Nets Treat EPA Report Change as Scandal, CNN Sees Flat-Earthers --6/20/2003
2. CNBC's Sawyer Questions Assumption of Liberal Environmentalist
3. "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," Perplexed by Bush's Popularity
The New York Times speaks and ABC, CBS, CNBC, CNN and NBC jump, treating the changing of a sentence in an upcoming EPA report, which few ever heard of and fewer ever would have read, as a major scandal worthy of full stories on their Thursday evening newscasts, pieces which assumed the liberal environmental stand on global warming is sacrosanct and only those who challenge it are playing politics.
The networks were so sycophantic to the New York Times that the sole anti-Bush soundbite source featured by ABC, CBS, CNBC and NBC was from Jeremy Symons of the National Wildlife Federation, the very same critic highlighted in the Times story. The Times story relayed: "'Political staff are becoming increasingly bold in forcing agency officials to endorse junk science,' said Jeremy Symons, a climate policy expert at the National Wildlife Federation. 'This is like the White House directing the secretary of labor to alter unemployment data to paint a rosy economic picture.'" For the Times screed in the guise of a news story in full: www.nytimes.com
Only CNN managed to find a different left-wing, though naturally not labeled as so, environmentalist to attack the Bush administration.
The Times story set off a round of condemnatory network stories about how a sentence which read, "climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment," was replaced by, "the complexity of the earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change and diagnose causes."
The latter is a perfectly reasonable synopsis given the disagreements in the scientific community, but the network stories assumed any diversion from the liberal environmental mantra was in itself scandalous.
CNN's Aaron Brown ridiculously compared the Bush administration doubting global warming is fueled by industrialization to naive politicians of centuries ago who castigated Galileo for saying the Earth was round and not flat. If anything, the analogy could be applied in reverse, with modern environmentalists and their toadying media followers the equivalent of flat-Earthers with the Bush administration and conservatives willing to challenge the establishment orthodoxy. Brown haughtily intoned on the June 19 NewsNight:
[Web Update: Brown confused his early scientists. Galileo, who was born in 1564, long after Columbus sailed to the New World, did not proclaim the Earth round. Galileo was convicted of heresy by the Catholic church for his finding that the Earth rotates around the sun, not the other way around.]
In fact, as cited later in this item, plenty of climatologists doubt the liberal environmental beliefs about global warning's impact, cause and degree.
But other than CNBC anchor Forrest Sawyer questioning an environmentalist during an interview (see item #2 below), none of that subtlety made it into any of the hyperbolic network stories which assumed liberal environmentalists were correct, failed to feature a single non-liberal activist scientist and only tossed in a brief mention of how EPA Administrator Christie Todd Whitman denied politics motivated the changes to the report.
Barry Serafin intoned on ABC's World News Tonight: "Environmentalists are angry about what they regard as science pushed aside by politics. A number of studies have concluded that global warming is increasing and can be partly attributed to emissions from smokestacks and tail pipes."
CBS's Dan Rather announced: "President Bush has been criticized at home and abroad for pulling out of the international treaty to curb global warming, the Kyoto Treaty. Now, CBS's John Roberts reports, conservationists, environmentalists and some others are taking the President to task for what they say was the cynical changing of a major report on global warming. They say it was altered to put hardball partisan politics over hard independent science."
John Roberts began, over video of a couple dozen people with tape over mouths: "Gagged and angry, environmentalists today denounced the Bush administration for censoring the scientific evidence on global warming."
Over on the NBC Nightly News, Tom Brokaw warned: "Taken out were sections dealing with the implications of climate change. The Bush administration claims they didn't contain sound science. All of this is raising questions on Capitol Hill for a White House that's already been criticized for bailing out of the Kyoto global warming treaty."
No mention by either CBS or NBC of how not even a single U.S. Senator of either party would have voted to ratify Kyoto which the Senate, during the Clinton years, wouldn't even take up.
NBC's David Gregory contended: "The flap over this new report gives new ammunition to administration critics, both here and abroad, who contend the President has ignored the threat of global warming to appease corporate polluters opposed to more environmental regulation."
