To hear the mainstream media tell it, we have a Titanic problem with global warming. Not large, but Titanic in that they believe “unsinkable” mankind is facing a looming cataclysm.
How do they know? Because some scientists tell them that’s the way it is. But when other scientists tell them that might not be the case, they only half listen and soon forget.
Such is the fate of the unprecedented 2008 International Conference on Climate Change put on by the Heartland Institute. That event drew 500 scientists, economists and public policy experts to New York to discuss the flaws in the Al Gorean “consensus” on global warming.
It should have been big news, but the media never gave it a fair chance. Reporters mischaracterized the three-day event as “quirky” or a “roast” of Al Gore and called attendees “flat Earthers,” as if we would sail right off the edge of the world.
The event had such promise. Along with about 100 scientists from around the globe, actual members of the mainstream media attended representing The New York Times, Wall Street Journal and major networks like ABC and CNN.
And that’s where things went off course. ABC had two of its top people there – John Stossel and Bill Blakemore. But no stories. That was typical. None of the broadcast network coverage the week of the event even acknowledged the conference existed.
CNN viewers would have been better off if the network had followed the same course. One-time anchor Miles O’Brien, famous for dozing during a global warming hearing on Capitol Hill, went full speed to the attack.
This time O’Brien was wide awake and compared the conference to “scientific trash talks.” He mocked Heartland Institute President Joe Bast, saying, “I can’t help but think you’re living on a different planet than I am.” O’Brien ended his piece by noting “even the Flat Earth Society didn’t fold its tent in 1493.”
Print coverage was nearly as bad. While some discussed the conference intelligently – like Investor’s Business Daily or columnist John Tierney from the Times – others used it as one more chance to sink opposition to the hype surrounding manmade global warming.
Times reporter Andrew Revkin seemed perplexed that he was “forced to cover the edges of the discourse” rather than “relax” with his family. But Revkin soon made up for it. Just seven paragraphs into one of the pieces he wrote on the conference, he turned to an expert to help him understand those wacky conservatives, rather than focus on the science being discussed.
He cited “Riley E. Dunlap, a sociologist at Oklahoma State University who has studied the influence of conservative policy institutes,” and Dunlap gave the predictable sound bites. He said such groups “can hardly be considered to be underdogs" because they are, in Revkin’s words, so “well financed.”
For one last salvo, Revkin cited a Greenpeace activist who also attacked the event.
The Washington Post’s Juliet Eilperin quoted Gene Karpinski of the League of Conservation Voters, who said he’s “sure that the flat Earth society had a few final meetings before they broke up.” That quote ran the morning of the CNN broadcast. It’s unclear if O’Brien lifted his material from the left. Let’s just say he’s on board with their agenda.
Eilperin also showed she learned nothing from the conference. Less than a week later, she wrote a front-page story saying humans need to “cease carbon emissions altogether within a matter of decades.” She included no other viewpoints on that radical statement. I guess that means we all have to stop exhaling soon.
According to Eilperin, the study she cited was based, like many climate predictions, on “increasingly powerful” computer models and “scientists acknowledge that no model is a perfect reflection of the complex dynamics involved and how they will evolve with time.”
In other words, climate models aren’t necessarily accurate. Had she paid more attention to the conference, she would have heard from famous climatologist and hurricane forecaster Bill Gray criticizing the reliance on climate models instead of climate science. She might even have quoted him.
Just two days after the conference, “CBS Evening News” was warning that threatened bat populations were “the canary in a climate change coal mine.”
Those stories, and hundreds more like them, helped prove one of the very points the conference intended to make – that the mainstream media have given up the role of observer and become advocates for one side in the climate debate.
Dan Gainor is The Boone Pickens Fellow and vice president of the Media Research Center’s Business & Media Institute. He can be seen Thursday afternoon each week on Fox Business Network.