Journalism’s Contribution to the Rise of Climate Alarm

Guest Opinion by H. Sterling Burnett

As respect for journalists and their trustworthiness declines, mainstream media outlets, both print and television, are losing readers, subscribers, and viewers. By any measure, journalists aren’t trusted. In public opinion polls, the only professions consistently falling below journalists on their trustworthiness or ethical standards are politicians and used-car salespeople.

This doesn’t surprise me. For more than 20 years I’ve watched supposedly respected media outlets, with investigative journalists on staff, fail to accurately portray the debate surrounding claims human fossil fuel use is causing catastrophic climate change.

Journalism, until recently revered as the “fourth estate,” is supposed to promote objectivity and facts, with its practitioners serving as watchdogs against government corruption and malfeasance and big moneyed interests who collude with bureaucrats and politicians against the average Joe. Yet on the issue of climate change, the mainstream media long ago abandoned objectivity and their role as watchdog in favor being cheerleaders and promoters of conspiracy theories and ever more powerful, intrusive government.

Mainstream media outlets uncritically parrot and hype the most alarming claims and extreme scenarios, however unlikely, made in every report governments issue saying human-caused “climate extremes” are an “existential threat to humanity.” They report the claims as if they were revealed truths, given to them from on high. Foregoing journalism’s fundamental responsibility—similar to the responsibility scientists have—to question everything, to start from a position of skepticism and investigate the source of the claims, the assumptions built into them, whether they are supported by actual data, and whether other data contradicts them, the media instead proclaims, “Science has spoken. Humans are destroying the earth.”

There is no consensus that catastrophic climate change is happening and humans are causing it. Yet, due to lazy or biased reporters and editors not seeking out contrasting views or voices, and publishers and broadcasters not requiring their operations to maintain standards of fairness and veracity, the mainstream media uncritically presents a climate crisis as settled fact, as certain as that the world is round.

Thousands and indeed tens of thousands of scientists around the world refute all or part the claim there is an anthropogenic climate crisis, yet their voices are seldom heard, because the media is too busy promoting its favored lie to investigate alternative claims. Copious research, including hundreds of peer-reviewed studies and reports, is published each year casting doubts on various assumptions and projections made by the leaders of the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and their fellow travelers deeply embedded in the bowels of government agencies such as NASA and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

To be fair, no paper or any single reporter can cover climate every day, much less read and understand every study that gets published. Yet it is incumbent upon any honest news organization to seek out opposing points of view or countervailing evidence when the issue under discussion is claimed to be so critically important that major changes to public policy and wrenching changes to the economy, government institutions, and individual rights are being proposed to solve a particular problem, in this case the so-called climate crisis. This is where almost all mainstream media outlets fail in their duty. Some have openly foreclosed all debate, publicly announcing as an editorial policy they will no longer seek the views or publish articles from any scholar, no matter how qualified to speak about climate issues, who does not accept as fact humans are causing dangerous climate change.

Other outlets, while less open about their editorial bias, still downplay ongoing, lively debates about the causes, consequences, and possible responses to global warming, by portraying any climate skeptics whose existence they do deign to acknowledge as shills for industry or eccentrics, far outside of mainstream scientific opinion.

If journalists displayed just a modicum of intellectual curiosity, they could easily find peer-reviewed surveys of the literature, hundreds of skeptical studies gathered in a few sites, and letters signed by hundreds of scientists attesting to the falsity of one or more aspects of this three-part claim: the climate is changing and humans are the cause, on the whole the results will be unreservedly bad or catastrophic, and we must end the use of fossil fuels in the near future to prevent the destruction of human civilization and the environment.

The most prominent surveys of the literature are a series of peer-reviewed volumes produced by the Nongovernmental International Panel on Climate Change (NIPCC). Over the past decade, NIPCC has produced six technical reports discussing why the physical science does not support the claim humans are causing dangerous climate change, evidence that more carbon dioxide and a modestly warmer world might actually benefit human society and the environment, and evidence the development and use of fossil fuels, rather than being the bane of humankind’s existence, has instead been a boon for people and the planet.

