Reporters Ignore Climate Change Skeptics

newspapersThe views of researchers skeptical of the theory humans are causing potentially catastrophic climate change have become scarce in news stories covering the topic.

A recent study by George Mason University researchers published in the trade magazine Journalism found contrarian views on the subject are no longer welcome in many of the nation’s newspapers. The authors of “Covering Global Warming in Dubious Times: Environmental Reporters in the New Media Ecosystem,” interviewed nearly a dozen journalists who regularly report on climate change, formerly known as global warming.

Skeptics ‘Generally Irrelevant’

The George Mason study quotes one reporter as saying, “there is pretty much understanding across the board in the United States media now that this is real, this is true, it’s happening, [and] we’re responsible. That debate is over. [Thus] in this day and age, including climate denialists (sic) in a story about climate change is generally irrelevant.”

News editors encourage reporters to deny there is an ongoing debate over humanity’s role on climate change, the study found. Journalists (who requested anonymity in the study) reported, “this practice of ignoring skeptics was largely supported by their managers and editors. In fact, one reporter’s news organization had recently developed an explicit editorial policy discouraging reporters from quoting climate change deniers in environment and science coverage.”

L.A. Times Confirms Bias

A Los Angeles Times commentary (October 8, 2013) confirms the study’s findings. Paul Thornton, the Times letter’s editor explained the paper’s decision not to print letters to the editor questioning the theory of human-induced global warming. Thornton acknowledged he is “no expert when it comes to our planet’s complex climate processes.” Instead, Thornton stated he relies on the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which he described as “a body made up of the world’s top climate scientists.” According to Thornton the IPCC, had recently concluded “it was 95% percent certain that we fossil-fuel-burning humans are driving global warming. The debate right now is not whether this evidence exists (clearly, it does) but what this evidence means for us.”

Thornton’s commentary concluded, “Simply put,I do my best to keep letters of error off the letters page; when one does run, a correction is published. Saying ‘there is no sign humans have caused climate change’ is not stating an opinion, it’s asserting a factual inaccuracy.”

‘Witch Hunt’

Jay Lehr, science director at The Heartland Institute, publisher of Environment & Climate News, identifies something more ominous at work. “There is an old saying in law schools everywhere,” Lehr said. “’If you have the facts on your side, pound the facts. If you have the law on your side, pound the law. If you have neither on your side, pound the table.’ What is going on now is a witch hunt, proving there are no longer any supportable facts that indicate mankind has any significant role in determining climate. All that remains is to vilify those in opposition.”


Comments (4)

  • Avatar

    Frederick Colbourne


    Well, I wouldn’t say there are NO facts, only that the facts are beginning to look like they don’t support AGW as strongly as they seem to have done before.

    What is happening is that more of recent warming seems now to be natural and as a consequence the sensitivity of the Earth’s climate system seems to be much less then formerly believed, probably 50% lower at the mid-point of the range and even lower at the top end.

  • Avatar



    Newspaper Editors find it a convenient cop out to say they rely on the IPPC. Fortunately
    the vast majority of the public no longer count on the dying” main street ” media outlets . If they screen out and filter comments to suit their own agenda they just accelerate their own failure to provide balanced reporting .

    What is interesting is to see it confirmed how myopic the LA Times has become .

    Reports used to be the ones that didn’t take everything at face value but clearly at the LA Times that has been weened from their DNA .

    No one in the sceptics camp denies climate changes or that we are still coming out of the last ice age .

    They simply don’t buy the propaganda and gross exaggeration that humans are going to cause the earth to have a fever or that some
    magic new force will allow humans to adjust the earths thermostat .

    CO2 in the atmosphere is overwhelmingly
    from natural sources and represents a fraction of 1% of the earth’s atmosphere .

    The real deniers are newspapers like the LA Times who are bullied into promoting the grossly exaggerated scam .

    The things that can actually warm or cool the earth are natural variables .Arrogant ,preachy ,self important humans are not going to take control over Mother Nature ..but really that isn’t the objective anyways is it ?

    The issue is how do the global warming (climate change )promoters make people feel good while they empty your wallet .

    The LA Times is just helping them because they are to soft to do their jobs .

  • Avatar

    John Wilder


    I sent my scientific refutation article to the top 100 newspapers in the country. Not only did they refuse to publish it in spite of my reminder that they have an obligation to print both sides of the story accurately and fairly, they even refused to read it. The few editors who responded said that they had no interest in refutation articles but if I have any supporting articles they would be happy to publish those articles.

    I took on my own home town newspaper the Florida Times Union for publishing a full page article by an author who had no scientific credentials or even training in science and was completely unqualified who had a rant about man caused global warming. They admitted to me privately that she had not expertise but did not publish a correction or retraction

Comments are closed