Now, a full rundown of the hyperbolic ABC, CBS, NBC and CNN stories, in that order, from the evening of Thursday, June 19, as taken down by MRC analyst Brad Wilmouth:
-- ABC's World News Tonight. Anchor Peter Jennings asserted: "To Washington again. The Environmental Protection Agency said today that the White House has edited a major report on the environment just before it is to be published. The EPA says a section about the dangers of global warming was changed so drastically that virtually nothing will be said about climate change when the report is published next week. Here's ABC's Barry Serafin."
Serafin began, over video of a few people with tape over their mouths walking in a circle: "Environmentalists are angry about what they regard as science pushed aside by politics. A number of studies have concluded that global warming is increasing and can be partly attributed to emissions from smokestacks and tail pipes. The original draft of the EPA report obtained by ABC News devoted several pages to those studies and other information about global warming. Now those pages are gone. An internal EPA staff memo written in April says, 'The White House has made major edits to the climate change section of the EPA report.' And it says, 'The report no longer accurately represents the scientific consensus on climate change.' For example, the opening line saying, 'Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment,' was crossed out, replaced by language suggesting far less certainty, saying it is 'a scientific challenge to document change.'"
-- CBS Evening News. Anchor Dan Rather charged: "President Bush has been criticized at home and abroad for pulling out of the international treaty to curb global warming, the Kyoto Treaty. Now, CBS's John Roberts reports, conservationists, environmentalists and some others are taking the President to task for what they say was the cynical changing of a major report on global warming. They say it was altered to put hardball partisan politics over hard independent science."
Roberts began, over video of a couple dozen people with tape over mouths: "Gagged and angry, environmentalists today denounced the Bush administration for censoring the scientific evidence on global warming. At issue is next week's huge government report on the state of environment. Under heavy editing pressure from the White House, a lengthy chapter on climate change has been gutted. In a draft of the report obtained by CBS News, strong language that 'climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment' was stricken by the White House as was government research that suggests recent climate change is 'likely mostly due to human activities.'"
-- NBC Nightly News. Anchor Tom Brokaw maintained: "Back in Washington tonight, another environmental controversy involving the White House. A report on the state of the environment, set to be released by the EPA, it turns out that the section on global warming was heavily edited. Taken out were sections dealing with the implications of climate change. The Bush administration claims they didn't contain sound science. All of this is raising questions on Capitol Hill for a White House that's already been criticized for bailing out of the Kyoto global warming treaty. Here's NBC's David Gregory."
Gregory began: "In the report due out next week, the White House watered down key sections dealing with the threat of global warming. Early drafts of the report, first uncovered by the New York Times and also obtained by NBC News, show one key line was deleted: 'Climate change has global consequences for human health and the environment,' was replaced by, 'The complexity of the earth system and the interconnections among its components make it a scientific challenge to document change and diagnose causes.'"
-- CNN's Live from the Headlines at 7pm EDT and NewsNight at 10pm EDT ran nearly identical stories by Chris Burns. Live from the Headlines anchor Anderson Cooper set it up by reminding viewers of charges about how the Bush administration "misled" the public on Iraq's WMD:
A few hours later on NewsNight, as quoted earlier, Aaron Brown pontificated: "Once upon a time a scientist named Galileo said the Earth was round and the political leaders of the time said 'no, no Galileo it's flat.' And Galileo got life under house arrest for his little theory. Today, the vast majority of scientists will tell you the Earth is getting warmer and most would agree that industry is at least in part to blame. So far nobody's gone to jail for saying that, which doesn't mean the idea isn't squarely at the center of a political dust up -- and not an insignificant one at that because if the charges leveled against the White House are true, an important environmental question is being twisted or ignored for the sake of politics."
White House reporter Chris Burns began: "It's a battle long fought between the Bush administration and environmentalists over the dangers of global warming and the greenhouse emissions linked to it. The White House acknowledges it asked revisions in a report to be released Monday by the Environmental Protection Agency. Leaked to the media, they're revisions that critics say down play the threat to humans as well as the ecology."