If a journalist were to visit, the website of the Center for the Study of Carbon Dioxide and Global Change, or, for example, he or she would find summaries of literally thousands of peer-reviewed papers that undermine one or multiple fundamental tenets, assumptions, sources of data, or projections behind the theory that humans are causing catastrophic climate change.

For instance, CO2 Science summarizes thousands of studies and experiments demonstrating increased carbon dioxide and modest warming tends to benefit plants, including staple crops critical to reducing hunger and malnutrition where it still exists around the world. And each year, the No Tricks Zone gathers on a single website hundreds of studies showing nature (including solar activity and large-scale oceanic patterns) is playing a bigger role in climate than human carbon dioxide emissions, and that assertions climate change is causing more or more-severe weather extremes are just not true.

Over the past decade, thousands of scientists have signed letters attesting to the fact claims made that humans are causing climate change are overstated at best and flatly mistaken at worst. Most recently, nearly 90 prominent Italian scientists wrote an open letter to their government, which states, in part,

Carbon dioxide is itself not a pollutant. On the contrary, it is indispensable for life on our planet.
… [T]he anthropogenic origin of global warming is an unproven hypothesis…. On the contrary, the scientific literature has increasingly highlighted the existence of a natural climatic variability that the models are not able to reproduce. This natural variability explains a substantial part of global warming observed since 1850. The anthropogenic responsibility for climate change observed in the last century is therefore unjustifiably exaggerated and catastrophic predictions are not realistic.

This follows an open letter from members of the American Physical Society to its ruling council, objecting to its national policy statement on climate change, which the signatories argued wrongly concluded human greenhouse gas emission were changing the climate. And an open letter, signed by nearly 150 international scientists, to then-UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, stated,

Climate change science is in a period of “negative discovery”—the more we learn about this exceptionally complex and rapidly evolving field the more we realize how little we know. Truly, the science is NOT settled.
Therefore, there is no sound reason to impose expensive and restrictive public policy decisions on the peoples of the Earth without first providing convincing evidence that human activities are causing dangerous climate change beyond that resulting from natural causes.

The godfather of all letters objecting to climate change alarmism, the Oregon Petition Project, circulated by the Oregon Institute for Science and Medicine and signed by more than 31,000 American scientists, including more than 9,000 with doctorates, states,

There is no convincing scientific evidence that human release of carbon dioxide, methane, or other greenhouse gases is causing or will, in the foreseeable future, cause catastrophic heating of the earth’s atmosphere and disruption of the earth’s climate. Moreover, there is substantial scientific evidence that increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide produce many beneficial effects upon the natural plant and animal environments of the earth.

It doesn’t take much effort to discover the truth about climate change. It is this: there exists a lively debate concerning the causes and consequences of ongoing climate change, and there is an even more active discussion and disagreement concerning whether policies like taxes on carbon dioxide, restrictions on fossil-fuel use, or geoengineering options proposed to mitigate or prevent further climate change would be effective or whether they would, in fact, cause more harm than good.

There are two sides to the climate debate, and broadcast, online, and print media should acknowledge this, highlight the debate, and let the informed public decide whether they believe humans are dooming the world through fossil fuel use, and what if anything to do about it, without being harangued, cajoled, or prodded by journalists and talking heads with a socialist agenda.

H. Sterling Burnett, Ph.D. is a Heartland senior fellow on environmental policy and the managing editor of Environment & Climate News.

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July 12, 2019 8:15 pm

A nicely put together summary, and thanks for doing so!

I am still repeatedly bombarded with the “97% of all scientists agree…” drivel, and then asked to “read all the papers” proclaiming such. NONE exist with credible numbers, and even Anderegg et al – perhaps the most cited of the lot, asserts their “compiled researcher list is not comprehensive nor designed to be representative of the entire climate science community…”, admitting that “…Our dataset is not comprehensive of the climate community and therefore does not infer absolute numbers or proportions…”

Celebrate the fact that President Trump sees through the climate drivel, has been properly advised by Princeton’s Professor Will Happer and others, and is acting accordingly!!!

