Media ‘Green War’ Breaks Out

Media ‘Green War’ Breaks Out

It is the business of the Fourth Estate to be sceptical. Sceptical, that is, of government, of political agendas and of vested interests. While that scepticism still applies to Big Corporate, Big Oil et al., the mainstream media (MSM) has been asleep at the wheel when it comes to Big Green – and the huge amount of government largesse it receives.

But a twin-pronged attack by the UK Guardian and the US media watchdog Media Matters on other Western news media suggests that all that is changing.

Germany’s Der Spiegel recently ran a number of articles revealing a deep concern over the direction of Germany’s green energy policy since the knee-jerk reaction of its government, post-Fukishima, to dump its nuclear programme. In the UK the nationals have lately been on the case over the mind-boggling subsidies for wind and solar projects. Two things are clear. The MSM has become aware of two things: renewable energy is extraordinarily expensive and the public has grown weary of the Grand Narrative of climate alarmism without any real evidence.

The latter was tacitly acknowledged even by the warmist editors at the New York Times. In January they laid off its entire complement of nine staff on its environment desk; a lack of public interest due to a lack of evidence, perhaps? Then on July 23 the doyen of the climate alarmist flag-waving media, the UK Guardian, ran two articles that revealed, as one opined, “The gloves are off” in the public debate over anthropogenic global warming (AGW)/climate change. Could it finally be true? Might we at last expect genuine debate in an area the MSM has long been guilty of attempting to close down?

The first article pulled no punches in attacking a raft of other UK national newspapers for conducting a “sustained attack on environmentalism”. The other carries a report from the US watchdog Media Matters targeting the international news agency Reuters. It’s sin? Allegedly cutting its climate change coverage “by nearly 50 percent” after appointing a “sceptic editor”.

The Guardian’s Don’t underestimate rightwing desperation in media attacks on greens was penned by the aptly named Tom Burke. The author had in the crosshairs “influential journalists” at The Times, the Telegraph and the Financial Times (with ‘honorable mentions’ for the dailies Mail and Express). All are accused of writing articles “blaming the environment community for our current woes”. The “environment community”, presumably an exclusive club which alone cares about our environment, is concerned that much of the news media is mounting a “sustained attack on environmentalism”. But Mr Burke, it seems, has a very short memory.

For years all three, the Telegraph, the FT and (especially) the Times, have been essentially eco-alarmist, largely buying into the UN IPCC need for an anti-carbon dioxide war and its economy-sapping solutions. At best, the Telegraph has been even-handed in its coverage. Yes it does carry Chris Booker’s anti-alarmist blog. But it has also consistently carried the usual alarmist fair. Only recently have all three revealed a growing editorial concern with the increasing economic impact of government green policies.

Neither is the media generally conducting a “sustained attack on environmentalism”. Unless, that is, we mean the modern ideological version dominated by leftwing social engineers? As with other alarmist writers, the theme of Burke’s article is one of moral self-righteousness. Only Burke’s “environment community” are concerned, it seems, for the general environment. Writers not of that community, simply bear “animus towards the environment”. Who does that?  

AGW “deniers” were one and the same with “sceptics”. According to Burke, however, “deniers have become sceptics”. Confused? Burke certainly is. Above all he is irritated that a “cabal of ideologues and editors” are having the temerity to hold Big Green to account over its diagnosis, solutions and sheer cost. Burke calls for a Big Green counter-attack as, “An uncontested realm of public discourse is an occupied realm.” Anyone know what that means?

Burke closes by demanding three things. He wants media editors to be held to account on climate matters, the naming and shaming of writers who mislead the public on climate issues, and he wants to “mobilise the base of society”. I have no problem at all with the first. I have often done the second myself. As for the third, anyone know what the “base of society” is?

On the same day as Burke’s article appeared, the Guardian ran a separate piece reporting how Media Matters for America had identified that climate coverage by the Reuters press agency “fell by nearly 50 percent” after it had appointed a sceptic, Paul Ingrassia, as senior editor.  For the uninitiated, Media Matters is anything but an independent group of public-spirited citizens. In February 2012, an investigation by the conservative US news site Daily Caller discovered that Media Matters is “foundation driven”. Since 2003, 54 percent of the $28.8 million of funds Media Matter raised came from activist liberal groups, including billionaire George Soros’ Open Society Institutes, the radical left-wing Tides Foundation, and the particularly vicious MoveOn.org.  The point being that Media Matters is no citizen-supported organisation operating in the wider public interest. Rather it is what Mr Burke might term an ideologically driven front group for a leftist social engineering …er…cabal?

The Guardian was making the point that while Reuters’ was cutting back its coverage on climate change, its mains competitor, Bloomberg, was expanding its coverage at the behest of its owner Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Bloomberg was voted in as Republican governor but is now an Independent who has made strong liberal and climate activist statements. As the Guardian reports, what set the Media Matter scrutiny of Reuters in motion was the departure of its former Asia Climate Change Correspondent, David Fogerty. Fogerty complained he had left because under Ingrassia senior editorship it “became increasingly difficult to get climate change stories published”. At this point, I nearly fell off my chair laughing. Coming at the same issue from a ‘sceptic’ perspective I was reminded how, for over ten years, I found editors largely had a voracious appetite for alarmist/sensationalist material, but had almost none for fact-driven questioning scepticism.

So is Reuters’ Ingrassia simply another of Burke’s ‘anti-green cabalists’? Well, according to Fogerty, Ingrassia had explained that he was “just someone who wanted to see more evidence mankind was changing the global climate”.

And that, Messrs Burke and Fogerty, is something we’d all like to see.

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