Published December 01, 2009
The mainstream media are abandoning objective reporting and acting as full-time advocates for measures to combat global warming, some media watchdogs say, accusing them of pushing for a sweeping international agreement on climate change.
As President Obama prepares to travel to Copenhagen, Denmark, to attend an international conference on climate change scheduled for Dec. 7-18, the media are already "out in front of the administration" in pushing a liberal agenda, says Dan Gainor, vice president for business and culture at the Media Research Center.
"There's no more clear religion in the mainstream media than the religion of global warming," Gainor told FoxNews.com.
"It's gone from being a situation where there was some debate, to now there's almost none," Gainor said. "You can't say anything that even raises the question that there might not be real science here. That's not what journalism is supposed to do."
Obama, who will arrive in Copenhagen on Dec. 18, plans to unveil a 10-year plan to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. by 17 percent below 2005 levels. The president will also take up a 181-page draft treaty proposed by the United Nations that calls on representatives from 170 countries to establish sweeping measures to reduce emissions and combat climate change.
And the mainstream media are hopping aboard the bandwagon, critics say.
"The media already accept the theory of manmade global warming, so their modus operandi will be -- let's come to an agreement on reducing energy, either through taxes or restrictions," Cliff Kincaid, editor for Accuracy in Media, told FoxNews.com.
"The coverage is so one-sided," Kincaid said. "It seems to me the media have an obligation to read the (treaty) and tell us what's in it.
"Many in the media don't want to hear that. If they would bother to read the treaty, they would report that there are numerous proposals for global taxes. I don't think those are going to go over too well with the American people."
But other media watchdogs say journalists are not biased on the issue. They say they are simply representing the facts offered by the majority of the scientific community.
"Journalists are not scientists -- they do not have an extensive background in cutting-edge science," says Jim Naureckas, editor of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting.
"It seems to me that you have to defer to scientists on scientific questions, and get their take on what's going on," Naureckas told FoxNews.com.
"You're dealing with very serious issues here. If one accepts that scientists generally know what they're talking about on the topics they're studying -- then you're dealing with an oncoming global catastrophe.
"It's clear there is a scientific consensus on global warming that is quite compelling," Naureckas said.
But critics say the mainstream journalists are ignoring the other side. Gainor pointed to what he said was the media's inattention to the scandal dubbed "Climate-gate," a series of e-mails made public recently after computer hackers obtained messages from the Climate Research Unit at the University of East Anglia in England.
In some of the e-mails, scientists appear to discuss hiding or deleting data that contradicts global warming claims. Some explicitly admit to hiding data that would indicate a global cooling trend rather than a rise in global temperatures.
"This is a story of global importance, involving potentially enormous scandal. Other than a little bit of print coverage, the mainstream media has made no comment," Gainor told FoxNews.com.
"I would like a genuine, legitimate, scientific inquiry before we spend billions or trillions of dollars," Gainor said.
Dan Amundson, research director for the nonpartisan Center for Media and Public Affairs, says the media have given less coverage to the climate change debate than other heated issues such as health care reform or foreign policy. But he says there seems to be a pattern of support for "some type of international agreement and taking concrete steps about carbon dioxide."
"While global warming critics get more airtime and coverage than environmentalists would like, they are a small part of coverage over the years," Amundson said.
A majority of Americans believe that climate change is occurring and that it is a serious problem, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll from Nov. 25, 2009.