-- The scientific community does not reflect the consensus the distorted network stories assumed. Some examples of counter-information the networks suppressed in their gleeful recitation of liberal environmental gospel:
* From "The Environmental Source 2002," published in September of last year, by Angela Logomasini and David Riggs, PhD of the Competitive Enterprise Institute. An excerpt:
Myth: The Last Century Was the Warmest in a Millennium
The [UN's] Third Assessment Report's Working Group 1 Summary includes a graph that shows nearly stable global mean temperatures for the first 900 years of the past millennium and then a sharp increase in temperature during the 20th century. This "hockey stick" graph is the basis of the frequent claim that the last century was the warmest in the past thousand years.
This assertion is based on only one scientific article that compiled and analyzed only one set of tree rings out of the numerous paleo-climate data sets available. A wealth of research beginning with the father of modern climatology, Hubert H. Lamb, indicates that the Medieval Warm Period (from around 800 to 1200) was global and that global mean temperatures were higher than during the 20th century. The hockey stick also fails to show the Little Ice Age from around 1300 to 1850. Much research suggests that the Little Ice Age was the coldest period since the end of the last Ice Age 11,000 years ago. These errors in the hockey stick graph undermine the credibility of the claim that the 20th century was the warmest in the past millennium....
Myth: Humans Are Key Cause of Warming
The [UN's] IPCC Summary observes that the global mean temperature increased by three-tenths of one degree Celsius in the second half of the 20th century, and then it claims: "There is new and stronger evidence that most of the warming observed over the last 50 years is attributed to human activities. This claim is contradicted by a report published in 2000 by the National Research Council (NRC) on Reconciling Observations on Global Temperature Change. The NRC's special committee concluded that surface temperature data showing a three-tenths of a degree Celsius rise in the global mean temperature since 1975 was accurate, but so too was the satellite temperature record compiled by scientists John Christy and Roy Spencer. Their satellite measurements show no significant increase in global mean temperature from 1979 to the present. Satellites measure temperatures in the lower troposphere. According to global warming theory, an increase in the greenhouse effect will first raise temperatures in the atmosphere, which will then warm the earth's surface. Therefore, the observed surface warming during the second half of the 20th century cannot plausibly be attributed to increasing greenhouse concentrations.
END of Excerpt
A PDF of the lengthy report is online. For the global warming section: www.cei.org
* As for scientific consensus that fossil fuels and not natural cycles are behind global temperature changes, see the 1997 "Leipzig Declaration on Global Climate Change" signed by hundreds of scientists who disagreed with the premises of Kyoto. An excerpt:
As independent scientists concerned with atmospheric and climate problems, we -- along with many of our fellow citizens -- are apprehensive about emission targets and timetables adopted at the Climate Conference held in Kyoto, Japan, in December 1997. This gathering of politicians from some 160 signatory nations aims to impose on citizens of the industrialized nations, -- but not on others -- a system of global environmental regulations that include quotas and punitive taxes on energy fuels to force substantial cuts in energy use within 10 years, with further cuts to follow....
[W]e consider the scientific basis of the 1992 Global Climate Treaty to be flawed and its goal to be unrealistic. The policies to implement the Treaty are, as of now, based solely on unproven scientific theories, imperfect computer models -- and the unsupported assumption that catastrophic global warming follows from an increase in greenhouse gases, requiring immediate action. We do not agree. We believe that the dire predictions of a future warming have not been validated by the historic climate record, which appears to be dominated by natural fluctuations, showing both warming and cooling. These predictions are based on nothing more than theoretical models and cannot be relied on to construct far-reaching policies.
As the debate unfolds, it has become increasingly clear that -- contrary to the conventional wisdom -- there does not exist today a general scientific consensus about the importance of greenhouse warming from rising levels of carbon dioxide. In fact, most climate specialists now agree that actual observations from both weather satellites and balloon-borne radiosondes show no current warming whatsoever -- in direct contradiction to computer model results....
