Author Page | Page 3 | Media Matters for America

Max Greenberg

Author ››› Max Greenberg
  • Two Big Climate Stories You Didn't Read About In The New York Times

    Times Skips Stories Soon After Closing Environmental Desk And Green Blog

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    The New York Times failed to cover both a major government report and a scientists' statement indicating that global warming marches on, just months after the paper shuttered both its environment desk and an affiliated blog with the promise that coverage would not significantly change.

    On Monday, the American Geophysical Union (AGU), a scientific organization comprising thousands of earth scientists, published a quadrennial renewal of its position statement affirming that "humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years." One day later, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) released the annual "State of the Climate" report, showing that 2012 was among the 10 warmest years on record worldwide and saw record-low Arctic sea ice extent. NOAA included these charts, illustrating warming of 0.16°C (0.28°F) per decade since 1970 and plummeting Arctic sea ice extent compared to the 1979-2000 average, respectively:

    NOAA: State of The Climate report

    NOAA: State of the Climate report

    The AGU statement garnered mentions by National Public Radio and NBCNews.com, and NOAA's "sobering portrait of vast swaths of the planet transformed by rising temperatures" was covered by the Associated Press, Reuters, Los Angeles Times, Wall Street Journal and CBS, and featured in wire reports in The Washington Post and on the websites of Fox News, NBC and ABC.

    However, you didn't read about either story in The New York Times.

  • Fox Is Suddenly Very Concerned About Turtles

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Source: NOAA

    Fox News devoted two segments to a "sea turtle hospital," representing a change in tone from years of attacking a turtle conservation program. The network has frequently dismissed climate change, which poses a serious threat to turtles and other reptiles.

    In two separate segments Friday, Fox & Friends reported on a North Carolina sea turtle rescue center, which mends loggerhead and green turtles injured by run-ins with boat propellers and other accidents. Fox News reporter Anna Kooiman noted that the turtles are "ambassadors for ocean conservation as a whole." Following footage of a turtle being released into the ocean after a rehab stint, Fox & Friends co-anchor Steve Doocy concluded, "this story has a happy ending."

    Yeah, maybe not. While the center's efforts are admirable, and boat accidents and ocean debris do take a huge toll on sea turtles, these segments, like all Fox News coverage related to turtles over the last five years, ignored a much more systemic danger: climate change.

    At least Fox News was sympathetic this time. Until now, the network's favorite turtle topic has been an allegedly wasteful Florida project designed to help freshwater turtles and other wildlife safely cross U.S. Highway 27 and avert dangerous roadway accidents. Fox News programs commented on the "turtle tunnels" 29 times in the last five years, most often in unabashedly negative terms because they were backed by funds from the 2009 federal stimulus package. The project was finished earlier than some opponents predicted and came in under budget, a fact that Fox News never mentioned.

  • VIDEO: What Ever Happened To The Conservative Defenders Of Energy Research?

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    As House Republicans try to slash funding for research and development of new energy technologies, conservative figures who once proclaimed their support for such initiatives have been curiously silent.

    Buoyed by Republican lawmakers, the House recently passed a spending bill that cuts funding for Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (ARPA-E), the key federal program that invests in research and development of new energy technologies, by 81 percent. ARPA-E is a bipartisan Bush-era creation modeled on the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), which spurred breakthroughs like the internet and stealth fighter. Now, even a midpoint reconciliation with the more generous Senate spending bill could leave funding for the program in tatters.

    These cuts are an extreme departure from the rare interparty comity that has typically surrounded research and development for alternative energy. Indeed, conservative media figures have frequently embraced such efforts -- as opposed to programs that award loans to address the so-called "valley of death" between development and commercialization -- echoing the pro-ARPA-E views of free-market groups and some Republican leaders. Among the latter was former presidential nominee Mitt Romney, who supported increasing funding. But with ARPA-E now in trouble, these figures appear tongue-tied.

