On this morning’s Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace touted his show’s “fair and balanced” bona fides by claiming he was going to host a debate on whether climate change actually exists. Promoting the conversation on its website, the official blog of the show wrote, “Does climate change exist? We’ll have a fair and balanced debate on Fox News Sunday.”
The debate pitted prominent global warming denier, Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), against the author of climate change legislation in the House, Rep. Ed Markey (D-MA). When Wallace pressed Inhofe to confront the fact that the last decade has been the hottest in recorded history, Inhofe — true to form — denied the reality:
WALLACE: The fact is, just this week, the world meteorological organization said that this decade is the warmest on record, and that 2009 is the 5th warmest year on record. Does that mean nothing?
INHOFE: It means very little. Because that was based on the same flawed science — the IPCC science — that we have been looking at.
Wallace wrapped up the conversation by saying, “This is a debate that will continue.” Watch a compilation:
Fox’s presentation of a “debate” over global warming science is a classic example of the “false balance” that the traditional media often employs to discuss the issue. The media watchdog group, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting, observed that the journalistic norm of “balance” has given disproportionate attention to false perspectives: “By giving equal time to opposing views, the major mainstream newspapers significantly downplayed scientific understanding of the role humans play in global warming.”
The “debate” obscures the real impacts of global warming: Arctic sea ice is at historically low levels, Australia is burning, the northern United Kingdom is underwater, and the world’s glaciers are disappearing. And of course, it’s the hottest decade in history.