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March Madness: Full-Court Press on Global Warming
Aggressive focus on manmade climate change is far from a real ‘tipping point’ – it’s a coordinated liberal media play.

  • Time, ABC and CBS either ignored or marginalized scientists who present facts that counter manmade global warming theory.
  • Media sometimes made a pretense of “debate,” but more often they declared the debate over to excuse one-sided coverage.
  • Same old, same old: Media blamed Bush and the United States for global warming, quoting senators who voted against Kyoto but now stump for economy-draining measures to curb emissions.
  • Despite the media’s best efforts, nearly two out of three Americans still understand there are two sides to this debate.

See our fact sheet on Global Warming

By Amy Menefee and Dan Gainor
Free Market Project
March 29, 2006

     “Members of the Society of Professional Journalists believe that public enlightenment is the forerunner of justice and the foundation of democracy. The duty of the journalist is to further those ends by seeking truth and providing a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues.” – Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) Code of Ethics

     Hello, global warming. Goodbye, journalistic ethics.

     The newest Time magazine/ABC News poll showed about two-thirds of Americans still believe there’s a debate about global warming, despite the media’s best efforts to convince them otherwise. Americans now face an onslaught of one-sided global warming coverage that downplays or even derides critics and skeptics.

     “It’s no longer a controversy. Science tells us it’s a fact. The new issue of Time magazine tells us to worry,” proclaimed ABC’s Terry Moran on the March 27 “Nightline.”

 
 
 
 

     Time devoted 24 full pages of its April 3 edition to shameless advocacy about global warming, blaming the United States and the Bush administration for destroying the world. Time called the United States “intransigent” for not joining Kyoto’s emissions mandates and the White House’s environmental record “dismal.” Simultaneously, ABC launched a series of reports on global warming.

Send this page to a friend! (click here)     Behind a cover that read, “Be Worried. Be Very Worried,” Time informed its readers: “… in the past five years or so, the serious debate has quietly ended.” That was a common assumption of media reports in the last two weeks.

     In its April 3 piece, Newsweek explained the timing of the latest round of climate change coverage. The article, headlined “The New Hot Zone,” included the explanation: “Books, films and a slick ad campaign make global warming the topic du jour.”

     Newsweek’s Jerry Adler detailed part of the coordinated campaign – the Ad Council’s global warming ad released on the same day as “the premiere of a lavishly produced documentary, ‘The Great Warming.’” Adler added that two “major books on the subject” were due out in March, and May will bring the release of “An Inconvenient Truth,” former Democratic presidential candidate Al Gore’s “one-man crusade against warming” in both film and book form.

     Adler and fellow contributors Karen Breslau and Vanessa Juarez acknowledged dissent on global warming, citing the petition signed by more than 17,000 scientists. That petition stated: “There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gasses is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the Earth's atmosphere and disruption of the Earth’s climate.”

     The Newsweek writers, however, dismissed those 17,000 scientists and the research they had cited. Because the signers began endorsing the petition in 1998, Newsweek derided them for “using decade-old data to make a political point in 2006.”


Anything but Equal Time for Experts
     When it came to dissenters on the causes and effects of global warming, Time referred to them as: “the naysayers – many of whom were on the payroll of energy companies” who “have become an increasingly marginalized breed.”

     The media have “marginalized” those who present scientific evidence that man is not causing the bulk of global warming, and that nature is in a series of cycles of warming and cooling.

     One of those voices is James M. Taylor, managing editor of The Heartland Institute’s Environment and Climate News. Newsweek’s April 3 issue called one of his positions “preposterous,” rather than treat his comments in an even-handed manner.

     On the broadcast front, ABC’s “World News Tonight” gave Virginia State Climatologist Pat Michaels the third degree on March 26. Reporter Geoff Morrell called Michaels “one of a handful of skeptics,” in a “tiny minority.” The entire story attempted to undermine Michaels’ position, calling him a scientist who was “friendly” with the oil industry.

     Even government experts who dared question the media’s concerted effort were either ignored or pushed to the fringe. The March 20 “CBS Evening News” included a Jim Acosta story discussing the danger of storms and the hypothesis that climate change was giving them added power.