Patrick MJD
Reply to  tomwys
July 12, 2019 9:30 pm

None of the alarmists knows the origin of that “97% of all scientists” quote comes from. It originates from the 2009 AGU Climate Science survey where 10,257 surveys were sent, 3,146 replies received where 77 claimed to be climate scientists and 75 of those said humans were causing it. And I am told by alarmists that that survey is not the source of the 97% of all scientists quote. Has been well and truly misrepresented by the media and believers have fallen for it hook, line and sinker.

July 12, 2019 8:50 pm

All very true but the chances of halting the juggernaut look pretty slim at present.

Reply to  Stephen Wilde
July 12, 2019 11:08 pm

The juggernaut is halting! Yes, the politicians and media are still going nuts, but if you look at actual expenditure and what is happening in terms of real money, it is slowing down.

Indeed, if you look at all the political “commitments” – none of it is costed or even has any specific action. Instead it’s extremely vague commitments to “motherhood and apple pie” … with the clearly false assumption that reducing CO2 is beneficial.

Any politician can vote for a resolution “to be nice”. No politician will ever vote for something specific that will certainly cost their re-election.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
July 13, 2019 6:37 am

“The juggernaut is halting! Yes, the politicians and media are still going nuts, but if you look at actual expenditure and what is happening in terms of real money, it is slowing down.”

I think that is right. The reality that wind and solar are deadends is slowly starting to dawn on the more practical people. The True Believers are still divorced from reality and continue with the CAGW scaremongering.

July 12, 2019 8:51 pm

The corrupt and evil left wing media have been in the business of peddling Marxist propaganda, and cover up for years. I have watched or read any of their garbage for a long time.

John F. Hultquist
Reply to  Rob
July 12, 2019 10:12 pm

Seems you missed a few letters.

Reply to  John F. Hultquist
July 13, 2019 2:06 am


Ah yes. The dreaded spell check strikes again. Just hope it never morphs into driverless cars.

July 12, 2019 9:00 pm

I’m sorry, you are confusing journalism with staying employed. It’s not about ignoring or spinning reality it’s about doing what you are hired and paid to do. Journalists writing about CC catastrophes are total whores …. no apology needed except to those that engage in it for an honest living. Anyone that believes all the CC headlines are derived from anything other than getting printed are naive. It’s not the journalists as they would be just as negative to AGW if they were paid for it. So the real questions is…… who’s paying for it?

Reply to  markl
July 12, 2019 11:13 pm

The main source of the climate garbage is academia. The problem is not that the press are trying to make money in a market where the internet has slashed their funding, but instead it is that academia are filled to the brim with left wing radicals which are totally biasing what is researched and therefore what is sent to the media.

The media bias is merely an echo-box of what they get from academia. And with something like 90% of academics being left-of-centre, and almost certainly more like 97% in climate, … it’s not difficult to see where the bias comes from.

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
July 13, 2019 2:48 am

The main reason for academia pushing the CC story is the need to keep funding flowing in for future employment.
A few years ago the head of one of the leading research stations in the UK said in his talk that if a grant proposal didn’t include the words climate change then wasn’t a hope of getting funding.

Reply to  StephenP
July 13, 2019 4:56 am

There are several reasons for academia’s obsession.
1) It is public sector and the climate cult is far more prevalent in the public sector
2) it is left wing, and the climate cult is more prevalent in the left
3) It is middle class – and again climate cult is more prevalent in those with money (Green voters tend to be AB).
4) Academia are fearful of being thought of as “not knowing” … because they sell themselves as “knowledgeable” … so, they are far more likely to say “we have to explain what is going on” … even when they really have no clue. In contrast, in commerce and engineering, there is an acceptance that cost constraints and the complexity of systems means there is always inherently a lack of information.

And yes, funding also has an impact, but academia would be very biased even if funding were not an issue.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
July 13, 2019 5:34 am

The main problem with many so-called academic studies is that they don’t really study how temps really affect their subject. They find a problem, i.e., population loss, slow growth, etc. and immediately blame it on climate change with no experimental data relating changing temperature to their observations. It is that jump to a conclusion that separate tells you that they are not real scientists.

