Al Gore Channels Ross Gelbspan

What’s new is still old again, over at the PBS NewsHour.

As we close out the year 2018 with just 5 days left at the time of this blog post’s publication, the PBS NewsHour needs only three more instances of either significant mentions of the global warming issue or direct discussion segments about, it to cross the line of 800 times since 1996 (the start of its online broadcast archives) that this issue was brought up in their program. Within all those mentions/discussions, there were only seven instances where NewsHour viewers were given any semblance of pure science viewpoints which undermine the notion of catastrophic man-caused global warming, and none of those came from PhD-level skeptic climatologists or atmospheric physicists.

When it comes to the three talking points that the man-caused global warming issue ultimately boils down to, “the science is settled” / “fossil fuel industry executives colluded with skeptic climate scientist ‘shills’ to spread lies about it being unsettled” / “reporters aren’t obligated to give fair media balance to skeptics because of those first two points,” the NewsHour has proceeded nonstop on the first point. To their credit, they’ve only focused on the ‘fossil fuel industry conspiracy’ around a half dozen times by my count, and brought up the third point about ‘media balance’ perhaps only three times in the past 20+ years.

But the most recent time when they implied skeptic climate scientists shouldn’t get equal media time was quite spectacular.

From the October 12, 2018 interview featuring Al Gore, we have the following (4:38 point in their video), where anchorwoman Judy Woodruff attempted to bring up the idea of opposing scientific viewpoints during a broader discussion of the settled science and how to implement political solutions:

Judy Woodruff: … I do want to ask you about the political response. As you know, a number of conservatives, other scientists are saying they- these dire future predictions are just not borne out by evidence. But the other thing is, the political…

Al Gore: Well, hold on. Hold on. Let me stop you there. When you say other scientists, not really. There are a few — there are a few outliers, but 99-plus percent of the scientific community is aligned on these objectives. You still have some people who say the Earth is flat and not round, but you don’t give them equal time and saying some people say round, some people say flat.

Judy Woodruff: No, you’re right. ….. they are a minority …..

The bookend situation for this has a common thread item. The late IPCC scientist Dr Stephen Schneider (who appeared three times on the NewsHour) may have invented the ‘skeptics don’t deserve fair media balance’ line in the late 1980s, and it isn’t difficult to find how Gelbspan widely spread the idea (with variations on that theme repeated in places as diverse as sports car forum diatribes). Dr Schneider later praised Ross Gelbspan for winning a Pulitzer just like Gore did, when the Pulitzer organization states otherwise, but back in 1992, Dr Schneider proclaimed “It is irresponsible to give equal time to a few people standing out in left field, and his specific quote was immediately followed by one from then-Senator Al Gore about the certainty of the settled science …….. in a newspaper article authored by Ross Gelbspan.

What’s old is new again. You could hardly ask for a better scripted resurrection of that ancient talking point than what was seen on the NewsHour barely 76 days ago. Or a more dubious resurrection of that point, considering the NewsHour’s sheer lack of telling its viewers at any time during the last 20 years in any depth that there actually are ‘other scientists saying these dire future predictions are just not borne out by evidence.’