Bias 101: How to Impugn the Credibility of an Inconvenient Expert

John at Power Line has an excellent post documenting just how a left-wing reporter can use neutral-sounding language to make a casual observer doubt the credibility of a leading global warming skeptic:

Sometimes media bias is blatant and grotesque; it can extend to flat misrepresentations, use of fake documents, etc. Much more often, it is relatively subtle, as reporters push their version of a story in small ways, day after day. Here is a textbook example, via Power Line News.

Yesterday, in an interview with the Associated Press, one of the world's leading weather experts, Dr. William Gray, blasted Al Gore for perpetrating global warming hysteria. Since Dr. Gray is generally recognized as the world's leading expert in the science of forecasting hurricanes, this is news. But let's examine how the AP handled it in the article that resulted from their interview. The AP begins in a straightforward manner:

A top hurricane forecaster called Al Gore "a gross alarmist" Friday for making an Oscar-winning documentary about global warming.

"He's one of these guys that preaches the end of the world type of things. I think he's doing a great disservice and he doesn't know what he's talking about," Dr. William Gray said in an interview with The Associated Press at the National Hurricane Conference in New Orleans, where he delivered the closing speech.

But watch where the story goes from there. First the subtle demeaning of the distinguished Dr. Gray:

Gray, an emeritus professor at the atmospheric science department at Colorado State University, has long railed against the theory that heat-trapping gases generated by human activity are causing the world to warm.

Gray is implicitly depicted as a crank; he "rails." Note that the hysterical and ill-informed Gore never "rails." Further, Gray "has long railed," which suggests that, rather than being a consistent critic of an unproven theory, he is a tiresome eccentric whose views have been heard and discounted. More on this later. The AP continues:

Gray's statements came the same day the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change approved a report that concludes the world will face dire consequences to food and water supplies, along with increased flooding and other dramatic weather events, unless nations adapt to climate change.

As we have noted elsewhere, the U.N.'s IPCC is a political body, not a scientific one, and its findings have been subject to withering criticism. But the AP implies that the U.N's report represents a scientific consensus.

Read the rest.

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