     Acosta interviewed Georgia Tech researcher Judith Curry, who had just released a study about the “possible risk of increasing hurricane intensity associated with global warming.”

     Max Mayfield from the government’s own National Hurricane Center followed and said that “natural variability alone is what this can be attributed to.” Acosta then cited how the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration says flat out that the two are “not related.” But Curry got the last word saying, “That is misleading”

     In a rare story that treated both sides more equally, CNN’s Rob Marciano interviewed Dr. William Gray, who has studied hurricanes for 50 years. Gray, of Colorado State University, said on the March 23 “Your World Today” that man is not causing global warming.

     “As far as causing the globe to warm, we have not done that,” Gray said. Marciano added that “Dr. Gray says the warming is natural, a regular feature of global cycles, and not from greenhouse gases.”

     The March 19 “60 Minutes” used a unique way to give standing to one government expert. Co-host Scott Pelley described James Hansen as “arguably the world’s leading researcher on global warming,” before claiming that Hansen has been somehow censored by the government. That censoring apparently didn’t apply to his CBS performance. Hansen was part of a more-than-13-minute segment where he was given 10 separate quotes.

     Hansen, according to Pelley, “calls himself an independent, and he’s had trouble with both parties.” But according to the Cybercast News Service, Hansen “publicly endorsed Democrat John Kerry for president and received a $250,000 grant from the charitable foundation headed by Kerry's wife.” The Cybercast News Service, also operated by FMP parent the Media Research Center, went on show how Hansen had even praised Sen. Kerry, “declaring that ‘John Kerry has a far better grasp than President Bush on the important issues that we face.’”


Senators’ Kyoto Votes, Kyoto Costs Conveniently Ignored
     An ongoing theme of media coverage was blaming President Bush for pulling out of the Kyoto accord. This strategy has been documented by the Free Market Project in the report “Destroying America To Save The World” and was a theme of the Time magazine spread.

     While Time admitted Kyoto was “an imperfect accord,” the cover story said it was “undeniable” that the White House’s environmental record was “dismal,” including “the abandonment of Kyoto.” That wasn’t the only mention in the April 3 issue. In other parts of the global warming package, writers claimed “the Bush Administration dropped out of Kyoto” and “The Bush Administration, in turn, has rejected Kyoto.”

     The magazine left out the fact that the Senate, which must OK all treaties, voted 95-0 against Kyoto on July 25, 1997. Obscuring that truth, one article included comments from senators now “unable to get through the Senate even mild measures to limit carbon.” The article mentioned four senators by name: John McCain (R-Ariz.), Joe Lieberman (D-Conn.), Pete Domenici (R-NM) and Jeff Bingaman (D-NM). Of those, Domenici was listed as a co-sponsor of the vote against Kyoto and all four voted against Kyoto, along with former Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry (D-Mass.).

     Media reports have continued to ignore the massive costs to the U.S. economy and the world from Kyoto or other emissions-cutting mandates. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimated in 1998 that U.S. compliance with Kyoto could cost between $100 billion and $400 billion annually.

     But Myron Ebell, director of energy and global warming policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, said “the costs are a lot higher than the prevailing estimates” when the United States was looking into Kyoto in the late ’90s.

     “The models basically agreed that for the U.S. to meet its targets in the transportation sector, the price of gasoline would have to go up about 75 cents a gallon,” Ebell said. But despite recent rises in gas prices, demand has not waned enough to make much of a difference in emissions output.
 

January 1989 April 2001 April 2006


Time and Time Again
     This isn’t the first year Time magazine has done a special global warming report – in fact, it’s had similar cover stories at least six times in the past 20 years. The articles from 2001 and this latest edition even share headlines (“Feeling the Heat”) and common reporters (Jeffrey Kluger, David Bjerklie and Andrea Dorfman).

     In the Jan. 2, 1989, issue, “Endangered Earth,” Time called for raising the gas tax by Al Gore’s suggested 50 cents per gallon, and Gore was on the next page with an essay on “a senator’s impassioned call for action” even though he didn’t mention the tax. Time suggested nations should “impose special taxes on carbon dioxide emissions” and devoted 33 pages plus a large pullout poster to global warming.