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
July 13, 2019 12:28 pm

Is this why Teachers’ Pension Funds are invested in large scale renewables? Is it their pay-off?

Randy Wester
Reply to  Sommer
July 14, 2019 5:09 am

They’re also massively invested in nuclear power plants in Ontario. 10gw of clean power, they should start build some CANDU reactors in the flat coal power country out west for when natural gas is no longer cheap.

Gary Pearse
July 12, 2019 9:01 pm

“…broadcasters not requiring their operations to maintain standards of fairness and veracity,…”

Its worse than that! They proactively give their reporters marching orders to smother the viewer with fake news about climate. BBC announced they would no longer be giving sceptics invitations to debate. The Guardian has issued guidelines for hyperbolic verbiage that has to be used…

High Treason
July 12, 2019 9:04 pm

Mainstream media are effectively the propaganda wing of those that wish to financially enslave us. They have been subverted for decades-probably before any of us were born.
We should all be getting suspicious that the opposing viewpoint is almost never aired- a one-sided debate always has a fishy smell to it. Mainstream media are bought and paid for-they risk their jobs if they were to expose the climate scam as possibly the grandest scam in history. Their employers are part of the scam.
ALL readers of WUWT owe it to our fellow humans to educate them as to the treachery of mainstream propaganda and take all they publish as fact to be tainted.

G P Hanner
July 12, 2019 9:04 pm

I had my awakening some thirty years ago. I was teaching a intro finance course that was open to students outside the business admin college. I got all kinds mixed in with business majors, from engineering and math to psychology, journalism, and education.

Over the span of ten years, teaching the course three times a year, I noted that at the end of a semester there was a definite gradation in results. The engineering and math majors always ranked at the top of class; below them, usually, were all the business majors; at the bottom of the list came the psych majors, the education majors, and the journalism majors.

Even then, the journalism majors reflected an attitude the can be summed up as “we already know everything there is to know.”

Joel O’Bryan
Reply to  G P Hanner
July 13, 2019 2:27 am

seen that too. A Replicable observation.

Jim Gorman
Reply to  G P Hanner
July 13, 2019 5:39 am

YES! Politicians and journalists are always experts on everything. One should wonder how that comes to be.

HD Hoese
July 12, 2019 9:19 pm

With long but limited experience, I would suspect car salesman now do more homework than journalists, or even some scientists nowadays. I got thoroughly disciplined in graduate school thinking that I had done enough. There is also the need to do more homework with the morass of literature than back in those days, so more judgement is now required like it used to be buying an old car when they could put the odometer back.

It’s going to be interesting to hear the discussion about the current storm, especially since I used to work where it is crossing, as also Andrew did with more force in 1992, but without the Mississippi River flood. Lots of research got done about Andrew’s crossing. All storms are different.

Joel O'Bryan
July 12, 2019 9:55 pm

Nice essay Sterling.
Mistrust of jounos became a real problem when they were able to be directly compared to lying Democrat President (on things that mattered like Iran nuclear ambitions, energy costs, healthcare) and a fibbing Trump (on things that didn’t matter, like how many people were at his inauguration).

Toay’s journos still think of themselves are guardians of Democracy, but where were they when Obama was destroying it everyday? Silenced by their ideological tribalism, of course.

Fact checking and accountability by most of today’s media is reserved for Republicans, whether it be a Republican president or Congress member.

If the GOP had a US Congresswomen as ignorant and reckless with words as AO-C and her possee (Reps. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., Ayanna Pressley, D-Mass., and Rashida Tlaib, D-Mich.), the NYT, CNN, and WaPo would be excoriating them daily.

No, today’s US media is overwhelmingly Liberal-biased. So biased, they don’t even see it. They can’t see it. Their circle of friends and professional contacts are all liberal Democrats. Minds numbed, drunk on the Koolaid, self-affirming idiots. All of them.