END of Excerpt
The Science and Environmental Policy Project posted the above at: www.sepp.org
For the list of signatories: www.sepp.org
* The Cato Institute's Patrick Michaels took on the media's bias in a December op-ed. An excerpt:
"We Report, You Decide," FoxNews' catchy slogan, definitely isn't the way the mainstream papers report on global climate change. Two recent examples demonstrate their egregious lack of rigor (or dare we say purposeful lack of balance) surrounding this important issue.
Is climate change getting worse? On Dec. 12, Usha Lee McFarling wrote in the Los Angeles Times that "groups that are concerned about climate change point out that the rate of warming is steeply increasing," something which would (and perhaps should) alarm every reader.
Her source? Lester Brown, author of about 25 consecutive annual "State of the World" reports about how ecological doom is at hand. (After a quarter-century don't you think even the greenest pressie might catch on to the scam)?
Quoting Brown, McFarling wrote, "Studying these annual temperature data, one gets the unmistakable feeling that the temperature is rising and that the rise is gaining momentum."...
Is there an accelerating warming trend in recent decades? Absolutely not.
Most scientists believe the earth's surface temperature turned a corner sometime in the mid- or late 1970s when a three-decade period of global cooling ended abruptly and a warming began. In fact, there's a California-discovered peculiarity, known as "the great Pacific climate shift" of 1976-77, which seems to initiate the current climate era. So let's start an analysis in 1977, or a quarter-century ago.
My research director, Chip Knappenberger, calculated the rate of warming for the first five years (1977-82), and then added successive years, all the way up to 1977-2002 (making some modest assumptions about the last two weeks of the current year). If the L.A. Times and Lester Brown were right -- and if the latter had really "studied" the data instead of relying on "feelings" -- he would have found no significant trend whatsoever in the rate of warming in the last quarter century....
It would be convenient to blame this all on idealogues, but unfortunately it is often the scientific community itself that is less than candid. On Dec. 8, both the L.A. Times and the N.Y. Times carried a story headlined "Arctic Ice is Melting at Record Level, Scientists Say." The N.Y. Times actually contradicted itself in the first sentence, which read, "The melting of Greenland glaciers and Arctic Ocean sea ice this past summer reached levels not seen in decades." Some record.
All of this came out of the December meeting of the American Geophysical Union (AGU) in San Francisco, from a paper that examined satellite records of arctic ice back to 1978. The selfsame AGU, in its premier journal, EOS, on Nov. 18, ran an article by Igor Polyakov that examined arctic ice and temperature back to 1878, a record some 100 years longer than the satellite data. Discussing ice extent, Polyakov wrote, "long-term trends are small and generally statistically insignificant," and that "the high latitude temperature increase was stronger in the late 1930s to the early 1940s," long before the initiation of much human warming. The warmest Arctic year was 1938, some 64 years ago.
None of this was noted in any press contact with the AGU. So it's not just the media. But surely some science editor at either newspaper had to be aware of Polyakov's article. And if they weren't, why are they science editors at papers of such stature?
END of Excerpt
For the column in full: www.cato.org
* Other good sources for the kind of perspectives the New York Times and the networks pretend don't exist:
# TechCentralStation.com's environmental section: www.techcentralstation.com
CNBC's The News with Brian Williams ran the same skewed David Gregory story from the NBC Nightly News quoted in item #1 above, about how "the flap over" the Bush administration daring to doubt the liberal environmental line on global warming, "gives new ammunition to administration critics, both here and abroad, who contend the President has ignored the threat of global warming to appease corporate polluters opposed to more environmental regulation."
But substitute anchor Forrest Sawyer, the MRC's Brad Wilmouth noticed, went where Brian Williams never would have: After Gregory's piece aired, Sawyer pressed a liberal environmentalist about his assumptions.
-- "The White House, as you heard David say, suggests that you really need to be careful about what you say here, and the reason you have to do that is because there is nothing definitive about what we know that what is going to happen to the environment. Therefore, we have to be clear, we have to say that we don't know it definitively."
-- "But Jon, you know that this is a huge system, this planetary climatological system is enormous. And you know that there are some scientists who say we can't be certain exactly what causes it, it might even be methane from cows, for heaven's sake. So therefore you have to be a little bit careful about your language."
