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New Media Hysteria on Global Warming

The latest catastrophe is really nothing new

ABC, CNN, CBS and Newsweek are all talking about a climate disaster that would end the world as we know it — raising sea levels, swamping cities and killing people by the tens of thousands. This latest catastrophe — not to be confused with media hype on Y2K, SARS, Avian Flu, obesity or the coming ice age — is really nothing new.

Lately, the major media have been promoting what they called a "tipping point" or point of no return. But they’ve already reached it … in their own climate coverage. Since the media gave up their concern for global cooling in the 1970s, they’ve attacked global warming and the whole foundation of unbiased journalism at the same time. They don’t even make any pretense about it, with the April 3 issue of Time declaring, "The debate is over. Global warming is upon us — with a vengeance."

After all, journalists are always right. Even better, if the debate is settled, why have opposing voices? They don’t have to — not that they ever gave credence to them anyhow.

In one bit of misdirection, the March 23 "CBS Evening News" pretended that network still gave two sides. Anchor Bob Schieffer claimed: "There is no end to the debate over global warming." Unlike the Time statement, that claim was accurate. Unfortunately, reporter Jerry Bowen’s story that followed only included one "expert" and she was warning of yet another reported sign of climate change. Bowen didn’t offer a contrary view. "At present, that day of reckoning may be within just a hundred years," he said.

That day of reckoning for journalists needs to be right now. ABC News and Time are at the forefront of this latest effort to make news, not report it, with Time claiming: "suddenly and unexpectedly, the crisis is upon us."

The "crisis" is one involving the journalistic climate, not the earth’s. No one has to be licensed or join any group to be a journalist, nor should they have to do so. But the Society of Professional Journalists (SPJ) does have some solid ethical guidelines for reporters and editors that include "a fair and comprehensive account of events and issues."

When’s the last time Time, ABC and others gave us a full account of this issue instead of open advocacy? The SPJ guidelines go on to encourage "the open exchange of views, even views they find repugnant." It’s obvious the media find opposing views "repugnant," when they bother to find them at all.

They should bother. They’d find scientists who don’t even dispute that some warming has occurred in the last 100 years. What they do dispute is the "Day After Tomorrow" scenarios that blame every change in the worldwide weather on global warming. One recent ABC report interviewed climatologist Pat Michaels, who dares challenge the media mindset, and the story made him look like part of a minority so small he’d have trouble getting a poker game together.

The SPJ also encourages reporters to "distinguish between advocacy and news reporting." Anyone who saw the latest Time effort knows it was 24 pages of advocacy with elaborate descriptions of an earth in pain: "that’s not to say the planet can’t behave like a living thing, and these days, it’s a living thing fighting a fever."

Hopefully Mother Earth has good health care coverage, because Time has been telling us about this "fever" for 17 years. On Jan. 2, 1989, the Time cover story warned of threats to our "Endangered Earth," including, of course, global warming. Just five years ago, the magazine showed the earth in a frying pan above the words "Global Warming."

All three cover stories were similar. The latest two have identical headlines and even some of the same reporters. All three feature global warming perennial Al Gore in some form or fashion.

For almost two decades, the magazine and many others in the media have tried to overwhelm us with global warming propaganda. Just recently, a climate change ad from the Ad Council was released on the same day as the documentary "The Great Warming." According to Newsweek, two "major books on the subject" were due out in March, and May is the scheduled release of "An Inconvenient Truth," a film and a book about Gore’s "one-man crusade against warming."

All of that conveniently around the same moment in Time, ABC and other media where they give us heat about global warming. If you think that’s all a coincidence, then you watch too much network TV news.

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Written By

Mr. Gainor, director of the Business & Media Institute and the Boone Pickens Free Market Fellow, is a veteran editor with two decades of experience in print and online media.

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