What is funny is when some more sober Progressives like Bill Maher speaks up and gives them the riot act on their stupidity. They listen for about 15 minutes, then they blink, and it’s a new day all forgotten. Back to their Progressive StupidLand where what they think in their head is what they believe is real without venturing beyond their bubble of safety.

John F. Hultquist
July 12, 2019 10:22 pm

Those nasty “ used-car salespeople” and public opinion polls —
they never asked me.

Actually, we buy cars a year or two old, thus used.
We buy from the same man each time and find this a good experience.
We had to quit main media outlets — they are mostly useless and time consuming.
I do check headline stories using web sites, and sometimes even read them.

My serious question is, who will see and read this essay by H. S. Burnett?

July 12, 2019 10:22 pm

“There is no consensus that catastrophic climate change is happening and humans are causing it.”

If you partner up “catastrophic” with “is”, then true, no there have been no catastrophes that can solely be atributed to AGW.

But there is a clear consensus that climate change is happening and humans are causing it. So catastrophe is what most certainly will happen if the climate continues to warm due to anthropogenic emissions.

“There are two sides to the climate debate”
No there aren’t actually that is a false dichotomy. The debate amongst the most well informed is about equilibrium climate sensitivity (ECS) with the consensus falling in the 2-4C range.

Johne Morton
Reply to  Loydo
July 13, 2019 6:22 am

There actually are two sides, and it’s only one side where we find the “doom” consensus. The science is in: temperature change precedes CO2 and CH4 changes, CO2 has a logarithmic IR intercept function, the IR bands CO2 absorbs at are almost saturated, clouds, water vapor, land use etc. are very difficult to model, and the great kicker, temperature and sea level are not responding anywhere like they were predicted to be. The almighty GCM is GIGO.

Reply to  Loydo
July 13, 2019 7:20 am

You have to love how the unhinged delusionals think they can dictate realities, they just declare it and it is. I don’t think anyone really cares what a troll like loydo thinks much less do we care to try and understand you.

Reply to  LdB
July 13, 2019 10:44 am

Well, there´s not much to understand. He is like 12 yrs old with brainwashed mantra.

Reply to  Loydo
July 13, 2019 1:54 pm

1) If it isn’t catastrophic, then there is no need to do anything about it.
2) There is a consensus that the earth has warmed over the last 200 years, there is not and never has been a consensus that humans are responsible for it.
3) The extremely small warming the world has enjoyed over the last 200 years has been 100% beneficial.
4) Any likely warming over the next 100 years is going to be completely beneficial as well.
5) More CO2 in the atmosphere is good for plants and the rest of the biosphere as well.

Reply to  Loydo
July 13, 2019 1:56 pm

All of the recent science puts ECS in the 0.2 to 1.0 range. The only source for your number are the models, models that have been deliberately tuned to create a high number.

Randy Wester
Reply to  Loydo
July 14, 2019 5:25 am

Once we take out the word ‘Catastrophic’ it doesn’t sell toilet paper as well as ‘Measureable’ or ‘statistically significant’.

What is your opinion on the cause of the catastrophic Galveston flood? How does it differ from the New Orleans flood a century later? Couldn’t we have compared the two and looked at the improvements made?

July 12, 2019 10:22 pm

Excellent article, Dr B. I can compare today’s extreme climate propaganda with media coverage of impending nuclear war at the height of the Cold War. I was at school in London during this period and remember occasional sombre warnings of the devastation that a Russian atomic bomb could do, and (ostensibly) sensible precautions that civilians should take. Nothing more – although atomic war was a real and proven threat, the media had plenty of more immediate issues to report, unlike now when every ‘because climate’ hobgoblin, fright and fantasy is trotted out daily by almost every media outlet, including every level of government. No wonder I am hearing reports of children being severely depresssed and even suicidal, induced by the daily barrage of climate alarm to which they are exposed. Is this what the protagonists of CAGW intend? If not, why do they persist?

Reply to  BoyfromTottenham
July 12, 2019 11:36 pm

First, the press are just as biased as they’ve always were. The big difference is that it’s a lot easier to spot that bias with the internet as we can and do see the other side of many issues that the press don’t carry.