-- "And you obviously believe that the White House is playing fast and loose with this information. Now, why do you think they're doing that?"
-- "Well, Jon, you clearly believe that the White House is very smart and savvy when it comes to politics, yes? ... So why not, if they were entirely political about their goal, simply leave this language in? It probably wouldn't have gotten noticed by too many people. It wouldn't have been front page news, and they could have just driven on."
-- "You heard David Gregory ask Governor Whitman, 'Is this a political document or is it a scientific document?' And she, who has, who has crossed swords with the White House a few times, says it is absolutely a scientific document, and when you have the opportunity to look over it, you will see solid science in there. Shouldn't you wait until you see it before you start complaining too loudly?"
-- "But Jon, Jon, follow my question. Shouldn't you see the entire document before you complain too loudly?"
A very good question for all of the network producers and reporters.
The tenth and final installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," quotes drawn from actor Sean Penn's 4,000-plus word ad which filled a full page of the May 30 New York Times.
As noted in the June 4 CyberAlert, it's impossible to sum up Penn's diatribe, so I'll defer to Tony Snow, who in his end of the show "Final Thoughts" on the June 1 Fox News Sunday, offered this apt description of the screed: "It throbs with loopy desperation, as if he were trying to persuade authorities that aliens from Alpha Centauri had instructed him to scale a TV tower, put on a hat made of foil and await lightning. You know the old theory that a chimp, given enough time in front of a typewriter, would pound out the Gettysburg Address? Well, this is a simian rough draft."
Links below to the earlier installments.
Today, the tenth installment of "Penn's Pugnacity of the Day," culled from the 27th, 28th and 29th paragraphs, the last three:
It is May 2, 2003 -- a grey day in Northern California. My now 12-year-old daughter is on the phone in our kitchen organizing a movie-going troupe of friends for a Friday evening show. "Is CHICAGO still playing?" They want a second viewing. They want song. And they want dance. My son is outside skateboarding (perhaps dreaming of the girl in the front of the class). President George W. Bush was having his back slapped on the aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln yesterday. He seemed quite pleased with this, his military service. He likes it better now than he did when he was a member of the Texas National Guard, when in 1972, he simply failed to show up for duty for over a year in wartime. I certainly wouldn't want to remind him that were he AWOL in a time of war, it would amount to treasonous desertion. Yet, beside him, in his self-satisfaction, much of our country, losing jobs, and increasing debt, is portrayed as being quite pleased with him, too. And why not? This his debutante ball, isn't it? This young man of privilege, who never had the curiosity to set foot outside our country before becoming our President, was dressed in his "top gun" jumper, flown in, onto the flight deck of the Lincoln. I didn't need a second viewing of this one. Tom Cruise was fine by me. Like my daughter and her friends, I'm in the mood for a little song and dance, too. But while we sing and while we dance, can it be a song of hope? Can we share a drink among friends and be responsible enough not to drive home, killing the child of another with a recklessly driven car? Can we consider United States' policy internationally? Can we consider that the Afghans, Iraqis, Africans, so many, and yes, even here in America need food, water, medicine, hope and sweet dreams? That entire cultures are disintegrating and will be gone in our childrens' lifetime. That the millions of people in need who make up so much of the world, where we stand as the greatest Democracy in its history, leave us to dance with them in our hearts and minds, or, to dance upon them, their graves and those of their children.
We are being told that the needs of these people and nations are being met. We are being told that our principles and our nation's rewards are being preserved and won for our people. We have been told many things. But if we do not participate in an educated democracy, we participate in its demise. We all have different means. Be a letter to a congressman, charity support, or a piece in the New York Times. But whatever our means, and imagination, we must speak. We must question. We must value ourselves, our integrity, our families, our hearts, and the country my father and so many others served. And soon, we must do one more thing...we must vote.
Dad, can you drive us to the movies?" Duty calls.
END of Excerpt
For a picture of Penn and a rundown of his movie roles, check the Internet Movie Database's page on him: us.imdb.com
That's it. We've made it to the end of the ad text. No more Sean Penn to kick around anymore. At least until he speaks or writes again.
-- Brent Baker