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.