CyberAlert -- 01/12/1998 -- Warm Air or Network Hot Air?

Warm Air or Network Hot Air? ; MRC Web a Prop for Nightline

1) The networks declared as fact that human-caused greenhouse
gasses made 1997 the warmest year ever, but more accurate
satellite data show otherwise.

2) CBS and NBC gave the court appearance by Henry Cisneros a few
seconds, but that's more than ABC provided.

3) ABC's Nightline used MRC Web pages to illustrate the "down
side to this vast place called cyberspace."

>>> CNN's new schedule begins today. Of interest to political
junkies: Inside Politics moves an hour later to 5pm ET. Capital
Gang/Sunday and Crossfire Sunday aired for the last time on
January 11 and Inside Politics/Weekend has also been dropped.
This weekend Reliable Sources jumps back to 6:30pm ET on Saturday
(from 10:30am ET Sunday) and while Saturday's Capital Gang will
still air live at 7pm ET, the repeat will run three hours earlier
than it does now: at 10:30pm ET Saturday night instead of 1:30am
ET Sunday morning.
And tonight, ABC's World News Tonight, which has sunk to
third place recently, inaugurates a new set. On Friday, Peter
Jennings said goodbye to the "Person of the Week" feature. <<<


cyberno1.gif (1096 bytes) The three broadcast networks and CNN Thursday night
pushed the NOAA claim that 1997 was the warmest year on record,
ignoring solid evidence to the contrary. Satellite measurements
placed the 1997 average temperature amongst the coolest since
temperature tracking from satellites began in 1979. But that's
not what viewers learned as the networks highlighted how human-
caused carbon emissions are fueling the supposed temperature

-- On the January 8 World News Tonight ABC's Peter Jennings
declared as beyond dispute:

"Well, from there we go to one long-term note about weather
trends. 1997 was actually the warmest year since scientists began
keeping records. The average temperature was 62.45, that's about
one-tenth of a degree warmer than the next hottest year, which
was 1990. Nine of the warmest years this century have occurred in
the last 11 years. And only a little of the warming last year was
apparently due to El Nino according to scientists, they also say
that if we humans keep releasing pollution, including greenhouse
gases which they say lead to global warming, we can expect
heavier rainstorms, more heat waves, and again, warmer winters,
at least in some places."

-- CBS Evening News offered the same assertion of fact as Dan
Rather introduced a story on weather in the Northeast:
"As if El Nino isn't enough, the U.S. government oceanic and
atmospheric experts confirmed today 1997 was the warmest year
ever recorded on Earth. And yes, they say, there is a trend
indicating global warming. Try telling that tonight to weather-
beaten areas of the Northeast on ice and without power...."
In that weather story, as transcribed by MRC news analyst
Steve Kaminski, reporter Eric Engberg asserted:
"...One could conclude the weather has been weird lately and
one would be correct. Government weather experts today declared
1997 the warmest the world has experienced in 100 years with
temperatures averaging three-fourths of a degree above normal;
Part of the cause: pollution."
Tom Karl, National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration: "We
believe that this tendency for increased global temperatures is
related to human activities."
Engberg: "El Nino also played a roll but can't be held
responsible for the fact that nine of the warmest years on record
have occurred in the last eleven years. Eric Engberg, CBS News,

-- NBC Nightly News offered an entire story on the claim based
upon NOAA's ground instruments. But instead of using the time to
explain the contradictory data collected by satellites, NBC's
Robert Hager didn't bother with balance or accuracy. Instead he
went out of his way to boost the credibility of very politically
useful conclusions of the NOAA scientists by insisting they
have "no agenda."

The full transcript is the only way to really get a sense of
Hager's imbalance. So here it is, as transcribed by MRC news
analyst Geoffrey Dickens. Note Hager's very ominous conclusion:

Tom Brokaw: "And 1997. All the calculations are now complete.
It's official. Last year was the hottest ever recorded. Here is
NBC's Robert Hager:"

Robert Hager: "It was a wild year. Drought plaguing Africa,
brush fires raging in Australia, pacific water heating
California. 1997 seemed hot. Now the hard evidence. Temperatures
compiled from buoys, satellites and weather stations confirms
that. Today the government's best climatologists, experts with no
agenda to influence debate on public warming, had dramatic news.
Worldwide, 1997 was the hottest year of this century. A trend
says the government's chief keeper of weather records, Tom Karl."
Tom Karl: "Nine of the warmest years on record have all
occurred in the last 11 years."
Hager: "The researchers said this may be caused partly by
natural weather cycles. But is so pronounced it must also be
man made from emission of greenhouse gases."
Karl: "We believe that this tendency for increased global
temperatures is related to human activities."
Hager: "Areas most above normal last year included much of
Asia, Western Europe, and the Western U.S., all the way up to
Alaska. Government meteorologist Joe Friday:"
Joe Friday: "We're seeing across the entire arctic, around
the entire Arctic circle now a literally melting of the
permafrost. We're seeing internal temperatures rise in the
Hager: "Friday said this may soon interfere with construction
in Alaska, weaken foundations. But there are exceptions to the
heat. The eastern U.S. was actually cooler than normal last year.
Most likely due to industrial haze. But in spite of this week's
storms the scientists said the long range forecast for the world
calls for ever higher temperatures and no relief in sight. Robert
Hager, NBC News, Washington."

