Accuracy in Media

By Roger Aronoff*

(Editor’s note: The Newsweek article Roger Aronoff analyzes in this AIM Report mentions a Newsweek poll finding that 42 percent said the press “exaggerates the threat of climate change.” This cover story, by Sharon Begley, with assistance from Eve Conant, Sam Stein, Eleanor Clift, and Matthew Philips, is an example of that bias. It will undoubtedly create more of a feeling by the public that the media can’t be trusted to present both sides on this critical issue.

In another irony, a note from Newsweek editor Jon Meacham in this issue, dated August 13, mentions the fact that Newsweek had run an article in its April 28, 1975, edition headlined “The Cooling World,” exploring the prospect of a new ice age. Meacham says this article has been cited “as an example of how wrong journalists and researchers can be.” He asks, “In 2040, will the editor of Newsweek hold up this week’s issue as an alarmist and discredited report in the tradition of 1975’s ‘global cooling’ story?” He hopes not. He says he thinks that Newsweek got it right this time.

But Robert Ferguson, president of the Science and Public Policy Institute, commented that “Newsweek’s latest cover story predicting ‘global warming’ catastrophe is no more scientific and no less incredible than its story 30 years ago predicting ‘global cooling’.”)

The extremists committed to the man-made global warming theory?that humans are causing the world to get hotter and that we have to drastically raise taxes and/or ration energy in response?are on the run. How else does one explain the sensational Newsweek cover story with the provocative headline, “Global Warming is a Hoax,*” over a photo of a boiling sun?

Newsweek, a Washington Post property, claims to be telling us “The Truth About Denial,” and to make sure everyone gets the point, it uses some form of the word “denial” 20 times, including “denial machine” 14 times.

The article, which is the worst kind of advocacy journalism, is a shoddy attempt to suggest that those opposed to the theory are like holocaust deniers. 

The asterisk in the Newsweek headline leads to a smaller note connecting the “hoax” charge to “well-funded naysayers who still reject the overwhelming evidence of climate change.” Newsweek tells its readers that its cover story is about “the denial machine”?those against the theory. 

Smear Tactics

The term “denial” is, of course, usually associated with “Holocaust denial”?the view that the Nazi destruction of millions of Jews in Europe was exaggerated or did not even occur. As such, the Newsweek story was a deliberate effort to smear opponents of the global warming theory. Perhaps the word “news” should be taken out of Newsweek. The magazine has become a shameless propagandist for one side in this debate.

What is at stake is our standard of living.

In fact, while most observers and experts agree that the climate is changing and may even be warming over the long term, the real debate is over whether human activities, such as the burning of fossil fuels, are responsible, and whether we can do anything about it. The critics of the theory cast doubt on that connection, noting the lack of definitive evidence of a cause and effect. There are other explanations for possible warming, such as solar activity.

Newsweek knows that, if the theory is accepted, this leads to demands for domestic and even international policies to reduce our standard of living by drastically cutting our access to energy. Those policies, in turn, lead to tax increases or energy rationing, even on a global basis. The United Nations, for example, has suggested a 35 cent-a-gallon gas tax, using the proceeds for increased foreign aid and other global purposes.

The Newsweek story is misleading, even false, in another key aspect. Senate staffer Marc Morano, a long-time conservative journalist and activist, points out that while those skeptical of the man-made global warming theory have received some $19 million, the forces favored by Newsweek have taken in closer to $50 billion, much of it from American taxpayers and channeled through federal and global agencies. This figure, of course, doesn’t include the dollar value of all of the media coverage in support of the theory.

That’s $50 billion versus $19 million.

Morano works for Senator James Inhofe, ranking Republican member of the Senate Environment Committee.

It was before this committee that Australian climate scientist Bob Carter testified that “In one of the more expensive ironies of history, the expenditure of more than $50 billion on research into global warming since 1990 has failed to demonstrate any human-caused climate trend, let alone a dangerous one.”

Spiking Facts

Morano revealed that Newsweek reporter Eve Conant, who contributed to the piece and interviewed Senator Inhofe, “was given all the latest data proving conclusively that it is the proponents of man-made global warming fears that enjoy a monumental funding advantage over the skeptics.”

But Newsweek didn’t and won’t report that. The facts have taken a back seat to propaganda.

Morano commented, “Journalism students across the world can read this week’s cover story to learn how reporting should not be done. Hopefully, that will be Newsweek’s legacy? serving as a shining example of the failure of modern journalism to adhere to balance, objectivity and fairness.”

Under President Bush alone, according to the administration’s own account, $9 billion has been spent since 2002 on “climate change research” devoted to promoting the controversial theory. The administration also boasts that “Multilaterally, the United States is by far the largest financial provider for the activities of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.” The latter is the controversial body that has most loudly sounded the alarm.

The well-funded lobby, in truth, is financed by U.S. taxpayers. This is the story Newsweek won’t tell.