  • Reuters Climate Change Coverage Declined Significantly After "Skeptic" Editor Joined

    New Analysis Backs Whistleblower's Claims

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    A Media Matters study finds that Reuters' coverage of climate change declined by nearly 50 percent under the regime of the current managing editor, lending credence to a former reporter's claim that a "climate of fear" has gripped the agency.

    David Fogarty, a former Reuters climate change correspondent, wrote that Managing Editor Paul Ingrassia, then serving as deputy editor-in-chief, identified himself as "a climate change sceptic" in 2012. As time went on, Fogarty alleged, "getting any climate change-themed story published got harder," as some desk editors "agonised" over decisions and allowed articles to become mired in bureaucracy. Eventually, amid a "climate of fear," Fogarty's role was "abolished."

    An earlier report published by The Baron, an independent site that caters to current and former Reuters employees, similarly noted that in recent years the news service has been steered in a "new direction" in its climate change coverage, as evidenced by decreased attention, in-print "skepticism" and the reassignment of regional environment correspondents to other beats.

    Reuters' Climate Coverage Declined 48% After "Skeptic" Editor Took Over

    In line with claims from Fogarty and The Baron, a survey of coverage in the six months immediately prior to Ingrassia's appointment compared to an analogous period in 2012 found that Reuters filed 48 percent fewer articles on climate change under the new regime, despite the fact that the latter period featured the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio de Janeiro, a continuing fight over the European Union's proposal to impose a carbon tax on international flights, record heat in the U.S. and other noteworthy developments.

  • Which Western Newspapers Connected Wildfires To Climate Change?

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Source: NASA Earth Observatory

    As some of the most destructive wildfires in history ravage the Southwest, major newspapers in the area have documented the way climate change makes blazes more likely less than half as often as national newspapers.

    Recent fires have taken a massive toll as the hottest, driest parts of the U.S. become even hotter and drier. In Arizona, 19 firefighters perished in the worst American wildfire disaster in decades, a quick-moving inferno that destroyed a small town. Months ago, fire season began early in California, and it has since been called the state's worst ever. Colorado recently experienced the most destructive wildfire in its history, bringing the total area set aflame this season within the state to about 180 square miles, larger than the area of Barbados. New Mexico and Utah have lately faced "unprecedented" and "potentially explosive" fires, respectively.

    Fires like these must be sparked (by anything from lightning to a stray rifle shot), but research indicates that climate change, and the extreme heat and drought conditions it propagates in the Southwest, boosts the chances that they will happen and cause significant damage. Indeed, seven out of nine fire scientists contacted by Media Matters as part of a 2012 study agreed that journalists should detail the role of climate change in worsening risk when they report on such fires.

  • STUDY: Media Still Largely Fail To Put Wildfires In Climate Context

    ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    A study of wildfire coverage from April through July 1 finds that print and TV media only mentioned climate change in 6 percent of coverage, although this was double the amount of coverage from a year ago. While many factors must come together for wildfires to occur, climate change has led to hotter and drier conditions in parts of the West that have increased the risk of wildfires.

  • WSJ Contradicts Experts On Social Cost Of Carbon

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL & MAX GREENBERG

    The Wall Street Journal is suggesting that there should be no benefit assigned to reducing the carbon dioxide emissions that drive climate change, seeking to criticize the Obama administration for raising the figure used to estimate those benefits -- the "social cost of carbon." However, experts widely agree that the government should calculate a social cost of carbon, and recent studies support the administration's new estimate.

  • Fox's Megyn Kelly Cuts Away From Obama Climate Change Speech To Host Climate Denier Chris Horner

    Kelly On Obama's Comment That "The Planet Is Warming": "That Is Not The Full Story"

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Fox News cut away from President Barack Obama's address on climate change in favor of a lawyer from a fossil-fuel-funded think tank, who proceeded to dismiss the science indicating significant manmade global warming.

