We already know that Fox News viewers are much more likely to be misinformed about the science of climate change. Now, a new study from Media Matters (h/t Kate Sheppard) provides some numbers about the kind of biased coverage that produces this type of result.
Media Matters didn’t look directly at scientific statements–instead they looked at the number of guests, across TV news, who were either for or against EPA regulation of greenhouse gases. Still, presuming that the anti-regulation guests also made misleading scientific statements (no big assumption, given the way this debate tends to go), the result is closely related. And even if they did not, the strong bias with respect to policy vies hints at the likely bias with respect to science:
Media Matters analyzed television news guests who discussed the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from December 2009 through April 2011. Driven largely by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, results show that in 76 percent of those appearances, the guest was opposed to EPA regulations while 18 percent were in favor.
Drilling down on Fox in particular:
81% Of Fox Guests And 83% of Fox Business Guests Opposed GHG Regulation. Fox News hosted 52 guests who criticized the EPA’s decision to regulate greenhouse gases. In that same period they featured only 10 supporters and two guests who took a neutral stance. Fox Business hosted opponents 65 times, compared to seven appearances by supporters. MSNBC hosted four times more supporters of EPA’s action than opponents, but had far fewer guests commenting on the issue than did Fox.
Fox swayed the total so much because the other channels studied were less likely to feature opinionated guests.
Full study here.
If you haven’t yet heard my Point of Inquiry podcast with Michael Mann–probably the most popular show I have done so far–I encourage you to listen here. In it are refuted numerous false claims about Mann with regard to the so-called “ClimateGate” fiasco.
I bring this up because some people never tire of the same old routine, and so there is yet another round of attacks on Mann afoot, courtesy of usual suspects like Fox News, Steven Milloy, etc. Once again, the fact is that Mann’s employer, Penn State University, vindicated him on numerous charges relating to “ClimateGate”–although one aspect of that investigation currently continues.
This weekend, Fox News had a “debate” over global warming between Senate denier James Inhofe and Dem Ed Markey, chair of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. The question: Does global warming actually exist?
This is of course not really a debate, but biased coverage that undermines what we know by suggesting there is really an open question here. Think Progress has more, including this stunning exchange between host Chris Wallace and Inhofe:
WALLACE: The fact is, just this week, the world meteorological organization said that this decade is the warmest on record, and that 2009 is the 5th warmest year on record. Does that mean nothing?
INHOFE: It means very little. Because that was based on the same flawed science — the IPCC science — that we have been looking at.
Yup–for Inhofe, it’s all a vast conspiracy and it all centers on the IPCC. Even though the IPCC only assesses the science every 5 years, and certainly hasn’t assessed the temperature record between, um, its assessments….