Deniers to Be at Trump Hotel in Washington, D.C., Today

For Immediate Release: July 25, 2019 / WASHINGTON, D.C. – Media coverage of climate denial by five prominent industry-funded think tanks has risen over the past five years, with conservative media and even some mainstream media providing an uncritical platform for them, a new Public Citizen analysis shows. 

Public Citizen released the analysis as the conservative Heartland Institute prepares to hold its annual “climate conference” at the Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C. today. Public Citizen analyzed the extent to which the five think tanks associated with the Heartland event were covered from 2014 through 2018 by the top 50 U.S. newspapers and by national television news networks. 

The think tanks are the American Enterprise Institute, Competitive Enterprise Institute, Cato Institute, Heartland Institute and the Heritage Foundation. 

The number of media mentions featuring the think tanks and published op-eds by them rose over the five years, hitting a peak in 2017 (in the wake of President Donald Trump’s inauguration) and remaining steady over the course of 2018, Public Citizen found. Many outlets cited the deniers to provide “balance” – even though the deniers’ positions have been widely debunked. Most outlets didn’t inform viewers or readers that the think tanks receive fossil fuel money. 

In addition:

<li>1. From 2014 through 2018, the five think tanks were cited or published 528 times in newspapers on issues related to the climate crisis and were featured 62 times on national television news networks. Only 92 of the newspaper pieces (17%) noted the think tank’s relationship to fossil fuel interests.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li>2. Of the newspaper mentions, 315 (60%) presented arguments or comments by think tank representatives as legitimate views, were op-eds or columns by or supporting the positions of the think tanks or were editorials citing research by the think tanks.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li>3. Newspapers published 84 op-eds by one of the five think tanks.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="font-size: 0.875rem">The Wall Street Journal</em><span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>published the most (18). Only one of the 84 op-eds,<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span><a href="https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066&source=gmail&ust=1564148026924000&usg=AFQjCNHdmEUMPwTOZY1lxCWe24C0LTts9Q" data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="color: rgba(1, 80, 141, 0.760784); word-wrap: break-word; word-break: break-word; font-size: 0.875rem" rel="noopener noreferrer">published by</a><a href="https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066&source=gmail&ust=1564148026924000&usg=AFQjCNHdmEUMPwTOZY1lxCWe24C0LTts9Q" data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="color: rgba(1, 80, 141, 0.760784); word-wrap: break-word; word-break: break-word; font-size: 0.875rem" rel="noopener noreferrer"><span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></a><a href="https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066" target="_blank" data-saferedirecturl="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://default.salsalabs.org/T6e1d7c8d-cf04-4eec-b6e7-06903e1a3de2/682aae38-c2c2-4520-939f-18d8b5648066&source=gmail&ust=1564148026924000&usg=AFQjCNHdmEUMPwTOZY1lxCWe24C0LTts9Q" data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="color: rgba(1, 80, 141, 0.760784); word-wrap: break-word; word-break: break-word; font-size: 0.875rem" rel="noopener noreferrer"><em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="font-size: 0.875rem">USA Today</em></a>, identified the think tank’s financial relationship to the fossil fuel industry.&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li><img src="https://greenlivingguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/07/pexels-photo-683535.jpg" class="size-thumbnail wp-image-63173" width="1880" height="1036"/></li>
<li>4. More than half of the newspaper articles, excluding opinion pieces, used a denier argument or comment to provide false balance with the scientific understanding of the climate crisis.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li><em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="font-size: 0.875rem">5. The New York Times</em><span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>had the most mentions of the think tanks, with 84 pieces. While 34 of those pieces provided false balance, the paper also published 17 pieces exposing climate denial and didn’t publish any op-eds by the think tanks or by those citing the work of the think tanks.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li><em data-removefontsize="true" data-originalcomputedfontsize="14" style="font-size: 0.875rem">6. The Wall Street Journal</em><span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span>made 44 mentions of the think tanks over the five-year period. Of those, only one piece acknowledged the relationship between the think tank and fossil fuel industry.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li>7. Eighty-one percent of TV segments featuring one of the five think tanks either presented its views unopposed or featured its views as a “balance” to climate science or solutions.<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li>8. Fox News Network and CNN accounted for 89% of segments featuring the think tanks.&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li>9. All of the 28 segments that aired on Fox legitimized denier arguments.&nbsp;&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>
<li><span class="Apple-converted-space"><img src="https://greenlivingguy.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/cold-front-warm-front-hurricane-felix-76969.jpeg" class="size-thumbnail" width="135" height="92"/></span></li>
<li>10. Fifteen of the 27 CNN segments used deniers to provide “balance.”&nbsp;CNN employed Stephen Moore of the Heritage Foundation as a correspondent from early 2017 until his nomination for the board of the Federal Reserve on March 22, 2019.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;<span class="Apple-converted-space">&nbsp;</span></li>

“The mounds of scientific evidence that the burning of fossil fuels is overheating our planet, coupled with the knowledge that the fossil fuel industry has funneled money to think tanks to manufacture doubt about the crisis, should lead to a radical decline in the influence of climate deniers in the media,” said Allison Fisher, outreach program director for Public Citizen’s climate program. “Amazingly, coverage of the deniers’ messages has risen over the past five years as the climate crisis has worsened, with much of it being uncritical. The media should not give these organizations a platform, and if they must cover them, do a better job of alerting readers and viewers who is funding them.” 

Source: Public Citizen

For the analysis, Public Citizen accessed transcripts from six national television news networks (ABC, CBS, CNN, Fox, MSNBC and NBC) and articles from the top 50 U.S. newspapers by circulation. As a result of this methodology, the analysis does not include some significant midsized papers, Capitol Hill dailies or trade publications.

Written by greenlivingguy

The Green Living Guy, Seth Leitman is a green living expert, celebrity and Editor of the McGraw-Hill, TAB Green Guru Guides. Seth is also an Author, Radio Host, Reporter, Writer and a Environmental Consultant on green living. The Green Living Guy writes about green living, green lighting, the green guru guides and more. Seth's books range from: # Build Your Own Electric Vehicle by Bob Brant and Seth Leitman (2nd and 3rd editions) # Build Your Own Plug-in Hybrid Electric Vehicle by Seth Leitman # Build Your Own Electric Motorcycle by Carl Vogel # Green Lighting by Seth Leitman, Brian Clark Howard and Bill Brinsky # Solar Power For Your Home by David Findley # Renewable Energies For Your Home by Russel Gehrke # Do-it-Yourself Home Energy Audits by David Findley # Build Your Own Small Wind Power System by Brian Clark Howard and Kevin Shea # and more green living books to follow.