Next, the reason the press are carrying so much low-quality rubbish these days, is because people stopped buying and reading newspapers when other cheaper ways of advertising came along with the internet. There was just less money for reporting.

And the real killer, is that these days, the press are always the last to carry any news as anyone on social media hears about any important story long before the press can print it. So, not only is there fewer resources for good quality journalism, but the press are last to the table at almost every important news event.

So, as a simple example, the UK Tories are voting on the next PM. Almost no one in Britain is going to learn about that result through a newspaper, but most people will hear Boris got elected through social media, or through a friend who listens to social media. As a result, most people will have discussed the topic to death even before the journalists start putting finger to keyboard. There strictly is no news content left … the biggest bit of “news” and the journalists are going to struggle to find anything new to say because it’s all already been said on social media. All they can really do is to add their own slant … to write an opinion piece … and given there’s so little funding for good quality journalists … those are seldom better than an unpaid blogger.

Now contrast it with press releases from the climate cult. These greenspin machines are highly organised and well funded PR machines pushing out guaranteed “news” in the form of ready-to-print press releases about impending doom that are guaranteed to grab any reader’s attention and are released as “news” (meaning they don’t get widely read on social media before the press print it).

Any sane editor, who wants their paper to stay afloat, is going to readily accept that “climate porn” as these press releases from private organisations are tailor made only for the press, so are the only real news that many newspapers get and climate porn from the doomsday cult is guaranteed to get people reading.

Dan J. Cody
July 12, 2019 10:31 pm

We’re entering a solar minimum cycle of the sun due to lack of or no sunspots at all for the next decade.Does that mean the USA will have colder winters and cooler summers ahead? Thanks for receiving my Email.Sincerely,Dan Cody(AKA The Weather Geek).

Reply to  Dan J. Cody
July 13, 2019 3:53 am

NOAA is forecasting that SC25 will be comparable to the Dalton Minimum, a period towards the end of the Little Ice Age (LIA) in which anomalously cold weather occurred (e.g., the year without a summer). Valentina Zharkova is predicting a super grand solar minimum from 2020-2055, during which all 4 of the sun’s magnetic fields will go out of phase. During the Maunder Minimum that occurred earlier in the LIA and was weaker than the Dalton only 2 fields went out of phase. Cooler winters and summers overall, probably, but it can also produce prolonged heat extremes because of the unstable jet stream (as I understand it).

Reply to  icisil
July 13, 2019 4:04 am

NASA, not NOAA. sorry…

July 12, 2019 11:03 pm

Yes journalists are biased, no, there never was a “good old days” when they weren’t biased, instead, the idea of this perfect world of unbiased investigative reported was always fake news, it’s just that before the internet the only source we had to compare the press with was other members of the same press.

But it all got a lot worse after the internet because of a collapse in advertising revenue as people started using online sites instead of the high-cost newspaper ads for selling everything from cars to jobs. That then meant there was a lot less money for quality journalists and that meant that “journalism” became a “job” of copy-n-pasting other people’s press releases.

And the things about global warming alarmism, aka climate porn which keep the press printing it are:
1. Readers love it – the more alarmist – the more people keep reading it
2. It’s global – so any idiotic academic anywhere in the world pushing out their latest crazy idea can be published in any snooze-paper worldwide.
3. It comes with the supposed “authority” of academia – so the press don’t need to check it (not that they could)
4. Because the material is by extremely rich Universities – if anyone sued they’d foot the bill
5. And because there are very very very few people willing to sue and those that are are individuals with no money, there is almost no financial risk from printing utter garbage “climate porn”.

So to summarise, climate porn is extremely easy to copy-n-print, guaranteed interest, low risk “filler” when there’s no other news.

Reply to  Mike Haseler (Scottish Sceptic)
July 13, 2019 1:36 am

And, in the UK at least, the universisties have expanded at a prodigious rate, all on a government backed debt bubble called student loans. In Edinburgh, it’s as if every second building is some new university department or student residence. I have a sense that they’re now too big, and thus full of second-rate academics, whose success depends in part on political correctness.
Journalists don’t just cut-n-paste either, they make stuff up too. I had one journalist I know, during a blether at a party, say to me ‘You just think that…’. I pointed out that it was interesting to be told what I thought when up to that point I hadn’t said a word on the subject. Silence.

