NBC's Thompson Covers Climategate Only to Dismiss It

NBC's Anne Thompson, on Monday's Today, covered the Climategate story only to essentially dismiss it in a nothing-to-see here, move along fashion. CBS's The Early Show had a brief mention of it, and ABC's Good Morning America did nothing. Thompson, reporting live from Copenhagen, opened her piece declaring that delegates determined "this could be their last best chance to deal with the consequences of climate change," but then added "overshadowing all of this is a scandal involving some stolen e-mails that has skeptics, once again, questioning the whole idea of global warming." 

Thompson went on to air criticism from Professor Ian Plimer, of the University of Adelaide who charged, "There's data being massaged," but then devoted the rest of her piece to confirming the existence of climate change, even allowing a Penn State scientist, who appeared in the e-mail exchange, to defend the use of the term "trick," by a colleague as he claimed: "What the person meant was it was a clever approach to the problem."

After that soundbite Thompson quickly returned to her more familiar role of advancing the global warming propaganda as she segued: "But does this controversy change the science? A team of explorers will present findings on Arctic ice melt in Copenhagen, findings that have nothing to do with the e-mails." After airing two more talking heads who warned of the dangers of climate change Thompson concluded:

Now, beyond just the lack of summer sea ice, scientists also point to some other things happening around the planet. The increased melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, earlier springs...and all of those things, are certain things that are happening, that they say it doesn't matter what's in those e-mails, the Earth is changing.

As for the rest of Copenhagen coverage on Today NBC's Chuck Todd mentioned Barack Obama will be visiting the conference but didn't mention Climategate. Today co-anchor Ann Curry had two news briefs, one at 8am when she noted, "A top United Nations' scientist defended evidence that humans are heating up the planet with potentially disastrous effects," but did not mention the reason he had to defend the stance. And by 9am half hour the whole Climategate controversy was forgotten as Curry avoided the topic as she passed along: "Diplomats from nearly 200 countries are working on a deal to reduce greenhouse gasses and helped poor nations adapt to climate change."

Over on CBS' The Early Show, Russ Mitchell in a 7am brief hailed: "What is billed as the most important climate change conference in history opened this morning in Copenhagen, Denmark," and Richard Roth only touched on the controversy at the very tail end of his report during the 8am half hour:

The conference goal is to get worldwide agreement on a time table for substantial cuts in carbon emissions and to have rich nations agree to pay to help poor ones deal with the costs of climate change. In a policy shift from the Bush administration, the U.S. will pledge itself to 17 percent cuts in carbon emissions over the next decade. But it would take congressional approval to seal the deal and the issue's contentious. It's also shadowed by some new skepticism about a climate crisis, fueled by stolen e-mails from a university here in Britain which suggest some scientists may have manipulated data to bolster their case supporting manmade global warming.

However even that was more than what ABC's Good Morning America did as they ignored the Climategate story altogether in two Chris Cuomo briefs. Cuomo, during the 9am half hour, however did find time to admonish the delegates from the left as he pointed out their hypocrisy: "Even though it's a summit on climate change, 1200 limos have been ordered to carry VIPs to Copenhagen. None of them hybrids. And, 140 private jets are expected at the airport. They're not good for the environment."

The following is the full Thompson piece as it was aired on the December 7 Today show:

MEREDITH VIEIRA: And now to a big summit on climate change, getting under way today in Denmark. Representatives from more than 190 nations are in attendance, and next week President Obama will be there as well. NBC's chief environmental affairs correspondent, Anne Thompson is in Copenhagen. Anne, good morning.
[On screen headline: "Climategate, Stolen E-Mails And The Science Of Global Warming."]
ANNE THOMPSON: Good morning, Meredith. President Obama is coming for the end of that conference and he will join about 109 other heads of state. But today, as the conference opened, the delegates here heard that this could be their last best chance to deal with the consequences of climate change. But overshadowing all of this is a scandal involving some stolen emails that has skeptics, once again, questioning the whole idea of global warming.
Climate science is ripe for political theater. The cabinet of Nepal meeting at the foot of Mount Everest, where the glaciers in the Himalayas are shrinking. The Maldives cabinet meeting underwater, to show what could happen to this island nation if sea levels rise. Even Hollywood has gotten into the act.
(Clip of movie 2012 shown)
THOMPSON: Now in Britain, a different kind of show. A scandal called Climategate. It involves a series of e-mails stolen from the Climate Research Unit at the university of East Anglia, a leading climate science institute, igniting a war of words.
PROFESSOR IAN PLIMER, UNIVERSITY OF ADELAIDE: Underpinned by the "F" word, fraud.
PROFESSOR MICHAEL MANN, PENN STATE UNIVERSITY: What they've done is to engage in this smear campaign.
UNIDENTIFIED MAN: A shocking revelation.
THOMPSON: Those long skeptical of the science of global warming say the language in the e-mails suggests these scientists manipulated their findings.
PALMER: It just confirmed what a lot of scientists thought. That things are not right. That there's data being massaged, there is complete obstruction.
THOMPSON: Penn State scientist Michael Mann, who features in the e-mails, said the word "trick" in one exchange does not refer to deception, but rather an accepted data technique.
MANN: It was all clearly labeled in the paper. There was nothing secret about it. What, what the person meant was it was a clever approach to the problem.
THOMPSON: Despite such explanations, both universities are investigating, as will the United Nations. Its scientists used the data to help conclude man is behind global warming. But does this controversy change the science? A team of explorers will present findings on Arctic ice melt in Copenhagen, findings that have nothing to do with the e-mails.
PEN HADOW, CATLIN POLAR SURVEY: The data we supplied supported the emerging consensus that we're looking at 80 percent loss of sea ice cover in the Arctic ocean over the next 10 years or so, in the summer times. The face of our planet is changing.
THOMPSON: Such changes are why the Netherlands, which has battled the sea for centuries, is now building floating houses on its coast-
MARC VAN OMMEN, ABC AKENBOUW, NETHERLANDS: People living on the water in a home that will rise with the water fluctuation as well. So they should be pretty safe.
THOMPSON: -to prepare for the impact of climate change. Now, beyond just the lack of summer sea ice, scientists also point to some other things happening around the planet. The increased melting of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, earlier springs-
(Interrupted by background noise)
-and I'm sorry I've been disturbed by the siren. And, and all of those things, are certain things that are happening, that they say it doesn't matter what's in those e-mails, the Earth is changing. Meredith?
VIEIRA: Yeah but the controversy will certainly continue. Anne Thompson, thank you so much.
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens
Geoffrey Dickens is the Deputy Research Director at the Media Research Center.