Like a simple parlor trick, the networks are able to make skeptical scientists vanish, at least from the eyes of their viewers.
In some cases, the broadcast networks have failed to include such scientists for years, while including alarmist scientists within the past six months. ABC, CBS and NBC’s lengthy omission of scientists critical of global warming alarmism propped up the myth of a scientific consensus, despite the fact that many scientists and thousands of peer-reviewed studies disagree.
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Neither CBS nor ABC have included a skeptical scientist in their news shows within the past 1,300 days, but both networks included alarmists within the past 160 days -- CBS as recently as 22 days ago. When the networks did include other viewpoints, the experts were dismissed as “out of the scientific mainstream” or backed by “oil and coal companies.”
The networks were able to promote the myth that there is a scientific consensus for man-made, catastrophic climate change by including climate alarmists much more often than skeptical scientists and by challenging the credentials of the skeptics that they did include.
CBS was the worst, ignoring skeptical scientists for 1,391 days, ever since the May 15, 2010, “Evening News.” That night, CBS interviewed former NASA climatologist, Dr. Roy Spencer during an extensive profile of alarmist meteorologist, and non-Ph.D., Dan Satterfield.
It was just 22 days ago, on Feb. 12, 2014, that CBS included an alarmist physicist, Dr. Michio Kaku on “This Morning.” Kaku is a contributor to “This Morning” and that day he warned of the “heating up of the North Pole” which “could cause gigantic storms of historic proportions.”
ABC last included a skeptical scientist 1,383 days ago. During the May 23, 2010, segment of “World News,” ABC played a brief, 23-second clip of Princeton-educated Dr. Fred Singer expressing his skepticism over man-made climate change, along with clips of two alarmist scientists. Singer’s was the only opposing view in that report and his views were actually taken from a much earlier interview aired on ABC March 23, 2008.
Dr. Michael Oppenheimer, a Princeton professor, appeared on ABC “World News” Sept. 27, 2013, arguing that climate change is “bearing down on us,” only 160 days ago.
NBC did a far better job than the other broadcast networks, but the last time they included a skeptical scientist was still a whopping 298 days ago. NBC’s May 13, 2013, “Today” included Dr. Jay Lehr of the Heartland Institute. Lehr criticized the supposed link between carbon dioxide and global temperatures.
An alarmist scientist appeared on NBC much more recently, however, only 115 days ago. On Nov. 11, 2013, “Today” Dr. Raghu Murtugudde predicted the increase of high-intensity hurricanes during a segment on how global warming would make hurricanes more powerful.
Disrespectful Treatment of Skeptics
When the networks did include scientists with opinions outside of the “consensus” the media embrace so much, the reports either disrespectful the experts or attempted to undermine their position.
ABC’s Dan Harris revealed during a May 23, 2010, segment of “World News” that Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., refused to appear on the show because “he had problems with [ABC’s] past climate coverage.” Specifically, Harris claimed Inhofe had a problem with a 2008 ABC interview with Dr. Fred Singer. Harris then played a clip of Singer’s interview. That was the only ABC broadcast that included a skeptical scientist since 2010.
The March 23, 2008, interview with Singer, on March 23, “World News” dubbed “The Skeptic,” began with Harris asking “Why, despite all the evidence, does this scientist still argue that global warming is a hoax?”
Harris continuously stressed the scientific consensus for climate alarmism, referring to “the broad scientific understanding that global warming is real, man-made and potentially catastrophic” and told Singer that “so many scientists disagree with you.”
Singer taught environmental science for 23 years at the University of Virginia and has worked with the University of Maryland, University of Miami, and the Environmental Protection Agency.
Later in the interview, Harris spoke with Kert Davies, a Greenpeace environmental activist, who alleged that Singer is connected to “oil and coal companies” whose opposition to a global warming consensus will “cost lives.” Harris also quoted unnamed scientists who called Singer’s work “fraudulent nonsense.”
Neither CBS nor NBC were as disrespectful during their inclusion of skeptical scientists, but both networks undermined guests who challenged climate change orthodoxy.
CBS “Evening News” on May 15, 2010, broadcast a long segment on meteorologist Dan Satterfield who described a “mountain range of evidence” proving global warming. CBS interviewed a skeptical meteorologist, John Coleman, and Dr. Roy Spencer whom they called a “doubter.”
Spencer, since leaving his position as Senior Scientist for Climate Studies for NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center, has been the Principal Research Scientist at the University of Alabama in Huntsville and has been funded by various government agencies, including the Department of Energy.
Casting aside his impressive resume, CBS undermined Spencer’s position by describing it as “out of the scientific mainstream.” At least correspondent Elaine Quijano admitted that “it may take 100 years to see who’s right.”
While NBC was the most recent broadcast network to include a segment, that 2013 segment on the “Today” show concealed that fact that Dr. Jay Lehr is both a skeptic and a credentialed scientist. Lehr is the Heartland Institute’s science director and holds degrees from Princeton University and the University of Arizona.
While discussing a UN report about rising carbon dioxide levels, chief environmental affairs correpondent Anne Thompson said that many scientists are worried about these CO2 levels but “some disagree, saying those fears are wildly overblown.”
NBC then played a clip of Lehr stating that CO2 levels have “no bearing on the temperature of the earth.” Immediately afterwards, Thompson warned that scientists were worried. At no point did NBC describe Lehr as a scientist or refer to him as “doctor,” even though they referred to alarmists as scientists.
Widespread Presence of Skeptical Scientists
By widely excluding scientists with other views from their shows, the networks contributed to the widespread myth that there is scientific consensus about the cause and danger of climate change.
In fact, some liberals complain that the media includes too many skeptics. Al Gore wrote a 2011 column in the Rolling Stone attacking the media for giving any attention to climate skeptics. He likened the news media to being a “referee” in the debate. However, he said, the idea of a contest concealed the overwhelming consensus behind climate alarmism. He said “In one corner of the ring are Science and Reason. In the other corner: Poisonous Polluters and Right-wing Ideologues.”
Contrary to Gore’s claims, there is not as much agreement about climate as he suggests. There are thousands of skeptical scientists. In 2010, Marc Morano, who runs the website Climate Depot, published a special report that said, “More than 1,000 dissenting scientists … from around the globe have now challenged man-made global warming claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.”
In 2013, the Heartland Institute released “Climate Change Reconsidered II” which aggregated “thousands of peer-reviewed scientific journal articles that do not support, and indeed often contradict, the IPCC’s alarmist perspective on climate change.” This compendium examined the limitations of climate models, historical global temperatures, and natural factors that could contribute to rising temperatures.
Even the website “Popular Technology” just released a list of “1350+ Peer-Reviewed Papers Supporting Skeptic Arguments Against ACC/AGW Alarm” on Feb. 12, 2014.
Climate alarmists often assert that 97 percent of climate scientists support man-made climate change, and the media often promote that statistic. This claim, however, is wildly misleading.
Methodology: The Business and Media Institute examined Nexis transcripts for ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news shows that included the terms “climate change” or “global warming.” BMI then looked for the most recent appearances of scientists talking about climate, skeptical or alarmist. Individuals were counted as scientists if they had doctorates in hard sciences, such as climatology, physics, engineering and ecology.