Reply to  sonofametman
July 13, 2019 5:02 am

Well put, and yes some journalists certainly do make it up. But what became really clear to me when I used to monitor the global news on climate, was that most stories on climate were almost entirely journalists just copy-n-pasting sections from press releases.

The reason: they simply lack any scientific knowledge at all by which they could “make it up”. But yes, there are opinion pieces where they obviously avoid any science and instead just attack anyone who disagrees with them who has the knowledge they lack.

July 13, 2019 12:05 am

‘Journalism, until recently revered as the “fourth estate,” ‘

Revered by whom, and how recently?

In the 1920s, Humbert Wolfe wrote

“You cannot hope to bribe or twist
(thank God!) the British journalist.
But, seeing what the man will do
unbribed, there’s no occasion to.”

Evelyn Waugh’s “Scoop” was published in 1938.

Reply to  RoHa
July 13, 2019 7:08 am

I found this quote attributed to Thomas Jefferson in 1807:

“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”

The more thing change, the more things stay the same. 😉

July 13, 2019 2:05 am

Journalism’s Climate Crusade

In the Real World
July 13, 2019 2:36 am

Good article , but the lack of trust in the media has been about for a lot longer than most people think .

George Orwell , [ Eric Blair ] , wrote the book 1984 in 1949 .
He believed in Socialism until he actually saw it in action . He then wrote Animal Farm about socialism in Russia , and 1984 based upon his time working for the BBC , [ Ministry of truth in the book ] , about how the MSM should not be trusted as they are normally just a propaganda system for whoever is in control of them .

Patrick MJD
Reply to  In the Real World
July 13, 2019 6:04 am

Good reading.

Reply to  In the Real World
July 13, 2019 7:01 am

This might be of interest. I found it on
while looking for a quote that I mistakenly thought Mark Twain had said. I particularly like the last paragraph.

In 1807 statesman Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter complaining about the misinformation in newspapers:
“Nothing can now be believed which is seen in a newspaper. Truth itself becomes suspicious by being put into that polluted vehicle. The real extent of this state of misinformation is known only to those who are in situations to confront facts within their knowledge with the lies of the day.”

Jefferson provocatively suggested the advantages of not reading the newspaper:

“I will add, that the man who never looks into a newspaper is better informed than he who reads them; inasmuch as he who knows nothing is nearer to truth than he whose mind is filled with falsehoods & errors. He who reads nothing will still learn the great facts, and the details are all false.”

Tom Abbott
Reply to  jtom
July 13, 2019 12:28 pm

Well, at least with the internet, we, the peons, get to air our grievances just like Kings and Queens and Dictators and Presidents.

As long as the internet continues to allow free speech, that is. And make no mistake about it, the Authoritarians of the world want to change that just as fast as they can. They don’t want the peons sounding off and challenging them and their delusions of Total Control.

jeremy cogdon
July 13, 2019 2:39 am

I work in recruitment in London. In 2007 what made me sceptical was the amount of PR agencies seeking staff with PR/Environment experience. Now PR agencies basically push stories to the media on behalf of their clients. Newspapers like drama. So you read a science paper the PR agency is always going to push the drama/disaster.

Sadly we have so many people brainwashed about the so called climate catastrophe with a lot of so call facts really over exaggerated opinions or half truths that dont tell the full picture. E.g The wonderful Attenborough talking about the bleaching at the Great Barrier Reef. People need to understand the reef recovers. Although a reputable scientist with integrity in Peter Ridd comes out and tells the truth and is silenced.

Very few journalists investigate or call out climate change instead they just push a story a PR agency feeds them or what is now seeming like religious propaganda that they have been indocrinated with.

This site is wonderful because it breaks up much of the spin put out there.

