NPR Credibility Meltdown Shows Critical Problem in Mainstream Media Global Warming Bias

The latest revelation of National Public Radio Senior VP Ron Schiller’s statements caught on video leaves little doubt about NPR’s mindset on the reporting of the global warming issue, and this must ultimately lead to a much larger examination about the way the mainstream media has been reporting about global warming.

To understand the enormity of this, consider the two-part mantra that believers of man-caused global warming always repeat – the science is a settled fact / skeptic scientists doubting it are paid by big coal & oil to “reposition global warming as theory rather than fact“. That second part is a deliberately chosen catchphrase made famous by anti-skeptic book author Ross Gelbspan starting in late 1995 – a catchphrase taken out of context by a man improperly credited with being a “Pulitzer winner”, as I detailed in my November 2010 BigJournalism article “How an Enviro-Advocacy Group Propped Up Global Warming in the MSM“. I also noted in links within my article how the PBS NewsHour didn’t invite skeptic scientists on its program to rebut IPCC scientists, and how Gelbspan’s debut of the catchphrase was on a December 1995 NPR radio program.

Just prior to Ron Schiller’s meltdown, Chris Moody at The Daily Caller wrote about NPR CEO Vivian Schiller’s concerns over defunding public broadcasting:

Regarding accusations of liberal bias, which the network have fielded for years, Schiller said the networks merely had a “perception” issue, and not a problem with reporting.

“It’s no question it’s a perception issue. It absolutely is a perception issue.”

She added that NPR was simply “misunderstood.”

This ends up looking like pure unsupported spin. My July 29, 2010 American Thinker article “The Left and Its Talking Points” quantified an IPCC science vs skeptic science discussion ratio of about 200+ to 3 in PBS NewsHour broadcasts going back to 1996. In that same article, I also showed how lines from Ross Gelbspan’s 1997 book appear to be paraphrased as rebuttal by a NewsHour host in a 1997 interview of a skeptic who was the CEO of the Western Fuels Association, a coal company group targeted in Gelbspan’s book. This CEO’s words were the NewsHour‘s longest presentation of the skeptic science side of the issue. Not one skeptic scientist has been given such an opportunity on that program.

So there is some kind of misunderstanding on my part about fair-and-balanced global warming reporting by public broadcasting? I think not.

While Gelbspan was seen on just a couple of PBS TV broadcasts (NOW and Hot Politics), he was on several more NPR radio shows besides the one above: at On Point with Tom Ashbrook, On the Media, and All Things Considered and Talk of the Nation, just to name the ones I’ve found, where little if any opposition is found against Gelbspan’s assertions.

So we come to James O’Keefe’s video of Ron Schiller and his co-worker Betsy Liley. The Washington Times reports about the video transcript:

“This funder said to us, ‘you know you would like us to support your environmental coverage, but we really don’t want to give you money if you’re going to talk to the people who think climate change is not happening,’ ” Ms. Liley recounted.

She continues to say, “It is a complicated thing, though. There’s a political question and there is a scientific question and we were talking to him about supporting the science desk. … Our coverage, if you look at our coverage, you would say that science coverage has accepted that climate change is happening and we’re covering it.

This was followed by Ron Schiller’s quote:

All educated scientists accept that climate change as fact. On the political side, however, where it is not accepted as fact, and the fact that debate is happening is news and it’s really important news. And our point of view requires that we cover that debate, if for no other reason than to have Americans understand there are still people who believe that it is not fact.

Fact / not accepted as fact / fact / not fact‘. For other people, wouldn’t it be more natural to say ‘as a scientific consensus’, or ‘a widely accepted theory’?

Ms Liley’s statements give the impression NPR won’t succumb to a debate over human activity causing global warming, instead indicating their reporting centers on the issue as a forgone conclusion. This is not the least bit different than the way a senior producer at the PBS NewsHour responded to my own inquiry to the PBS Ombudsman asking why skeptic scientists did not appear on their program to rebut IPCC scientists (seen here under “The NewsHour Responds”):

There is a reason many of our stories in the last couple of years have been more focused on developments about what to do about climate change — instead of the debate about the science behind it. …. our coverage reflects this fact: The majority of leading scientists here and abroad say that evidence is pointing to a warming planet; that the problem is getting worse; and that human activity contributes to that problem.

There’s the word ‘fact’ again. However, when I went through an extensive search of NewsHour archives to uncover where the ‘fact’ was established about who the leading scientists were, or who determined what a leading scientist was, or how it was proven that human activity contributes an intolerable amount to the so-called problem, I found no such answers. Repeated pleas to both the NewsHour directly and to the PBS Ombudsman has yielded no results, even as recently as February 11 in the 4th letter here, where I asked how PBS avoids the perception of outright bias on the issue.

This meltdown of NPR is only the tip of the proverbial iceberg. Ron Schiller’s comments about NPR’s mindset on the global warming issue elevate the whole thing to more than just a question of science. We are now owed an explanation about the unmistakable appearance of news reporting being manipulated by enviro-activists, and why the mainstream media never questioned efforts to marginalize skeptic scientists, but instead aligned themselves unquestioningly with the activists.


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