CNN programs uncritically promoted Beck's global warming special


On the May 2 edition of his CNN Headline News show, Glenn Beck aired an hour-long "special report" titled "Exposed: The Climate of Fear." According to an April 30 CNN press release, the special's purpose was to "deflate what Beck perceives as the media hype surrounding global warming" and "question[] the accuracy of former Vice President Al Gore's claims in the Oscar-winning documentary An Inconvenient Truth of 20-foot sea level rises and the disastrous effects of increased carbon dioxide levels." In addition to the release promoting Beck's special, on three separate occasions, various CNN and Headline News programs hosted Beck to discuss or promote his "special report," without highlighting or challenging his false or misleading assertions on the global warming issue, his attacks on Gore, or his claims of the hype surrounding the issue in his "special report." For example:

  • During an interview with Beck on the May 3 edition of American Morning, co-host Kiran Chetry echoed some of his past false claims on global warming, stating that while there is "no denying" global warming is happening, "I think the cause and how we can help is something that is up for debate." Chetry also did not challenge Beck's false attack -- frequently made by other conservatives as well -- that in An Inconvenient Truth, Gore greatly exaggerated worst-case projections of sea level increases.
  • Previewing the special on the May 2 edition of CNN Newsroom, Beck told host Don Lemon that he is doing the special because "the scientific consensus in Europe in the 1920s and '30s was that eugenics was a good idea," adding: "I'm glad that a few people stood against eugenics." Those comments recall remarks Beck made on the April 30 broadcast of his nationally syndicated radio program, in which he likened Gore's fight against global warming to Adolf Hitler's use of eugenics as justification for exterminating 6 million European Jews. On that program, Beck stated: "Al Gore's not going to be rounding up Jews and exterminating them. It is the same tactic, however. The goal is different. The goal is globalization. The goal is global carbon tax. The goal is the United Nations running the world. That is the goal. Back in the 1930s, the goal was get rid of all of the Jews and have one global government."
  • During a discussion of the special on the May 2 edition of CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace, guest host Pat Lalama did not challenge Beck's suggestion that humans may not be the primary cause of global warming. Beck also reiterated his attack on Gore, again comparing the global warming issue to what "people did in the 1920s and '30s with eugenics." Continuing to attack Gore, Beck claimed that "you could put Al Gore into a priest collar, because [the global warming issue] is now the church. It has gone from science to dogma." Beck also said that Gore "is the high priest. You cannot question him."

Media Matters for America noted that Beck's "Exposed: The Climate of Fear" relied heavily on people with energy industry ties and others espousing positions on global warming that have been soundly debunked or rejected by the overwhelming majority of scientists studying climate change.

From the May 2 edition of CNN Headline News' Nancy Grace:

LALAMA: Hey, another noted professor came out yesterday in one of the big papers and said, "You know, yes, we should all be responsible, but that, in seven years, there will be another cooling trend." I go to the UCLA movie store to, you know, pick up some movies, and I said to the kid, "What do you recommend?" He goes, "An Inconvenient Truth." and when I said, "No," he goes, "Oh, you must drive an SUV." I mean, it's like, "Oh, my gosh, I need combat pay to work out here in L.A." Why are people buying it willy- nilly?

BECK: I think it's really strange. I think you could put Al Gore into a priest collar, because it is now the church. It has gone from science to dogma.

LALAMA: Right.

BECK: It is -- and I got into trouble saying this earlier today on my radio program, but it's the way I feel: It is the same kind of thing that people did in the 1920s and '30s with eugenics. You take some scientists, and then you silence all of the dissenting voices, and then you make it into a propaganda film, and you keep feeding it to people, through all of your media, and then you introduce it in, not just science class, but art class and English class. And before you know it, there is no dissent on it.

LALAMA: But, you know, are you getting in at all to the psychology of it? I mean, are we -- is it sort of a liberal self-loathing? And, of course, I'm not accusing all liberals of being self-loathing. But it seems that we have to hate ourselves so much for being human, we Americans, that here's another thing to, like, self-flagellate over, like, "Oh, you know, we're ruining our Earth."

BECK: You know, Pat? I think it's partly that, but I also think that it's a good sign with America. It's yet another sign of our compassion. Nobody wants to hurt the Earth. Everybody wants green -- you know, good, clean water, and good, clean air, and a green Earth.

And so we say to ourselves, "You know, I know we can do better in gas mileage. You know, I don't want to throw garbage out. I don't want to throw garbage in the sky." And so what we do is we say, "Well, you know, I feel a little guilty, and maybe we are causing this, so I'll just do what I have to do."

LALAMA: Well, I'm with you, and I'm so glad you're doing this. And I'll make sure my whole family watches. And I might call their teachers, too.


GORE [video clip]: Isn't there a disagreement among scientists about whether the problem is real or not? Actually, not really.

LALAMA: I'm Pat Lalama in for Nancy Grace. Now more with Headline Prime's Glenn Beck.

So, Glenn, is global warming real? It may be, right?

BECK: You know, here's my personal stance on global warming. It's clear that the globe is warming. It's up .7 degrees Celsius in the last 100 years. However, we've gone from global warming to global cooling to global warming. It seems to be a 30-year trend.

Maybe this is -- you know, maybe we're going to go into an extreme warming period or an extreme cooling period. That is what happens. The real question is: Are we causing it? And can we stop it?

The Kyoto Treaty, we are going to spend billions and billions of dollars, and we're not going to stop global warming. They say, if it's fully implemented, and everything, every piece of science is accurate, it will delay global warming another three years in the next 100 years. That doesn't seem like a smart investment.

LALAMA: Right. Hey, what do you make of carbon offsets? Is that bogus? It's kind of the new catch phrase? "I'm changing my light bulbs."

BECK: You know, Pat, what really kills me is there are so many similarities to the Dark Ages and the church. I swear to you, first of all, Al Gore is the high priest. You cannot question him. You cannot question the facts.

LALAMA: I know.

BECK: They are saying that any scientist that disagrees with it is a heretic. He's crazy.

LALAMA: Right.

BECK: And, by the way, you can come to me and buy a special dispensation. You can buy forgiveness.

LALAMA: Hey, I have to wear a bulletproof vest in this town, so you know what it's like, and we'll be watching.

BECK: Oh, I know.

LALAMA: OK, Glenn.

BECK: Thanks a lot.

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