Tom Abbott
Reply to  jeremy cogdon
July 13, 2019 6:56 am

“This site is wonderful because it breaks up much of the spin put out there.”

Yes, WUWT is invaluable. You can always get the other side of the story here, and get it from experts in the subject matter being discussed.

July 13, 2019 2:50 am

Two points I’d like to make.
First I think journalism died (at least at NBC) when Tim Russert passed away suddenly a decade ago. It got replaced by “tingle up my leg” advocates for a cause. Meet the press became meet my political leanings.
The second thing has been the impact of the 24 hr news cycle with multiple outlets having a lot of air time to fill. The dynamic went from Political types struggling to get air time to talking heads struggling to find guests. Now access to prominent newsmakers has become conditional to how they will be treated on the air. So what used to be news outlet are polarized policy outlets.

July 13, 2019 7:17 am

And yet we still have:

“CO2 price against climate change
German experts have urged new measures to cut heating and transport emissions.”

It’s tragic that politicians are still making expensive policies based on the deception.

David Blenkinsop
July 13, 2019 7:37 am

A really nice, comprehensive summary of the global failure of the generally leftist Main Stream Media, quite an inexcusable failure on this critical issue!

Nothing could be more true than, say, the following comment in the article:

“Mainstream media outlets uncritically parrot and hype the most alarming claims and extreme scenarios, however unlikely, made in every report governments issue saying human-caused “climate extremes” are an “existential threat to humanity.” They report the claims as if they were revealed truths, given to them from on high. Foregoing journalism’s fundamental responsibility .. to question everything, to start from a position of skepticism and investigate the source of the claims, the assumptions built into them .. ”

I think that in this context, special mention could certainly be made of many of the specialist ‘science’ publications — like Scientific American, and National Geographic, as two particularly prominent (and particularly culpable) examples in print media.

Also, in other media here in Canada, the CBC radio weekly science show ‘Quirks and Quarks’, comes to mind straightaway, as it is a bit of a “flagship” for all the other bias that I see in the CBC and in Canadian media in general. When this particular “interview style” science show started way back in the mid 70’s (with David Suzuki as host), little did I know the persistent and obstinate bias that would emerge and continue right to this very day!

Currently, I see some signs that it is getting harder for mainstream “journalists” (so called) to sweep their bias and unfairness under the rug. These days, it seems that people who might never have taken an interest in climate or energy sources before are now questioning the “Chicken Little” stuff that they hear.

So thanks for the summary article! Maybe we even can hammer the alarmists with this a little bit when necessary, in a few years time, say, when they’d rather forget some of the foolishness that they’ve promoted?

July 13, 2019 7:54 am

Watch the film ‘ACE IN THE HOLE’ with Kirk Douglas for a view on reporting.
Good news is no news, bad news is good news.

Hocus Locus
July 13, 2019 11:40 am

Fear! Fire! Foes! Awake!

July 13, 2019 11:47 am

The old adage is that power corrupts. There is truth in it but it is not always true. There is a rule that is always true. Corrupt people seek power. Journalism is corrupt because journalists have power. There is nothing wrong with the institution it is just that it has become filled with people who want the power of political office but don’t want to bother getting elected. It is easier to use the power of the press to influence public policy. The same thing has happened to public education. It’s full of people who want to influence young minds but instead of starting a club or church or political party they get a job as a teacher and get access to young minds not just for free but for pay. Corrupt people always join whatever business or political party or religious institution that they believe will best allow them to exercise their corruption.


David Cage
July 13, 2019 12:09 pm

A quick survey among people I know has dismissed the lack of trust in used car salesmen. While they are nowhere near perfect to bracket them with the media and politicians is insulting and unwarranted. Sure there are a few crooks and charlatans but the majority as just buyers and seller out to make a reasonable profit based on a sound product that will provide a good enough service to get buyers to return for their next vehicle.

Svend Ferdinandsen
July 14, 2019 12:02 pm

The media are partly excused in the climate reporting. Climate scientists can public the most alarming reports, that has a very week scientific base if at all, and yet no other scientists dare to question the conclusions, at least not public.

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