The Tide Turns

The notion had been propagated in the media and popular culture that there is a “consensus” among virtually all scientists not funded by oil and gas money that the world is heating up at a rapid pace, and that this is a result of human activity, especially in North America and Europe, where people are consuming too much carbon-based energy.

For example, Dr. Heidi Cullen of The Weather Channel said that “If a meteorologist can’t speak to the fundamental science of climate change, then maybe the AMS (the American Meteorological Society) shouldn’t give them a Seal of Approval. Clearly, the AMS doesn’t agree that global warming can be blamed on cyclical weather patterns.”

Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., spoke at Al Gore’s Live Earth event on July 7. Referring to global warming skeptics, he said, “This is treason. And we need to start treating them as traitors.” The lynch mob was gathering.

CBS’s Scott Pelley had previously used the Newsweek tactic of comparing the skeptics to Holocaust deniers. When he was asked why, in a “60 Minutes” story on global warming he ignored the views of the skeptics, he said, “If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?” This is the mentality among many in the media, and it is reflected in the Newsweek cover story. 

Inappropriate Reference

But according to one of the believers in the man-made global warming theory, Roger Pielke, Jr. of the University of Colorado’s Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, the allusion to so-called “deniers” is “an affront to those who suffered and died in the Holocaust. This allusion has no place in the discourse on climate change.”

Newsweek didn’t take his admonition seriously. Instead, it resorted to using smear tactics against one side.

Newsweek’s own Robert Samuelson wrote a column in Newsweek’s August 20 issue saying that while its “hoax” article was entertaining, it was simplistic and misleading. He said the magazine was wrong to spin a “morality tale” in which critics of the man-made global warming theory were portrayed as fools, cranks or industry stooges.

If journalists practiced real journalism, in terms of getting access to different sources of information, they would consult and make use of Senator Inhofe’s website, where Marc Morano’s information appears.

Many in the liberal media despise Inhofe and Morano because they are so effective in poking big holes in the arguments of the other side.

Morano occasionally points to incredibly bizarre statements made by those who believe in the man-made global warming theory. For example, he notes that Joseph Romm, who served as Acting Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy in 1997 and as Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary from 1995 though 1998, stated in a piece entitled “Did Climate Change Contribute To The Minneapolis Bridge Collapse?” that “?we should seek to learn whether such troubled bridges can take the ever-growing stresses generated by global warming.”

Interestingly, however, after Al Gore’s film “An Inconvenient Truth” won the Academy Award for best documentary, many scientists began coming out of the “Skeptic” closet. They had seen enough and were no longer going to fear the wrath of the media.

In a column, Morano identified scientists who have gone from believer to skeptic. They include David Bellamy, “famed UK environmental campaigner recently converted into a skeptic after reviewing the new science and who now calls global warming fears “poppycock.” And Claude Allegre, “a top geophysicist and French Socialist” who now says the cause of climate change is “unknown,” accused the proponents of “manmade catastrophic global warming of being motivated by money.” There are many more, identified and quoted.

Britain’s Lord Monckton, an expert on climate-change policy, said that “The central question is this: By how much will global temperature increase in response to any foreseeable increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide? On that question, the ‘climate sensitivity question,’ there is no consensus whatsoever among the scientific community. There is no scientific basis for the current panic.”

Hypocrisy

While the standard of living of Americans is at stake in this debate, some of the most prominent liberals promoting radical changes in the U.S. and global economies have figured out a way for themselves to avoid any restrictions at all.

Former Vice President Al Gore, for example, was recently exposed for having a 20-room mansion in Tennessee, a virtual gas-guzzling Hummer of a house. It reportedly uses between 12 and 20 times more energy than the national average.

Snopes, the left-leaning checker-of-all-Internet-stories for accuracy, determined that President Bush is the winner over Al Gore, in terms of who lives life better as a personal environmentalist. The findings were clear cut. Bush’s Crawford, Texas ranch is a model energy-efficient dwelling.

Gore, of course, claims to purchase “carbon offsets” to bring his carbon footprint down to zero. This is a controversial practice that enables the rich to continue living a luxurious lifestyle. Gore makes the purchases through a company of which he is chairman and part owner, Generation Investment Management. 

The Global Game

The same kind of practice is being used globally under the Kyoto Protocol, a treaty supposedly designed to reduce the threat posed by global warming. As noted by a Wall Street Journal article, China, which is trying to become a developed nation, “is turning its environmental problems into a shrewdly managed financial asset.” Germany, a Western industrialized nation, proudly signed on to Kyoto, and cut a deal with China. The deal allows Germany to go right on emitting the same amount of CO2 as before, while financing a program in China that is meant to help them on the path to reduced carbon emissions.

But China has figured the game out. They produce “HFC-23, a greenhouse gas that scientists say is thousands of times more potent than CO2 and that is a byproduct of the manufacture of a common refrigerant, HCFC-22.”