    On Tuesday, America Live interrupted Obama's speech, claiming that the president's statement that "the planet is warming and human activity is contributing to it" is "not the full story." Host Megyn Kelly then interviewed Chris Horner, a Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) and American Tradition Institute (ATI) fellow who often appears on Fox News to cast doubt on climate science.

    Kelly granted Horner, a lawyer who has no scientific training, nearly as much air time (approximately 4 minutes and 10 seconds) as the leader of the free world (approximately 4 minutes and 35 seconds):

    Kelly and Horner each claimed there has been "no warming" in the last 15 years, with the latter laughably declaring "the presidency deserves more than [warnings about climate change]." However, short-term temperature trends do not undermine the extensive evidence that the planet is getting warmer, largely due to human activity, at a rate that will have significant negative impacts.

    Horner has spearheaded an ongoing effort to attack the Environmental Protection Agency and hype the Obama administration's alleged "war on coal," even when no evidence backs him up. Both CEI and ATI have financial ties to Koch Industries and other fossil fuel interests.

    According to Politico and Mediabistro, many other cable networks skipped the address, with the Weather Channel, Fox Business and Bloomberg among the only ones to carry the full speech.

    Previously:

    Fox Cuts Away From Obama's Berlin Speech To Cover Tea Party Protests

  • Media's Latest "War On Coal" Story Lacks Context

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    Source: Harvard Gazette (Kris Snibbe)

    Media outlets have pounced on a quote from one member of a science advisory panel to once again claim a White House "war on coal," but they are missing crucial context about President Barack Obama's expected plan, which sets aside money for the development of so-called "clean coal" technology in addition to proposing necessary regulations on the pollution that coal-fired power plants currently emit.

    Tuesday, The New York Times published a quote from Harvard University professor Daniel P. Schrag, a member of the president's Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, in anticipation of the Obama administration's announcement of measures to reduce carbon emissions and prepare for the impacts of climate change:

    "Everybody is waiting for action," he said. "The one thing the president really needs to do now is to begin the process of shutting down the conventional coal plants. Politically, the White House is hesitant to say they're having a war on coal. On the other hand, a war on coal is exactly what's needed."

    The Washington Post singled out the remarks in a post titled "Obama science adviser calls for 'war on coal." However, Schrag is not Obama's primary science adviser -- he is simply one of 18 advisors in a group that includes current and former executives from Microsoft, Google and tech conglomerate Honeywell, Inc. Additionally, as the Post noted, "he is not closely involved in setting regulatory policy for the White House."

    Right-wing outlets immediately began publicizing the remarks, suggesting they are a sign of President Obama's true motives, with The Washington Free Beacon claiming the quote shows that the president's plan "is explicitly aimed at attacking the coal industry." Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin followed up by asking "Is Obama waging a 'war on coal?' and responding that "[t]o a large extent, the answer is yes."

    However, Schrag's remark is not representative of President Obama's record as The Columbia Journalism Review and others have previously pointed out. Schrag responded to an email inquiry from Media Matters that he believes "there is nothing wrong with coal if technology is used to remove CO2 emissions and other harmful pollutants" (emphasis added):

    The quote was slightly out of context. I was asked about the question of a war on coal, and I explain that shutting down conventional coal plants is a critical step in moving towards a low-carbon economy. But the phrase "war on coal" is really inappropriate and I shouldn't have used it - simply because it is not the coal that is the problem, but the emissions from coal, and what they do to our health, the health of our children, and of course the climate. So there is nothing wrong with coal if technology is used to remove CO2 emissions and other harmful pollutants. But conventional coal, that is harming our children and changing the climate system should have no place in our society.

  • With Climate Change Announcement Pending, Conservative Media Retreat To Denial

    ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL & MAX GREENBERG

    In anticipation of President Barack Obama's announcement of measures to reduce carbon emissions, conservative media outlets are once again attempting to cast doubt on the science behind climate change. But despite their claims, a substantial majority of scientists acknowledge the evidence that the earth is warming largely due to human activity.