Reality Check:

"1997 Registers on the Cool Side, According to Satellite
Global Temperature Data: Surface Readings, Affected by Early
Onset of El Nino, Show Contrasting Warm Weather Record."

So announced the headline over a January 8 press release,
passed on to me by Tim Lamer of the MRC's Free Market Project,
from the Science & Environmental Policy Project (SEPP). Here are
some excerpts from the release written by SEPP's Candace

"Temperature readings taken from U.S. Weather satellites, the
most reliable and only global temperature data available, put
1997 among the coolest years since satellite-based measurements
began in 1979. With December readings finally in, the year ranked
7 out of 19, with 1 being the coldest, according to a news
release from The Science & Environmental Policy Project, a
research group based in Fairfax, Virginia.

Satellite readings continued to show the slight downward trend
seen over the past two decades, in contrast to ground-based
data, which are strongly affected by the so-called "urban
heat-island" effect, and show a warming. But for 1997, not only
the urban heat island effect but also the early onset of the El
Ni'o, a warm-water current in the eastern Pacific profoundly
affecting global climate patterns, helped push surface readings
to a new record, .05 degree C above the previous record set in

Confounding the picture, although the British Meteorological
Office confirmed in late 1997 that warmer temperatures were due
to the El Ni'o, there has also been record cold in many

To read the full release, go to:

Thursday's temperature news led to contradictory headline in
the two Washington, DC papers. Can you guess which ran which

-- "Scientists See Weather Trend as Powerful Proof of Global
Warming: Last Year's Average Worldwide Temperatures Climbed to
the Highest Levels on Record."

-- "Experts Disagree on Why World is Warming."

If you guessed the top one came from the Washington Post and
the bottom appeared in the Washington Times, you are a certified
bias catcher.


cyberno2.gif (1451 bytes) Not even video of a former Clinton cabinet secretary
entering and leaving a courthouse stirred much network interest.
Last Thursday former HUD Secretary Henry Cisneros and his former
girlfriend plead not guilty to the charge of lying about and
covering up his payments to her. The January 8 ABC World News

Tonight ignored the development while CBS gave it 15 seconds and
NBC 21 seconds. Back on December 11 his indictment generated 18
seconds on ABC's World News Tonight and nine seconds the next
night on the CBS Evening News. Only NBC Nightly News bothered
with a full story. (See the December 15 CyberAlert.)

Here's the 15 seconds delivered by Dan Rather on the January
8 CBS Evening News:

"Former Clinton administration Housing Secretary Henry
Cisneros pleaded not guilty today to an 18 count criminal
indictment. Cisneros is accused of concealing, during his
confirmation process, payments made to a woman friend, allegedly
to buy her silence."

NBC's Tom Brokaw gave it seven more seconds:

"In Washington tonight a former member of the Clinton cabinet
pleads not guilty to trying to mislead FBI agents investigating
his background. Henry Cisneros is alleged to have paid his
mistress to keep quiet about their affair. The payments are
alleged to have been made both before and after he became Housing
Secretary and that he lied about them. The trial date has been
set for November 4th."


cyberno3.gif (1438 bytes) Neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists and the Media Research
Center are all part of the "down side to this vast place called
cyberspace," Nightline illustrated visually last Thursday night.
Guest reporter Howard Kurtz, the Washington Post's media
reporter, lamented the evils of the Internet as he stood in front
of a video panel showcasing three pages from the MRC Web site.

Before getting to that part of the show, to give you a flavor
of the spin to the program that used Matt Drudge as the hook to
look at how the Internet can't be controlled by traditional
journalists, here's Ted Koppel's introduction:
"A quick question, what does it take, what do you need, what is
required, what qualifications are necessary to become a journalist in
this country? If you said little or nothing, you were being too
generous. The correct answer is nothing. Neither education nor
license. Anyone in America who wants to be a journalist can be. That
is both the blessing and the bane of the First Amendment. Not all
of you, of course, have access to a television network, as I do, or
to a major newspaper like the Washington Post as our guest
correspondent Howard Kurtz does.
"Until a few years ago, that meant that while all of us have the
right to be journalists, only a few thousand Americans had any sort
of major outlet. You could write or say anything you wanted, but who
was going to read or hear it. Enter the Internet. Now, almost anyone
can be a reporter and reach millions in a flash."

Translation: That darn First Amendment means us reporters have to
put up not only with talk radio but now another insidious medium we
can't control.

Now to the MRC portion caught by analyst Gene Eliasen. After the
first ad break, Kurtz continued:

"In one sense, Matt Drudge represents the triumph of the little
guy, the fist-shaking critic shouting at the world through the World
Wide Web. There are thousands of Drudges out there, political
opinion mongers, college professors, neo-Nazis, conspiracy theorists
dissecting the death of Vince Foster or more recently, the death of
Ron Brown."

At this point, a video board appears behind him showing three MRC
Web pages: the Team Clinton booklet cover, the "Media Reality Check"
page and the MediaWatch logo on its page. As viewers see the MRC
pages, Kurtz asserts:

"They're all folks with a digital megaphone and they've broken
the stranglehold of the big media corporations. But, and you knew
there was a but coming, there is a down side to this vast place
called cyberspace, where the normal rules often don't seem to apply.
There are lots of words floating around out there and words can
wound. Just ask this man, Sidney Blumenthal...."

Glad we were able to provide ABC with some suitably divisive, mean-
spirited looking, anti-Clinton Web pages. I'm just disapponted the
CyberAlert page didn't make it.

-- Brent Baker

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