CNN and Fox Can't Keep Their Climate Facts Straight: Study

Though numerous media surveys and studies have shown that mainstream news outlets have consistently ignored or underreported the crisis of climate change over the last two decades, a new analysis released Monday shows that even when the top cable news channels do cover the issue, they consistently misinform their viewers on the facts.

According to the Union of Concerned Scientists, the scientific accuracy of climate change coverage varies significantly across the three major cable news networks—CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC.

Of the three—not surprisingly—Fox News was the least accurate in its coverage of global warming and climate change issues during 2013, in which 72 percent of the segments contained misleading statements.

CNN came in second in terms of accuracy, with about a third of segments featuring misleading statements. And MSNBC beat them both, with only eight percent of segments containing misleading statements.


“Sometimes, it’s like the networks are covering different planets,” said Aaron Huertas, a science communications officer at UCS who led the analysis. “Unfortunately, too many politicians, interest groups, and pundits continue to dispute established climate science and cable shows sometimes give them a platform to do so.”

The problem, according to Huertas and his colleagues, is that scientific and factual inaccuracies cripple the society’s ability to have a rational debate on the subject, because even if “hosts, guests, and audiences express varying attitudes, beliefs, and values around questions of climate policy,” the facts should remain sacred in terms of informing their viewers.

“”Climate science can be complex and difficult to cover,” the group admits, but “each of the major cable news networks, regardless of its overall performance, has shown that it can get the science right. Each can — and should — do more to achieve higher levels of accuracy.”

From the UCS analysis:

CNN: Two-Thirds Accurate, One-Third Misleading

Fox News: Misleading Most of the Time

MSNBC: Mostly Accurate, with Some Overstatements


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