culpable because they are minimizing the story; activists, while well-meaning, are so busy trying to form alliances and make compromises that they lose sight of a problem that Gelbspan believes could ultimately compromise the planet. Gelbspan writes clearly, and he argues that Republican members of Congress have latched onto theories of the few scientists who don't believe that global warming is a major problem...."
The Amazon page: www.amazon.com
Gelbspan's own Web site: www.heatisonline.org
An excerpt from his profile of himself which touts how several media outlets have favorably assessed his claims:
Ross Gelbspan retired several years ago after a 31-year career in journalism as a reporter. As special projects editor of The Boston Globe, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles that won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
In 1995, he co-authored an article on climate change and the spread of infectious disease which appeared in the Outlook Section of The Washington Post. His article on climate change, which appeared on the cover of the December, 1995 issue of Harper's Magazine, was a finalist for a National Magazine Award.
In 1997, he published a book on the global climate crisis titled: The Heat Is On: The High Stakes Battle Over Earth's Threatened Climate (Perseus Books). The book has also been published in German, Italian and Portuguese. (An updated U.S. paperback edition was published in 1998 (Perseus Books), as: The Heat Is On: the Climate Crisis, the Cover-Up, the Prescription).
The book received very positive reviews in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star-Tribune, the science journal, Nature and elsewhere. It was excerpted in The Washington Post, the San Jose Mercury and other outlets.
It received national attention that summer when President Clinton told the press he was reading The Heat Is On.
Since the book's publication, Gelbspan has appeared in numerous radio and television interviews, including "Nightline," "All Things Considered" and "Talk of the Nation." He was invited to the World Economic Forum in Switzerland in February, 1998, where he addressed government ministers and leaders of multi-national corporations.
In 2004, Gelbspan published Boiling Point: How Politicians, Big Oil and Coal, Journalists, and Activists are Fueling the Climate Crisis -- and What We Can Do to Avert Disaster (Basic Book). The book received the lead review, written by Al Gore, in the Sunday New York Times Book Review that August....
Over the course of his career, Gelbspan worked at The Philadelphia Bulletin, The Washington Post, the Village Voice, Scripps Howard, where he was a national news editor, and The Boston Globe. He has also taught at the Columbia University School of Journalism.
In 1971, he spent a month in the Soviet Union interviewing Soviet dissidents and human rights advocates. His four-part series on the Soviet underground was reprinted in the Congressional Record. In 1974, he edited a book for Scripps-Howard on the Congressional Watergate Committee hearings.
In 1979, the Boston Globe hired Gelbspan as a senior editor. In his capacity as special projects editor, he conceived, directed and edited a series of articles on job discrimination against African-Americans in Boston-area corporations, universities, unions, newspapers and state and city government. The series won a Pulitzer Prize in 1984.
END of Excerpt
For his profile in full: www.heatisonline.org
The Globe did devote a small box to critics. Wrote Gelbspan: "These voices are increasingly in the minority. And as evidence has accumulated, the tide of the debate has swung increasingly toward those who believe that the Earth's ability to withstand untrammeled human activity has reached the breaking point." Gelbspan quoted greenhouse promoter Stephen Schneider: "It is journalistically irresponsible to present both sides as if it were a question of balance...It is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field." Gelbspan ignored a Gallup poll of 400 climate experts from the American Meteorological Society and the American Geophysical Union. While 60 percent agreed global temperatures rose in the last century, only 19 percent believed that warming was induced by human activity. Nobody reported that.
END of Excerpt from MediaWatch
Tuesday's New York Times, of all places, carried a story which undercut Bazell, Time magazine and Gelbspan. An excerpt from "Storms Vary With Cycles, Experts Say," by Kenneth Chang:
Because hurricanes form over warm ocean water, it is easy to assume that the recent rise in their number and ferocity is because of global warming.
But that is not the case, scientists say. Instead, the severity of hurricane seasons changes with cycles of temperatures of several decades in the Atlantic Ocean. The recent onslaught "is very much natural," said William M. Gray, a professor of atmospheric science at Colorado State University who issues forecasts for the hurricane season.
From 1970 to 1994, the Atlantic was relatively quiet, with no more than three major hurricanes in any year and none at all in three of those years. Cooler water in the North Atlantic strengthened wind shear, which tends to tear storms apart before they turn into hurricanes.
In 1995, hurricane patterns reverted to the active mode of the 1950's and 60's. From 1995 to 2003, 32 major hurricanes, with sustained winds of 111 miles per hour or greater, stormed across the Atlantic. It was chance, Dr. Gray said, that only three of them struck the United States at full strength.
Historically, the rate has been 1 in 3.
Then last year, three major hurricanes, half of the six that formed during the season, hit the United States. A fourth, Frances, weakened before striking Florida....
END of Excerpt
For the New York Times story online: www.nytimes.com
FNC's Special Report with Brit Hume on Tuesday also took on the 'global warming caused Katrina theory,' bringing aboard University of Virginia environmental sciences professor Patrick Michaels. The MRC's Brad Wilmouth corrected the closed-captioning against the video.
Brit Hume: "A writer in the Boston Globe today declared that the hurricane that has wreaked such damage along the Gulf coast may be called Katrina, but it's real name, he said, is global warming. Journalist and author Ross Gelbspan noted that Katrina began as a minor hurricane, but that was before, quote, 'it was supercharged with extraordinary intensity by the relatively blistering sea surface temperatures on the Gulf of Mexico,' which he says were, or suggests, were a consequence of global warming. Let's ask Patrick Michaels, senior fellow in environmental studies at the libertarian CATO Institute and a professor at the University of Virginia, about all of this. He joins me from Charlottesville, Virginia....What about this idea that we had a minor hurricane, drifted across Florida with little damage, and then got reheated by the very hot water in the Gulf of Mexico into this catastrophic hurricane?"
Amazon's page for Michaels' book, Meltdown: The Predictable Distortion of Global Warming by Scientists, Politicians, and the Media: www.amazon.com
-- Brent Baker