Horsefeathers and Hot Air
On November 10, a press release from the Media Research Center’s Free Market Project reported their analysis of major TV networks’ coverage of global warming issues.
The analysis shows pretty clearly why so many people erroneously believe they know so much about the subject. Even people who paid fairly close attention to the networks’ coverage could not know what the anchors and editors chose not to tell them.
Here is a part of the report’s executive summary:
To document how network news has slanted the global warming debate, researchers with the Media Research Center’s Free Market Project analyzed all 165 news stories about global warming aired on the three broadcast network evening newscasts and two cable news shows between January 20, 2001 and September 30, 2004. Among the major findings:
- Global Warming More Dangerous Than Kyoto Treaty: Three times as many network stories (46 percent) featured dramatic reports about global warming’s potential impact than mentioned the downside of signing the treaty (12 percent).
- NBC, CBS and CNN Ignore Specific Cost of Kyoto: The cost to American taxpayers of adopting the Kyoto provisions have been estimated as high as $440 billion annually. ABC and the Fox News Channel were the only two networks that told viewers about the potentially crippling price tag. Even those were brief mentions in larger reports. NBC, CBS and CNN failed to pass on this essential information. No story on any network was devoted solely to discussing the treaty’s economic impact. Broadcast news shows mentioned polar bears three times as often as they discussed any cost attributed to signing Kyoto.
- Bipartisan Opposition to Treaty Unreported: Only one of 165 news stories mentioned that the Senate had voted unanimously 95-0 against Kyoto. Forty-nine stories on all five news programs cited President Bush’s 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). That’s six times more often than they showed valid scientific objection to global warming theories.