ABC Hypes High Temperatures in U.S. to Push for Climate Change 'Action,' NBC Misrepresents Data

All three evening newscasts on Tuesday hyped a report that 2012 was the hottest on record for the United States. NBC actually mislead viewers into thinking the data relates to the entire planet and not just one country.  On ABC, Dan Harris blamed the study's results on Congress for failing to take "action" over global warming.

World News reporter Dan Harris lamented, "Many cities had record warmth, including Washington, D.C., where a lack of action on man made climate change is likely to mean 2012 is just a glimpse into an unpleasant future, according to many scientists."  [See video below. MP3 audio here.]  Yet, the New York Times conceded, "Even so, the last year’s record for the United States is not expected to translate into a global temperature record when figures are released in the coming weeks."

At least ABC accurately reported the new information's connection to America. Diane Sawyer began the segment by specifically explaining, "It is official. 2012 was the hottest year in the United States since weather scientists started keeping records."

Over on the NBC Nightly News, correspondent Anne Thompson left out a key point. "2012 was a year of extreme weather and one for the history books," she began. Thompson selectively asserted, "Hotter than any year on record, the results, federal scientists say, of nature and manmade climate change."

Hotter for whom? Though she mentioned "federal scientists," Thompson could have mentioned this study relates only to America.  

On the CBS Evening News, host Scott Pelley was slightly more specific. He noted, "Government scientists said today that they're surprised by a jump in temperature that made 2012 the warmest year on record in the lower 48 states."

Meteorologist Joe Bastardi appeared on the November 1 O'Reilly Factor to rebut the claims that extreme weather in 2012 is a result of global warming:

JOE BASTARDI: In the 1950s, from 1954 to 1960s, ten major hurricanes ran the Eastern Seaboard, six hit the Carolinas northward in two years, in '54, '55, including Connie and Diane, which caused unbelievable flooding in 1955. Hurricane Carol, 1954, 15 feet of water up Naraganset Bay. The 1938 hurricane, which had 186 mile an hour winds gusts at Blue Hill, Massachusetts, blew down two billion trees, caused a 50-foot surge of water across Long Island. If that storm had been 60 miles further west with the landfall at the battery, there would have been 20 feet of water into New York City.

As noted above, the prescription from ABC's Harris seems to be "action" by Washington. Presumably, this would mean a carbon tax. Left unexplained is how will more taxes will lower the temperature?

A transcript of the January 8 World News segment is below:


6:30 tease

DIANE SAWYER: Tinderbox. The historic inferno blazing tonight. And a warning. How Americans should prepare for the new record-breaking heat.

...

DIANE SAWYER: And now we turn to other big news today. It is official. 2012 was the hottest year in the United States since weather scientists started keeping records. And hotter, not by a little, but by a landslide. Tonight, ABC's Dan Harris tells us about this new report and the red flags of warning about extreme heat all across the globe.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN: Oh, man. This is the last you'll see of your shed.

 

DAN HARRIS: The pictures coming out of Australia tonight are apocalyptic. Flames devouring homes, huge black and brown blossoms of smoke. A lone kangaroo hopping through a charred moonscape. Firefighters contending with the worst possible conditions.

UNIDENTIFIED AUSTRALIAN REPORTER #1: These swirling, vicious winds, these soaring temperatures.

UNIDENTIFIED AUSTRALIAN REPORTER #2: These incredible winds are making it that much tougher for firefighters on the front line.

HARRIS: It's so hot, the government had to change its forecast maps, adding new shades of purple for temperatures possibly hitting 130 degrees. Scenes like this are becoming more common. Look at this NASA imagery showing the entire planet has gotten hotter in recent decades. Here in America, 2012 was not only the warmest year on record, but also the second-most extreme, featuring tornadoes, wild fires, a massive drought and, of course, Super storm Sandy. [Harris touring destruction.] The house was there

MAN: Right.

HARRIS: And the water pushed it all the way over here. Many cities had record warmth, including Washington, D.C., where a lack of action on man made climate change is likely to mean 2012 is just a glimpse into an unpleasant future, according to many scientists. So, we shouldn't expect this is the last record?

HEIDI CULLEN (Chief climatologist, Climate Central): This is by no means the last record. I mean, you really got to think of climate change as something that increases our risk for being unlucky. So, we need to prepare up front, as we move into, you know, this warmer, hotter, more extreme world.

HARRIS: So, how do we prepare? Her advice, take stock of where you live and protect your home by doing things like getting a generator, possibly, buying flood insurance, maybe, and possibly even raising up your water heater if it's in the basement. Diane?

SAWYER: And I know you are going to be speaking with an American family going through their house to address just that.

HARRIS: Fascinating.

SAWYER: Thank you so much, Dan. That's in coming days.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org