By Herman Cain and Dan Gainor For several years, the news media have been warning us of the impending doom of global warming. Well, they almost got it right. Forget their reports that blame everything from hot weather to cold weather on global warming. The impending doom lurking just around the corner is the Kyoto Protocol — and Russia’s decision to go along with this nonsense will make it a reality for a good bit of the globe. The U.S. is already under pressure to join in despite the potential price tag of more than $400 billion each year. The treaty gives industrialized nations just eight years to cut their emissions of six key greenhouse gases. If the U.S. had gone along, we would have been required to cut emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels – nearly 20 percent below current estimates. Think about that for just a second. Imagine cutting emissions 20 percent in just eight years. The U.S. Energy Information Administration estimates that treaty could cost between $225 billion to more than $400 billion annually — equal to every penny earned by more than 5.3 million U.S. households. It could also put between 1.1 million to 4.9 million Americans out of work. Of course, you might not know any of this if you relied on the major media to tell you. A new study by the Media Research Center’s Free Market Project looked at how all five major news shows — the three broadcast channels as well the Fox News Channel and CNN — had handled the issues involving climate change. The study tracked the shows from Jan. 21, 2001, the beginning of the Bush presidency, through September 30, 2004. What we found is that most network news shows hardly even admit there is a scientific debate on global warming. They only did so in 12 stories. That’s 9 percent of the time. Sad to say, they aren’t following the news. The Russian government moved ahead on Kyoto despite objections of its own Academy of Sciences that the thinking behind the treaty is faulty. Network news shows paid no attention. Instead, they repeated the claim that global warming is a given, that mankind is to blame for this “problem” or both 55 percent (77 stories) of the time. That’s roughly six times more often than they even admitted there might be some scientific objection. NBC was the worst of all five networks studied. It took this pro-Kyoto view in 30 stories (64 percent). It also had the lowest percentage of opposition to this view — only three stories (6 percent). That’s a ratio of 10 to 1. Here is a fairly typical network comment — from CBS Evening News reporter Jerry Bowen on August 29, 2002, “Whatever its cause, there is now abundant evidence that the Earth is having a heat wave.” That claim is open to debate. Satellite and weather balloon data indicate no warming is taking place at all. Since those two different measures disagree with ground temperature results, the data deserve more investigation, not more hot air. The networks are only seeing one side of the debate because they are only asking the questions of liberal environmental groups. The Natural Resources Defense Council is interviewed often, but they are never described as a strongly anti-Bush organization even though that is exactly what they are. According to their own website, the Bush administration, “threatens to do more damage to our environmental protections than any other in U.S. history.” No matter who the news shows interviewed, the coverage focused on the impact of global warming. The stories blamed everything from floods to drought on climate change. ABC blamed warming for “erratic” weather such as a Christmas Eve snowstorm in Buffalo of all places. Reporter Neal Karlinsky explained, “Scientists say there is a pattern here. The weather is becoming more erratic for one main reason, the earth is getting warmer.” This virtually guarantees the networks are correct on the issue of global warming. If the weather gets warmer, they were right. If it gets colder, they can blame that on warming. And lastly, if the weather simply changes and produces snow in Buffalo on Christmas Eve, then they can say the weather is changeable. What should be changeable is how the networks handle their global warming coverage. Only the Fox News Channel made a respectable showing in our study. The other four networks need to learn to balance their coverage of this important issue. Until then, network bias is like the weather — something we all complain about but the networks seem unable to do anything to fix. Herman Cain, former president and chairman of Godfather’s Pizza, Inc. and former Senate candidate in Georgia, is now the national chairman of the Media Research Center’s Free Market Project, of which Dan Gainor is director.
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