Here’s where it gets interesting. The Western investors, in this case German companies, pay “roughly $8 a CO2-equivalent ton for destroying the HFC-23. That is a bargain for the Western investors, who would have to pay far more to reduce emissions back home. It also is a boon for the Chinese companies, for whom the actual cost of destroying the gas is less than $1 a CO2-equivalent ton of emissions, the metric used in the carbon market.”

So no one reduces emissions and the “problem” gets worse, not better. According to Canada’s National Post, this actually has the effect of promoting the manufacture of large quantities of HFC-23, which is done very cheaply as a by-product, because there is so much profit in destroying it.

The Post describes the process as follows: “Emissions credits are not ‘goods’ that individuals or companies buy because they want or need them to increase their satisfaction or profitability. They are arbitrary, bureaucratically manufactured ‘rights to pollute.'”

In effect, it becomes another commodity to buy, sell or trade. Their use enables companies to pour money into China and other developing nations, a clever way of transferring wealth from “rich” countries. It is, in essence, another form of foreign aid. In a real sense, it is a disguised tax on developed nations.

The Bush policies continue to be the subject of much debate. He didn’t, as Newsweek claimed, withdraw the U.S. from the Kyoto Treaty in 2001. As Alan Murray of the Wall Street Journal pointed out in 2004, “In truth, the Bush Administration has withdrawn from neither the climate talks, nor the treaty. President Bush has instead merely continued the Clinton policy of refusing to send the signed Kyoto treaty to the Senate for a vote. Formal rejection by the executive is achieved by renouncing the signature, as President Bush did in fact do regarding the International Criminal Court.”

As far back as 2002, Bush announced plans to cut our nation’s “greenhouse gas intensity?how much we emit per unit of economic activity?by 18 percent by 2012.”

Now, however, he is moving toward some form of international regime to manage CO2 emissions. As we noted in a recent AIM Report, Bush, at the recent G-8 meeting in Germany, specifically committed the U.S. to drastically reducing CO2 emissions through increased regulations, higher taxes, or both.

Bush is himself sponsoring a “Major Economies Meeting on Energy Security and Climate Change” on September 27-28, 2007, in Washington, D.C. The invited foreign participants include the European Union (Current EU President and European Commission), plus France, Germany, Italy, and the United Kingdom, Japan, China, Canada, India, Brazil, South Korea, Mexico, Russia, Australia, Indonesia, South Africa, and the United Nations.

The Censors

Bush’s capitulation to the alarmists is a victory for media bias.

If there is any rigid thought control in this debate over global warming, it is being exercised by those passionately committed to the alarmist theory who refuse to tolerate dissent. 

Michael Griffin, the head of NASA, got a taste of it when he dared to suggest that global warming, natural or not, wasn’t anything to worry or do anything about. “I have no doubt that global?that a trend of global warming exists,” he said in a taped interview that aired on National Public Radio. “I am not sure that it is fair to say that is a problem we must wrestle with.”

He continued: “I guess I would ask which human beings, where and when, are to be accorded the privilege of deciding that this particular climate that we have right here today, right now, is the best climate for all other human beings. I think that’s a rather arrogant position for people to take.”

A subsequent controversy over his remarks, caused by the proponents of the man-made global warming theory, prompted him to say that he should have stayed out of the debate. 

Exhibiting the same kind of bias driving Newsweek, NBC and its affiliated networks turned over close to 75 hours of air time to Al Gore’s Live Earth concerts, constituting a massive endorsement of one side in this debate.

Where’s the Fairness Doctrine when we need it?

We should know by now that the concept of “fairness” is only supposed to apply to those who disagree with liberals. We are supposed to be “fair” to them by presenting their view?and only their view?as the truth.

In this context, it is interesting to note that the Newsweek article attacks conservative talk radio and Rush Limbaugh by name for not accepting the man-made global warming theory.  Limbaugh and talk-radio hosts are supposed to be the ones misleading and misinforming people.

In fact, the proponents of this theory, as reflected in the Newsweek article, are the mud-slingers. They have a political agenda that threatens the American way of life.

Threats

Their vicious nature was also demonstrated when it came to light that Michael T. Eckhart, president of the environmental group the American Council on Renewable Energy (ACORE), wrote an email on July 13, 2007, to Marlo Lewis of the Competitive Enterprise Institute and declared, “It is my intention to destroy your career as a liar. If you produce one more editorial against climate change, I will launch a campaign against your professional integrity. I will call you a liar and charlatan to the Harvard community of which you and I are members. I will call you out as a man who has been bought by Corporate America. Go ahead, guy. Take me on.”

Since the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is a member of ACORE, Senator Inhofe asked EPA Administrator Stephen Johnson about it. He said he would look into it.

What You Can Do

Send the enclosed cards or cards and letters of your own choosing to Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News and Senator Joseph Biden. And please contribute to our special project to maintain freedom of the airwaves.

*Roger Aronoff is a media analyst with Accuracy in Media.



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