Global Warming: Time for the Media to Stop Falling Into the "Balance" Trap

Journalism isn't supposed to find balance, it's supposed to find the truth and then convey it to the American public. But when it comes to global warming, the media keep falling into the same old trap, set by polluting industries, of giving equal weight to the opinions of a handful of industry shills masquerading as "skeptics." This obsession with the appearance of balance is robbing the American people of the facts about this looming crisis. Because of Katrina and Rita, the major news shows are finally talking about global warming's impact on hurricanes, but these reports invariably hand a megaphone to one of the aberrant, industry-funded scientists whose only job is to raise false challenges against the enormity of scientific evidence on the other side. Just this Friday the New York Times ran a story with the headline, "So Who Is Right in Debate on Role of Global Warming?" As if there was still a question. What's next, "So Who Is Right in Debate on Roundness of Earth?"? This past week on CNN, Wolf Blitzer apparently couldn't book a global warming rent-a-skeptic, so he used some tricky editing to turn Bill Clinton into one. The former president recently said, "While global warming doesn't cause hurricanes, it does affect the ferocity of them." But when Blitzer, during an interview with Ted Turner, played the Clinton quote, he only aired "global warming doesn't cause hurricanes" -- a complete distortion of what he meant. What's more, a recent report by Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting found that 53% of the articles the organization sampled on global warming gave roughly equal attention to the opinions of the global warming skeptics as to the consensus views of the scientific community -- equating a peer-reviewed study representing the thorough investigation of the top experts in the field with the rantings of an industry hack with no published work to back up his or her opinion.

The media need to drop this "on the one hand... on the other" charade and simply report the truth: The debate is over. The globe is warming. And humans are causing it.