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12 Days, 3 Networks and No Mention of ClimateGate Scandal

Even as Copenhagen looms, broadcast news ignores e-mails suggesting warming alarmists 'manipulated' data, conspired to destroy information and thwarted peer reviews.

Business & Media Institute

It's been nearly two weeks since a scandal shook many people's faith in the scientists behind global warming alarmism. The scandal forced the University of East Anglia (UK) to divulge that it threw away raw temperature data and prompted the temporary resignation of Phil Jones of the university's Climate Research Unit.

Despite that resignation and calls by a U.S. senator to investigate the matter, ABC, CBS and NBC morning and evening news programming has remained silent - not mentioning a word about the scandal since it broke on Nov. 20, even as world leaders including President Barack Obama prepare to meet in Copenhagen, Denmark next week to promote a pact to reduce greenhouse gases.

Other news outlets, including The New York Times, Washington Post, CNN and Associated Press have deemed ClimateGate worthy of reporting, but the networks were too busy reporting on celebrity car accidents and the killer whale that ate a great white shark. Instead of airing a broadcast news segment that might inform the public about the science scandal, both ABC and CBS relegated the story to their Web sites. There was one mention of the scandal on ABC's Sunday talk show: "This Week with George Stephanopoulos."

The ClimateGate scandal, as it is being called, has the hallmarks of a major news story: private emails purporting to show unethical or illegal behavior supplied by a hacker or whistleblower, high profile scientists like James Hansen and Michael Mann, and a potential conspiracy to distort science for political gain. But the networks haven't bothered with the story.

Patrick J. Michaels, a climatologist and BMI adviser, said Nov. 20 of the leaked e-mails and documents: "This isn't a smoking gun, it's a mushroom cloud."

White House press secretary Robert Gibbs responded to a question about ClimateGate by insisting that "global warming is happening" and that for most people it isn't really a question anymore. That is the same message viewers get from the network news about climate change.

An examination of morning and evening news programs on ABC, CBS and NBC since Nov. 20 yielded zero mentions of the scandal, even in the Nov. 25 reports about Obama going to Copenhagen to discuss the need for emissions reductions. But during the same time period, the networks reported on pro-golfer Tiger Woods' "minor" car accident at least 37 times. They also found time to report on an orphaned Moose and the meal selection at the president's State Dinner.

ClimateGate began after someone (hacker or whistleblower) attacked servers of University of East Anglia's Climate Research Unit (CRU) and made thousands of e-mails and documents public. Those e-mails appear to show a conspiracy to falsify temperature data, a willingness to destroy information rather than release it under Freedom of Information (FOI) law and the intimidation of publications willing to publish skeptical articles.

CRU's director Phil Jones admitted real CRU e-mails had been stolen when he told New Zealand's Investigate magazine, "It was a hacker. We were aware of this about three or four days ago that someone had hacked into our system and taken and copied loads of data files and emails." Others argue a whistleblower was responsible for the breach.

One of those alleged e-mails was from Jones to Michael Mann (famous for his hockey stick graph of global warming) and two others appeared to indicate manipulation of scientific data.

Jones wrote: "I've just completed Mike's Nature trick of adding in the real temps to each series for the last 20 years (ie from 1981 onwards) amd [Sic] from 1961 for Keith's to hide the decline."

Jones, who contributed to a chapter of the U.N.'s IPCC report, claims the term "trick" was used "colloquially as in a clever thing to do." Myron Ebell, Director of Global Warming Policy for the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI), supplied his own view of what Jones and Mann meant by hiding the decline.

Ebell wrote in the National Post: "What is the clever method that Prof. Jones learned from Prof. Mann? I think he is referring to the way Prof. Mann constructed his celebrated hockey stick graph. His proxy records showed flat temperatures for the past 1,000 years, including the past century. But everyone knows that temperatures have gone up rapidly in the past few decades ... So what Prof. Mann did was splice the last few decades of surface temperature records onto his proxy record. Voila! - the hockey stick."

The alleged e-mails were enough to force Jones' temporary resignation. On Dec. 1, Associated Press reported that Jones is "stepping down pending an investigation into allegations that he overstated the case for man-made climate change."

Other leaked e-mails asked people to delete e-mails and one said that if information was requested using FOI, it would be deleted rather than turned over:

Alleged e-mail from Jones to Mann Feb. 2, 2005:

"The two MMs have been after the CRU station data for years. If they ever hear there is a Freedom of Information Act now in the UK, I think I'll delete the file rather than send to anyone. Does your similar act in the US force you to respond to enquiries within 20 days? - our does ! The UK works on precedents, so the first request will test it. We also have a data protection act, which I will hide behind."

In Britain, it is a crime to delete information requested under FOI.

Networks Focus on Tiger's 'Minor' Accident, Sea Lions, Pete the Moose

In more than a week, the networks couldn't be bothered to report on the ClimateGate scandal. Instead they fixated on professional golfer Tiger Woods' car accident and the rumors surrounding the crash at least 37 times.

And ABC, CBS and NBC had even more trivial stories to discuss during that time than Woods. Somehow the networks considered a sea lion glut in San Francisco, Pete the orphaned Moose, the color of tablecloths at the state dinner, Great White shark vs. Killer Whale, a baby panda and the Sonoma, Calif. crush of grapes. All were more worthy of reporting than a scandal that prompted one U.S. senator to call for an investigation.

