The Washington Post

Climate bias at Fox, WSJ ‘far exceeded’ rest of media: Scientist

In this 2008 photo, ice floes are shown in Baffin Bay above the Arctic Circle. (JONATHAN HAYWARD/AP)

The Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has just published a study criticizing Fox News Channel and the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section for misleading coverage of the climate change issue. Jumping straight to the key findings:

• Over a recent six-month period, 93 percent of Fox News Channel’s representations of climate science were misleading (37 out of 40 instances).

• Similarly, over the past year, 81 percent of the representations of climate science in the Wall Street Journal’s opinion section were misleading (39 out of 48 instances).

Sounds damning, but what about the rest of the media? Do we have to focus exclusively on Fox News and the opinion section of the Wall Street Journal?

Absolutely, says Brenda Ekwurzel, a climate scientist at UCS who participated in the study. Fox News and the Wall Street Journal’s opinion content, says Ekwurzel, have compiled a “history of bias and misleading information about the basic knowledge that climate change is real and that humans are responsible” that “far exceeded all the other major news outlets that have been analyzed.” Says who?

Says the study’s Appendix B, responds Ekwurzel, citing studies that have tweaked Fox and the Wall Street Journal on this front.

And even for a someone who has a Ph.D. in isotope geochemistry, Ekwurzel doesn’t dismiss anecdotage. Over the years, she has talked with a lot of folks about climate change, and a pattern has emerged. “I talk to folks out there — educating about climate science — and I get questions, and often what I hear are incorrect facts. And I often take the opportunity to ask, ‘Where did you hear that from?’ ” says Ekwurzel. And they say, more often than not, ‘Fox News.’ ”

Erik Wemple writes the Erik Wemple blog, where he reports and opines on media organizations of all sorts.


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