NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


December 16, 2004

Skeptics of global warming are getting short shrift in the media, according to a study by the Media Research Center's Free Market Project.

The study examined 165 news stories pertaining to global warming issues and among three broadcast networks and two cable networks (Fox News and CNN) between January 21, 2001, and September 30, 2004. According to the researchers:

  • Global warming was attributed to human activity in 55 percent of news stories, although such blame is still debated by scientists.
  • CNN and Fox news presented the most balanced coverage of all the networks in the study when addressing the Kyoto treaty; with 50 percent of their stories including the opposing view.
  • NBC provided the most unbalanced coverage of global warming, airing 10 "pro-Kyoto" stories for every opposing view.
  • Only one story out of the 165 highlighted the estimated staggering cost of the Kyoto treaty ($440 billion annually).
  • About one-third of the news stories examined blamed President Bush for blocking the Kyoto treaty, while only one story (Fox News) mentioned the unanimous Senate opposition against the treaty back in the Clinton administration.

Furthermore, only 9 percent of the news stories analyzed by the researchers addressed the fact that the cause and magnitude of global warming are still debated by the scientific community.

Finally, the researchers noted that the news media is often skeptical of big business sources, but rarely asks tough questions regarding the agenda of environmental groups featured in their stories. Indeed, one CBS news story quoted David Hawkins of the Natural Resources Defense Council, but the reporter failed to mention that the NRDC is a liberal, anti-Bush group with potential biases of their own.

Source: Report, "Destroying America to Save the World: TV's Global Warming Coverage Hides Cost of Kyoto Treaty," Media Research Center, November 9, 2004.


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