Sen. James Inhofe, R-Okla., said on Washington Times Radio Nov. 23 that "Since Barbara Boxer is the chairman and I'm the ranking member on Environment and Public Works, if nothing happens in the next seven days, when we go back into session a week from today that would change this situation, I will call for an investigation because this thing is serious."

The three broadcast networks ignored ClimateGate even in reports about the upcoming climate change conference. On Nov. 25, all three evening newscasts mentioned Obama would be going to Copenhagen. NBC's Brian Williams called global warming "one of the biggest issues facing the planet," But didn't say a word about the hacked emails or possibly manipulated data that laid the foundation for emissions reductions.

But just one day earlier, CBS's Declan McCullagh reported on CBSNews.com that Congress might investigate "whether prominent scientists who are advocates of global warming theories misrepresented the truth about climate change." McCullagh's lengthy story detailed the e-mail leak and reactions to it from both warming advocates and skeptics.

ABCNews.com waited until Nov. 28 to do an original report on the leaked e-mails on its Web site.

Scientists implicated...

The e-mails (which can be viewed and searched online) appear to show unethical and potentially illegal behavior on the part of prominent scientists (many of whom are involved in the UN IPCC process).

Here are just a couple of the most embarrassing e-mails that can speak for themselves:

From Kevin Trenberth to Michael Mann and others including James Hansen and Michael Oppenheimer in Oct. 2009:

"The fact is that we can't account for the lack of warming at the moment and it is a travesty that we can't. The CERES data published in the August BAMS 09 supplement on 2008 shows there should be even more warming: but the data are surely wrong. Our observing system is inadequate."

From Jones to Raymond Bradley, Malcolm Hughes and Michael Mann on Feb. 21, 2005:

"PS: I'm getting hassled by a couple of people to release the CRU station temperature data. Don't any of you three tell anybody that the UK has a Freedom of Information Act!"

A May 2009 e-mail from Jones allegedly told Mann to delete e-mails regarding the Fourth IPCC draft and said Keith and Caspar would also delete the correspondence.

One scientist featured prominently in many of the CRU e-mails was Mann, whose research has long been scrutinized by other scientists. He introduced his hockey stick chart in the 1990s, but it was questioned in 1998 by Willie Soon and Sallie Baliunas of Harvard, according to a February 2005 Wall Street Journal article. In 2003 others, including mathematician Stephen McIntyre and economist Ross McKitrick, also criticized Mann's hockey stick.

The Journal reported at that time that Mann "tried to shut down debate by refusing to disclose the mathematical algorithm by which he arrived at his conclusions."

Mann defended himself in a letter to the Washington Post on Dec. 1, 2009 saying "some have engaged in a smear campaign." "They have stolen thousands of scientists' personal e-mails, including some of mine, and have mined the e-mails for words or phrases whose meaning can easily be distorted," Mann continued.

Iain Murray, a senior fellow at CEI, explained why the e-mails were so important and the three things everyone should know about ClimateGate.

"This may seem obscure, but the science involved is being used to justify the diversion of literally trillions of dollars of the world's wealth in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by phasing out fossil fuels. The CRU is the Pentagon of global warming science, and these documents are its Pentagon Papers," Murray wrote.

Murray said the three vital things the documents indicated were that "the scientists discuss manipulating data to get their preferred results," talked about "subverting the scientific peer review process" to prevent skeptics from being published, and worked to prevent disclosure of the information.

But the leaked e-mails were only the tip of the iceberg. According to The London Times online, scientists at the University of East Anglia "admitted throwing away much of the raw temperature data on which their predictions of global warming are based."

That article described CRU as "the world's leading centre for reconstructing past climate and temperatures," and quoted Roger Pielke, an environmental studies professor from Colorado University.

"The CRU is basically saying, 'Trust us.' So much for settling questions and resolving debates with science," Pielke said.

Networks promote global warming, censor skepticism

Sadly, the willingness of the networks to capitulate to the global warming agenda and ignore other voices is not a recent phenomenon.

The Business & Media Institute has reported for years the way in which the news media have latched on to climate scares in the past 100 years (cooling, warming, cooling and now warming again). From ice age threats in the late 1800s to the warming in the 1920s, before returning to cooling fears again in the 1970s, print media encouraged fears of climate apocalypse.

But even more worrisome is the way the network news media have stifled debate on the issue of climate change. BMI released a Special Report in 2008 that found global warming skeptics rarely get any say on the networks, and when they do barbs like "cynics" or "deniers" are often thrown in to undermine them.

On the networks, man-made global warming proponents overwhelmingly outnumber those with dissenting opinions. During the 2007 study window, there was an average of 13 global warming advocates for each skeptic featured. CBS had the worst ratio: 38-to-1. That report also found that the networks frequently omit the cost of so-called solutions to global warming.

In 2009, BMI found that the networks remained silent as House committee passed a cap-and-trade bill out of committee. That bill, known as Waxman-Markey, could cost $9.6 trillion in GDP loss by 2035, according to one estimate. Meanwhile, the networks ignored the bill and almost never explained what cap-and-trade meant.

Ignoring the ClimateGate scandal is just the latest in a long line of poor reporting on climate issues by the network news media. Marc Morano of ClimateDepot.com told the Business & Media Institute that the fact that the networks aren't covering the story is actually "great news for the truth."

Morano explained that the networks are making the "classic mistake" of thinking if they ignore the story it will go away, but talk radio and the internet are getting the information out to the public without spin from the networks which he said are "heavily invested in manmade global warming."

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The Business & Media Institute is a division of the Media Research Center, a nonprofit watchdog organization that strives to bring balance and responsibility to the media. 

 

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