The Left's Climategate: A Scandal for Journalism, Too

For Decades, the Media Chose to Champion, Not Scrutinize, Claims of Global Warming Alarmists

Two weeks ago, unnamed whistleblowers exposed years of e-mails from scientists working at Britain's Climatic Research Unit (CRU). The CRU's Web site describes it as "one of the world's leading institutions concerned with the study of natural and anthropogenic climate change," but the e-mails paint the CRU as more of a political "war room" for radical environmentalists.

As Boston Globe columnist Jeff Jacoby observed Wednesday: "Assuming the e-mails are genuine, they are nothing short of scandalous. They reveal celebrated climate scientists apparently conspiring to corrupt the peer-review process, to suppress or finesse temperature data at odds with global-warming alarmism, to silence or discredit climate experts who criticize their work, and to hide or eliminate the raw data on which their own much-trumpeted claims have been based."

Yet since the story broke, the MRC's Business & Media Institute (BMI) discovered just one broadcast news reference to the "Climategate" e-mail scandal, on ABC's This Week November 29; CBS and NBC have yet to inform their viewers. The media's current silence is made worse by the decades they spent promoting the Left's alarmist global warming agenda and excluding any doubters from the discussion, as documented by numerous MRC studies:

■ MRC's Free Market Project found that between January 1993 and October 1997 - a period leading up to the Kyoto conference that December - just 5% of global warming stories on the ABC, CBS, CNN and NBC evening newscasts mentioned the arguments of skeptical scientists, and 85% of stories did not even acknowledge the existence of scientific skeptics.

■ From January 20 through April 22, 2001, as liberals were condemning President George W. Bush for his failure to push ratification of the Kyoto treaty, the ABC, CBS and NBC evening news shows completely excluded the views of global warming skeptics from their coverage, while just one story on CNN included a dissenter - a 97% skew in favor of the doomsayers.

■ In early 2007, as Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth was handed an Academy Award, the broadcast network morning news shows ramped up their global warming coverage. But skeptics were once again frozen out: MRC analysts found just 3% of stories contained any mention of dissent from Gore's approach to global warming - and even those were heavily stacked in favor of his "climate crisis" position.

BMI analysts reviewed ABC, CBS and NBC's morning and evening news shows from July 1 through December 31, 2007. Once again, 80% of stories failed to acknowledge any dissent from the liberal orthodoxy on warming. CBS was the most lopsided, with 97% of its stories carrying only the alarmist perspective.

More than 20 years ago, NBC's Andrea Mitchell admitted how the media had taken sides on global warming. "The networks have made that decision now, where you'd have to call it advocacy," Mitchell announced at a September 16, 1989 global warming conference held at the Smithsonian (later quoted in the Wall Street Journal).

When journalists become advocates, they inevitably fail to hold both sides accountable. If reporters had maintained an unbiased approach to global warming, they conceivably could have uncovered Climategate years ago. The question now is, will they admit the Left's global warming scandal even exists?