Oil Covered Pundits: Media Fails To Disclose Guests’ Industry Affiliation 94 Percent Of The Time

Major news companies have been giving a platform for fossil fuel-backed “experts” to pen arguments against clean energy without disclosing the author’s connections to the industry, a new study from the Checks and Balances project finds.

Across sixty major news outlets, in the course of five years, the group found that major publications only disclosed oil industry ties six percent of the time, even when the authors represented organizations that receive hundreds of thousands — sometimes millions — of dollars from oil big wigs like the Koch Brothers and ExxonMobil.

Often times, papers identified the authors by other terms, including “conservative” or “libertarian,” but without any disclosure of the funders:

The conservative Heritage Foundation topped the list of organizations that benefited from this lack of disclosure, with 277 articles about energy in major publications. And some publications proved worse at disclosure than others. The Christian Science Monitor, for example, never mentioned its authors’ connections. The New York Times did a better job of making such connections known:

An absence of coverage on climate issues has been a consistent issue in the media. In 2010, for example, coverage of climate change by major papers dropped significantly; the same thing happened again in 2011. In fact, as the Arctic shed a volume of ice the size of Canada and Texas combined this summer, television news outlets covered Paul Ryan’s workout routine three times more than global warming.

Coverage of the issue has been insufficient and this study just adds more ammunition to the argument that major publications are disregarding responsible journalism on one of the biggest issues of the century.

8 Responses to Oil Covered Pundits: Media Fails To Disclose Guests’ Industry Affiliation 94 Percent Of The Time

  1. Michael Berndtson says:

    This is very interesting and supports my suspicions about “The Christian Science Monitor.” It’s usually a pretty good source of news – but as of late its climate and energy reporting almost compares to Justin Bieber “Bieleber” fan-fiction.

  2. BillD says:

    I’ve been reluctant to write letters to the editor about environmental issues. However, I will keep a close eye on my local newspaper for articles that do not disclose a writer’s financial backing/conflict of interest. I will write about that and will also take advantage of the opportunity to point out the lack of coverage of science in the media

  3. Robert Nagle says:

    This happens all the time in the Houston Chronicle’s fuelfix business magazine. Also, with the ill-fated debate between Bill Nye and Marc Morano on CNN’s Piers Morgan last week, it would have helped to identify the funding source for Morano.

  4. Bruce S says:

    We live in an age of delusion . What fish are we really eating, what % of our food is GMO, what part of our news is just propaganda for some corporate master? How much misinformation is exactly designed to keep us fat and happy. By this logic weed should be legal soon because dulling our senses and a good case of munchies might outweigh the prison unions corporate influence.

  5. Media depends on ad revenue, and oil companies have money to withhold. Not to mention money to discredit news sources, if that’s in their interest.

    Also, they do have knowledgeable people who will come on the air for free. That’s hard for a network like CNBC to pass up, when you’ve got 24 hours a day of airtime to fill.

    And they want to attract an affluent audience so they can charge good money for their ads. A lot of the people they want to attract subconsciously want their hand patted and to be told, “It’s okay.”

    In other words, most of what we see is not journalism. It is an extended, subliminal advertisement for the status quo.

    The multinational oil conglomerates have a profound natural advantage: we all use oil, and it unnerves most people to think of a world in which there is less oil.

    Oil is the devil we know; climate change is the devil we don’t. They take maximum advantage of that.

    Convincing people that the business-as-usual future is worse (probably orders of magnitude worse) than the status quo is the primary challenge to achieving a legitimate consensus on a plan to get off fossil fuels.

    Visualization helps. Speaking of which, not even the Mainstream Media is a complete loss. You can find news of the Witness King Tide Project on ABC. I found it in my local newspaper.

  6. Floyd Smith says:

    “One of” the biggest issues of the century? We’re irrevocably committed (in my view) to a mass extinction in the biosphere, global drought and desertification, and a shift to 4-7C of warming this century, with a complete shift to a radically different climate in the centuries just after. There are very few pathways by which all this doesn’t shrink the human population by half or more. The only potential bigger issue of any likelihood is global thermonuclear war, and if that happened, it would probably be triggered by tensions from – you guessed it. Disappointing.

  7. SecularAnimist says:

    Bruce S wrote: “weed should be legal soon because dulling our senses …”

    Cannabis does not “dull” the senses.

  8. Charlie Peters says:

    California CARB fuel was close to zero ethanol in our fuel in 1992..

    1992 fuel price about $1.40 per gallon.

    Ethanol push from fed EPA and friends pushed ethanol to 5.6% and we paid more for our fuel.

    Fed EPA and Big oil refiners pushed the oxygenate to 10% and we paid more.

    Now BP GMO fuel is pushing for over $1.00 in corporate welfare with 15% of the fuel market while cutting back Oil and refining.

    Will BP GMO fuel patents generate credit trade income from the Big oil industry with the Queen Mother help.

    The Queen banker friends may want a share.

    So. how big does California ethanol bill need to be to qualify for the EPA waiver?