New Free Market Project Study Shows Major Media Distort Climate Change Coverage, Downplay Huge Costs of Kyoto Treaty - Press Release - November 10, 2004 - Media Research Center
ALEXANDRIA, Va. -- The major media are running prominent stories this week about global warming, and this follows on Russias recent decision to join other countries in support of the Kyoto Protocol on climate change. Yet a new study released today by the Media Research Centers Free Market Project reveals the networks overwhelmingly one-sided picture of the global warming debate: that global warming is a fact ignoring scientists who dispute this and downplaying an international report this week that refutes many global warming predictions and that the U.S. must follow other countries and sign Kyoto, despite an annual price tag of hundreds of billions of dollars.
The Free Market Project analyzed all 165 climate change stories on the three broadcast network evening newscasts and two cable news evening newscasts from Jan. 20, 2001 the day President Bush was inaugurated through Sept. 30, 2004.
The media have all-but ignored the negative economic consequences that ratifying Kyoto would have on the U.S. The network coverage also largely ignored scientific evidence questioning global warming theory, while touting dramatic claims of liberal environmental activists, said Herman Cain, National Chairman of the Free Market Project.
A Summary Of The Reports Findings
NBC, CBS, and CNN Ignore Specific Cost of Kyoto: The cost to U.S. taxpayers of adopting the Kyoto treaty has been estimated as high as $440 billion annually. ABC and the Fox News Channel were the only networks that told viewers about the potentially crippling price tag. NBC, CBS and CNN failed to pass on this essential information. Broadcast news shows mentioned polar bears three times as often as they discussed any cost attributed to signing Kyoto.
Global Warming More Dangerous than Kyoto Treaty: Three times as many network stories (46 percent) featured dramatic reports about global warmings potential impact than mentioned the cost of signing the treaty (12 percent).
Bipartisan Opposition to Treaty Unreported: Only one of 165 news stories mentioned that the U.S. Senate had voted unanimously 95-0 against Kyoto. Forty-nine stories on all five news programs cited President Bushs blocking or pulling out of Kyoto without mentioning the unanimous vote. That unanimous resolution included Democratic presidential candidate Sen. John Kerry, though that is never discussed either. The Fox Report was the only show that included this key information about the Senate opposition.
No Science Debate Allowed: Broadcast news programs presented the claims of liberal environmentalists that global warming is a given, that mankind is to blame for it, or both, 55 percent of the time (77 stories). Thats six times more often than they showed valid scientific objection to global warming theories.
Fox Report the Best News Show, NBC Nightly News the Worst: The best cable show for covering climate change was the Fox Report. It reported the cost of Kyoto and was the only show to mention the Senate vote opposing the treaty. It also made effective use of experts on both sides. Sixty-four percent of the NBC Nightly News climate change stories were pro-Kyotomore than any other program. (Only 6 percent of the shows questioned the science of Kyoto; the remainder took no position on Kyoto.)
ABCs Bob Jamieson the Best Reporter, NBCs Robert Hager the Worst: The best network reporter was ABC World News Tonights Bob Jamieson. Jamieson was the sole broadcast reporter who included the costs of signing the climate treaty. Reporter Robert Hagers January 8, 2004 story earned him the title as worst reporter. Hager, in a slanted report about warming, capped his story by deriding one of his interview subjects for being with a think tank funded in large part by big oil companies.
Herman Cain also noted that network reporters used almost every occasion of extreme weather warm or cold as evidence of global warming, including a Christmas Eve snow in Buffalo, N.Y. The study also offered several recommendations to the networks, which Cain outlined.
News organizations must provide a balance of experts and opinions on both sides of issues in their stories, said Cain, and the news shows need to explain the cost and impact of significant proposals like the Kyoto treaty.
To schedule an interview with Mr. Cain, or with Free Market Project Director Dan Gainor, please contact Tim Scheiderer
or Keith Appell (ext. 112) at 703.683.5004.