Journalism in Jeopardy
The greatest gift the United States has given the world is freedom of speech and of the press. It is a guaranteed right sanctioned by government found in our Constitution.
An unbiased media presenting all the facts openly and fairly is the linchpin of democracy. It is the oil lubricating a citizenry to make fair evaluation of facts presented them.
Inject political prejudice into public discourse and America’s most sacred contribution is at peril. That is especially true in an election year.
Here is a sad example of the amazing effort to which a biased media sometimes sinks to push their own political agenda…
The Oregon Petition
Two nights ago PBS Frontline did a special by John Hockenberry on the global warming debate called Climate of Doubt. It wasn’t about global warming so much as it was about the politics behind global warming skeptics. It was generally very well done. The politics was examined in intimate detail.
One of those intimate details is The Oregon Petition.
Hockenberry was questioning global warming skeptic, Dr. Fred Singer. During questioning Singer said a report by the NAS attributing global warming to human activity was false.
Recalling a study claiming that a consensus 97% of all scientists believe global warming is human-caused, Hockenberry said:
So its 97% of them and one of you.
– John Hockenberry, PBS Frontline, 10/13/2012
Singer responded saying there were 31,000 scientists and engineers that signed a petition – the Oregon Petition – agreeing with him and urging the U.S. government not sign the Kyoto Accord.
The Subtle Deception
Hockenberry went on to denigrate the Oregon Petition. During a voice over showing the above graphic on-screen Hockenberry said:
The 14 year old petition is not exactly an exclusive club, a bachelor of science degree is all it takes to get you on the list. This document skeptics claim counters the scientific consensus on global warming.
– John Hockenberry, Climate of Doubt, 10/13/2012
By that standard I could have signed it. Hockenberry said just about anyone, including celebrities, signed it. He implied it was rubbish.
The on-screen graphic he used above contains a blurred signature I highlighted in yellow. That is done with Photoshop. I know, I’ve applied artistic blurring to countless photographs.
Here is the undoctored version of that document showing a very clear, if not particularly legible signature. It shows how the above image was obviously manipulated.
It could have and should have been shown exactly as is. It would have made no difference. Few, probably including everyone reading this now, would have recognized the signatory.
But Hockenberry knew who it was and that is why he had it obscured.
The signatory is one of the greatest physicists of modern times – Edward Teller. Teller is known as “the father of the atomic bomb”. He was even featured in a PBS special titled, Race for the Superbomb.
Hockenberry has went above and beyond the call of duty to hawk a political belief he shares with most liberals and the President of the United States. They believe human-caused global warming is a threat to the planet.
A contrary fact, like many luminary scientists including Edward Teller and Freeman Dyson don’t subscribe to that belief is actively and purposely suppressed by a biased reporter.
You have to wonder what else Hockenberry did to support his narrative.
Its a tiny, tiny little thing… “What is the big deal?”… you may ask.
That is the point. In and of itself, it isn’t. But it goes to show the incredible lengths that a biased press will resort to push a political agenda.
That cannot and should not ever be tolerated in a free and open society.
In the “about” section of Inform the Pundits! I clearly state:
The news media has institutionalized their left/right biases.
The media contributes greatly to the growing polarization strangling the United States today.
I believe that very strongly. Things like Hockenberry’s premeditated and blatant violation of journalistic ethics is why I started writing in the first place.
With keyboard and clear mind, I’ll correct media distortion wherever found until my last breath.
Update: 10/13/2012 4:30PM PDT
As fate would have it, today there was a live, interactive online discussion sponsored by PBS about their program “Climate of Doubt”:
Inside the Climate Wars
Here is one of the questions:
Comment From Tom Barney
Why did you obscure the signature of a very prominent scientist on the Oregon petition while at the same time implying few credentials were necessary?
Here is the program producer’s official response:
Tom, this was a late stage production decision that was not made on the basis of any one individual signature or to make an editorial point. Our focus was on the requirements for signing the petition. In retrospect however we believe that obscuring the signature was a mistake.