Senate Debates Global Warming, CNN Anchor Snoozes

O'Brien, during a more wakeful moment
As already noted here on NewsBusters, the Senate held a hearing today examining the role of the media in promoting climate alarmism. With others covering the newsmaking part of the discussion, I decided to drop by to observe things from a blogger's point of view.

I went into the hearing expecting it would be more interesting than your typical congressional hearing and wasn't disappointed. Dr. David Deming, a geophysicist from the University of Oklahoma recounted an experience he had with an NPR reporter who hung up on him after he declined to say that he thought global temperature increases were human-caused.

Apparently I was not joined in my assessment of things by CNN "American Morning" anchor Miles O'Brien who fell asleep during the discussion, according to several witnesses. Only a colleague's nudge prevented the slumbering former science correspondent from missing the entire discussion. One would think that O'Brien could have scared up some more interest considering his ongoing feud with Sen. Inhofe. The two have tangled on O'Brien's CNN show and both have denounced each other from their respective platforms.

I also heard some interesting scientific debate as to whether ice core temperature readings can really be used as a reliable indicator of whether carbon dioxide is related to global climate changes. Don't expect to hear much about this, though, since the CO2 proponent, Dr. Daniel Schrag of Harvard, was less-than-articulate arguing the affirmative. As of the writing of this posting, I haven't found a single news source that quoted from today's hearing. I did see and converse with several reporters but so far have yet to read any coverage.

What I did find online, though, was an AP article which briefly mentioned the hearing but quoted no one other than California Democrat Barbara Boxer, the incoming EPW chair. It went out late today and could easily have quoted from any of the Republican members of the committee (or Wednesday's hearing itself) but did not.

In the committee room, it was striking to me just how inept that the global warming alarmists seem to be at making their arguments. While many scientists do indeed take the position that humans' carbon dioxide emissions do cause global warming, they and their political allies seemed quite poor at making their case.

Boxer provided the best example. She began her statement with a grab bag of short, context-less quotations from various businesses and government agencies about how global warming is a humongous problem that needs immediate action. Most of her quotes were from non-scientific groups and were not even about the subject of the media's coverage of climate change, the topic of the hearing.

That's bad enough as a rhetorical device but apparently it wasn't bad enough for Boxer. In the middle of the hearing, she reverted to quoting cue cards of media coverage of the issue, ostensibly to show how the press is not being led by alarmists. Unfortunately for her, though, her quotations (from such bastions of conservatism as the New York Times as the Tulsa World) did just the opposite, at least if you didn't automatically agree with her. When Inhofe and my colleague at the Business and Media Institute Dan Gainor pointed out her problem, Boxer seemed utterly oblivious.

It only got worse for Boxer, though, as she reverted to the soundbites once again (using many of the same ones she'd already quoted previously) at the end of her testimony but with an added twist. Instead of asking the witnesses what they thought about a specific statement, the California Democrat asked them to “raise your hand” if you disagree with one of her out-of-context quotes. At first, hostile witnesses played along but eventually it got so absurd that Dr. Deming finally called her on it.

None of this seemed to bother a reporter from Roll Call with whom I was seated. She seemed decidedly against Inhofe and scoffed whenever he or one of his witnesses would challenge the liberal point of view. I didn't catch her name but I wasn't exactly surprised since besides the fact that most MSM reporters ideologically line up with Democrats, Barbara Boxer did one thing well—framing the hearings as a matter of whether the government was trying to control the news media.

That was far from the case as anyone who wasn't asleep could have observed.

Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield
Matthew Sheffield, creator of NewsBusters and president of Dialog New Media, an internet marketing and design firm, left NewsBusters at the end of 2013