1 Year Later: Media Link Climate Change, Sandy Every Single Time
During the 2008 banking crisis, then-Obama Chief of Staff Rahm Emmanuel famously said, “Never allow a crisis to go to waste.” The broadcast networks certainly followed his advice when reporting on Hurricane Sandy since the storm became a hurricane one year ago, hitting the New Jersey coast on Oct. 29.
Network reporters and experts have repeatedly claimed that the storm was either caused or worsened because of climate change. In fact, 100 percent of the 32 news stories and briefs in the past year that mentioned climate change and Hurricane Sandy claimed global warming directly impacted the storm – even though “no single weather event can be linked directly to a long-term driver, such as global warming,” according to climate change activists.
ABC, CBS and NBC spun the issue even more. Only 6 percent of the stories (2 out of 32 stories) provided another view. No story actually quoted an expert who disagreed. The closest the networks came to providing a “balanced” news story was saying that “whether climate change is to blame for it [Sandy] is the subject of debate,” on the CBS “Evening News,” May 28. In another story, NBC listed climate change as a possible cause: “Blame it on a freak storm, climate change, or both,” said “Today,” on Nov. 3, 2012.
The stories were predictably one-sided. From “Today” interviewing Al Gore to journalists quoting politicians like liberal New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, there was little room for debate on the issue.
Other reports claimed “extreme weather” events like Sandy were becoming more common. The idea that weather is more extreme and varied than any point in history was also uncontested and considered a fact by the networks. On July 4, 2013, “This Morning,” CBS congressional correspondent Nancy Cordes made that case in a conversation with global warming activist and meteorologist Michio Kaku. “As one scientist told us, its not just like global warming, it’s almost like global weirding. All the weather is more extreme,” she argued.
On CBS “This Morning,” Jan. 26, Time senior writer and global warming alarmist, Jeffrey Kluger even had the audacity to call climate change skeptics, “flat earthers” and like “the people who say the moon landings never happened,”
“The latest peer-reviewed studies, data and analyses undermine claims that the weather is more ‘extreme’ or ‘unprecedented,’” according to Marc Morano, publisher of Climate Depot. “They are exploiting any weather event to promote their religious like cause and a storm like Sandy is shamelessly used to gin up fear,” he added.
Experts Say Weather Patterns Are Normal and ‘There Is No Trend In Hurricanes’
There are experts who disagree that weather is more extreme than normal and that man is causing extreme weather events.
Meteorologist Joe Bastardi told Forbes in May that “blaming turbulent weather on global warming is extreme nonsense” and that the current climate changes are part of a normal weather cycle.
For example, the chart used by global warming alarmists like Al Gore in “An Inconvenient Truth” that supposedly shows a period of global warming have long been debunked for faulty methodology.
Bastardi went on to explain:
“First of all, we need to keep in mind that ‘climate’ occurs over at least three-decade periods and on a large scale … Right now we’re seeing the same kind of major events on a regional scale that occurred the last time the Pacific Ocean shifted its temperature phase from warm to cold when the Atlantic was in a warm phase, and globally, the Earth’s temps have fallen about .05C in the last four years.”
Not all scientists agree that Sandy was anything other than a natural disaster either.
Climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama Huntsville, took that view. “Hurricane Sandy was a minimal hurricane. So, it is in no way indicative of arising trends in hurricanes that might be attributed to global warming.” In addition, Colorado State University researchers William Gray and Phil Klotzbach told National Geographic that human activity on the formation and intensity of Atlantic hurricanes “is likely to be negligible.”
While all three networks frequently interviewed or cited global warming activists, not one had a scientist presenting a different viewpoint in the stories linking Sandy to climate change since the storm, even though such scientists clearly exist.
Media Use Sandy Crisis to Promote Climate Change Activism
Not only did the news provide unbalanced coverage, journalists actively championed the cause of global warming, and used Sandy as an example for why climate change “is real” and why we need to “act” sooner than later.
On CBS “This Morning” on Nov. 1, anchor Charlie Rose asked global warming activist and Time editor Bryan Walsh about the storm and its “big lessons.” Walsh responded, “Well, I think there’s – there’s a few. One is that climate change clearly is real. I mean scientists will differ on exactly how much climate change contributes to a storm like this. But what we know is that this will become more and more common in the future that we’ll have stronger storms.”
If reporters didn’t sensationalize, they scolded for not “acting” on the climate. On ABC “World News” Jan. 8, correspondent Dan Harris warned of a future following inaction saying, “Many cities had record warmth, including Washington D.C., where a lack of action on manmade climate change is likely to mean 2012 is just a glimpse into an unpleasant future, according to many scientists.”
The “Green is Universal” network, NBC, was the most outspoken on the issue and sounded more like activists than journalists. On “Today,” April 3, weather anchor Al Roker was incredulous at an NBC poll that showed 37 percent of people did not believe in global warming. Roker said, “But 37 percent said – 37 percent of these people don’t believe in global warming. They think it’s a hoax. I mean – that, uh, okay, two words – Superstorm Sandy.”
Roker found a way to bring in climate change to Hurricane Sandy again on Sept. 24 when interviewing Vice President Joe Biden about government aid through FEMA.
“You guys have been going to these – it seems like with a pretty regular, you know, in the last 18 months, Sandy, Moore, Okla., you name it, Isaac, Irene, now this. Are we looking at the new normal?” Biden replied, “We can’t attribute any one thing to global warming – but there is – there are all of these weather events seem more severe and more pervasive.”
“Scientists” Gore, Bloomberg, and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo were all quoted or interviewed on the news about their “expert opinions” on global warming and its effect on Sandy. In a segment on Sandy on “Today” Nov. 1, 2012, NBC quoted Cuomo as saying, “Anyone who says there’s not a dramatic change in weather patterns I think is denying reality.” Cuomo was cited again by NBC “Nightly News” Nov. 12, 2012, reiterating, “Climate change, extreme weather, call it what you will, it’s undeniable.”
Host Matt Lauer interviewed Gore on “Today” for two segments on Jan. 29, 2013, giving the global warming activist and former vice president a platform to lecture on how manmade global warming was destroying the earth through events like Hurricane Sandy.
“Today is the three-month anniversary of Superstorm Sandy here … These storms, it’s like a nature hike through the Book of Revelation on the news every day now and people are connecting the dots,” Gore told Lauer.
Lauer went on to empathize with Gore, “And you know, after years of – calling people’s attention to this issue and now we’ve seen super storm Sandy and tornadoes and drought and extreme temperatures, do you feel vindicated?” Gore responded, “Well I wish that I had been wrong.”
Bloomberg was cited by NBC in two different segments (Nov. 1 “Nightly News,” Nov. 2 “Today”) in the midst of Hurricane Sandy, for his suggestion that climate change may have been responsible for the storm.
Methodology: The Business and Media Institute analyzed transcripts from morning and evening news shows on ABC, CBS and NBC between Oct. 14, 2012 and Oct. 14, 2013 for stories mentioning Hurricane Sandy and either climate change or global warming.
— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.