     Then in the April 9, 2001, edition, Kluger and Co. wrote, “Except for nuclear war or a collision with an asteroid, no force has more potential to damage our planet’s web of life than global warming.” That magazine had 16 pages of “Feeling the Heat,” including a revealing poll: “Would you personally be willing to support tough government action to help reduce global warming even if each of the following happened as a result?” Forty-nine percent of Americans said no to higher utility bills, while 55 percent said they wouldn’t want to see increased unemployment. People also spoke out about raising gas prices – in 1990 more were in favor of it in the name of helping the planet, but that number had decreased in the 2001 poll.

     This year’s 24-page extravaganza spared no expense for melodrama and pontification: “Curbing global warming may be an order of magnitude harder than, say, eradicating smallpox or putting a man on the moon. But is it moral not to try? We did not so much march toward the environmental precipice as drunkenly reel there, snapping at the scientific scolds who told us we had a problem. The scolds, however, knew what they were talking about.”

     Time resurrected the stronger-hurricanes-through-global-warming argument again, though hurricane experts have disputed that manmade global warming is causing fiercer storms. Time said: “It is fitting, perhaps, that as the species causing all the problems, we’re suffering the destruction of our habitat too.” According to that story, “Two studies last year found that in the past 35 years the number of Category 4 and 5 hurricanes worldwide has doubled while the wind speed and duration of all hurricanes has jumped 50%.”

     Too bad they didn’t look at more than 35 years of data, said Virginia State Climatologist Pat Michaels – because they missed part of the hurricane cycle. “There is good data back to 1944,” Michaels said. “The proportion of Category 4 and 5 storms in the mid-’40s to the 1960s is the same as it is now. I think it’s quite remarkable that Time magazine could miss that.”


Pushing ‘Debate’ Past the ‘Tipping Point’
     The major media were promoting what they called a “tipping point.” In fact, that exact phrase was common among the stories bombarding readers and viewers during the last two weeks. Time led the way with its massive coverage and elaborate descriptions: “By Any Measure, Earth Is At ... The Tipping Point. The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame.”

     George Stephanopoulos, a one-time senior Clinton adviser turned chief Washington correspondent, asked, “Have we reached the tipping point?” during the March 26 “This Week” program on ABC. On “Good Morning America” the same day, conservationist and author of “The Weather Makers” Tim Flannery used the exact same term. “There is no point waiting ‘til we’ve reached that tipping point,” he said. “It’s then too late. It really is.”

     Conservative commentator George Will was one of the few questioning the massive media agreement on global warming, on the March 26 “This Week.” First, ABC’s George Stephanopoulos gave a nod to the Time cover story: “Says the debate is over. ‘The serious debate has quietly ended.’” Will responded by pointing out that many major publications that promote warming now once claimed an ice age was occurring during the 1970s. He said even if “I’m willing to stipulate all the sources that were wrong 30 years ago are now right,” any effort to stem warming would cost “trillions of dollars of sacrifice from world economic growth.”

     That was more debate than could be found in most stories. On the March 26 “Good Morning America,” Stephanopoulos had put forth the fantasy that the media are treating global warming like it’s a debate. “We’re also going to get into the global warming debate,” he said. The report that followed showed nothing of another side. Instead, it was filled with predictions like finding “cities like New York, Miami, Charleston, South Carolina, completely submerged under water.”

     While reporter Nancy Weiner admitted that “the water wouldn’t come crashing down city streets the way it does in the movie ‘The Day After Tomorrow,’” she hyped the threat to “huge chunks of American coastal cities.”

     Far from a debate, ABC put on four different experts – none of whom had any disagreements with the network’s premise of “The Hot Zone.” They included Vivian Gornitz, a “sea-level specialist,” who warned of “water lapping at out toes” and Harvey Ruvin of Miami’s Climate Change Adaptation Task Force.

     CBS anchor Bob Schieffer pretended the media were allowing disparate voices as well. In his March 23 “Evening News” broadcast, Schieffer claimed: “There is no end to the debate over global warming.” But reporter Jerry Bowen’s story that followed that statement only included one “expert,” and she was warning that new above-ground ice quakes were yet another sign of climate change. Bowen didn’t offer any contrary view. “At present, that day of reckoning may be within just a hundred years,” he said.
 

 


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