Wire Services Uncritically Promote Fossil Industry Propaganda

plant_emissions_s.PNGEven as the costs of global boiling increase from Australia to California, the mainstream media continues to provide a platform for conservative polluter propaganda. In the past few days, both the Associated Press and Reuters have written news stories based on polluter misinformation without indicating their industry ties.

Reuters (2/18/09): “Western climate plan could prolong recession.” “A cap-and-trade program planned for the Western United States and Canada,” Reuters reporter Nichola Groom writes, “could prolong the economic recession and chase high technology investment to other regions, according to a new study commissioned by” the Western Business Roundtable, described only as “a group of business leaders.”

Although Groom does report that Jim Sims is not only the chief executive of the Roundtable but also “chairman of Colorado-based lobbying firm Policy Communications Inc,” nowhere does the article describe who the “group of business leaders” are. The Roundtable is, in fact, as the DeSmog Project’s Kevin Grandia has previously reported, a “fossil-fuel industry organization whose membership includes Peabody Coal, Shell Oil, and the Western Fuels Association.” Policy Communications is also responsible for these other Orwellian front groups: Partnership for America, Americans for American Energy, NextGen Energy Council, and the Conservation Science Foundation.

AP (2/15/09): “Former astronaut speaks out on global warming.” “Former astronaut” Harrison Schmitt “is among 70 skeptics scheduled to speak next month at the International Conference on Climate Change” hosted by “the Chicago-based Heartland Institute,” reports the Associated Press. Schmitt “walked on the moon and once served New Mexico in the U.S. Senate,” with a “science degree from the California Institute of Technology” and “doctorate in geology from Harvard University in 1964.”

The Associated Press story, cribbed from a piece by the Santa Fe New Mexican, fails to mention that Schmitt is a Republican who was the president and chairman of the Annapolis Center for Science-Based Public Policy from 1994 to 1998, and remains its “chairman emeritus.” The Annapolis Center is an ExxonMobil-funded front group founded by Richard Siebert, a National Association of Manufacturers lobbyist. Furthermore, Media Matters notes the article fails to mention the “Heartland Institute receives funding from the fossil fuels industry.”

Of course, this misreporting is not special to the wire services. The Washington Post publishes the global-cooling rants of George Will; the New York Times publishes John Tierney’s radical global-warming Pollyannaism; CNN’s Ali Velshi promotes liquid coal and goes on drilling junkets with Michelle Bachmann. Igor Volsky describes the sorry state of climate-change journalism in today’s Progress Report:

Given the media’s eagerness to prop up global warming skeptics, it’s no surprise that “only 40 percent of Americans believe that ‘most’ scientists agree that ‘global warming is happening.”

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