CNN’s Piers Morgan has fallen into the same “balance trap” that ensnared PBS several months ago, when he decided to “balance” an interview on climate change with Bill Nye by giving a microphone to Marc Morano. Morano is a longtime skeptic of climate change, and a former communications director for noted climate change denier Republican Senator James Inhofe.
Morano, who is the chief correspondent and executive director of the industry-funded blog Climate Depot, was allowed to tell Morgan’s audience that the last two decades have actually provided no evidence that climate change is taking place – a point which Nye was able to disprove with the facts.
From Media Matters:
Offering two “viewpoints” about temperature data and suggesting that scientific facts are up for “debate” is misleading in and of itself. During the segment, Morano claimed that we “have gone 16 years without global warming according to UN data.” Nye pushed back, saying “This will be the hottest two decades in history, in recorded history. So when you throw around a statement like the UN says it's not the hottest 20 years, I got to disagree with you.”
Morano, who at one time was referred to as “Rush Limbaugh’s man in Washington,” was completely unable to back up any of his claims with facts, statistics, or any form of evidence. Nye, on the other hand, used concrete figures that are accepted widely within the scientific community.
Piers Morgan failed to inform his viewers that Morano has absolutely no scientific training, or about the fact that his organization has been funded by dirty energy industry heavy hitters like Exxon Mobil.
Update via MediaMatters: In a blog highlighting the segment, CNN claims it invited “a pair of experts” to discuss climate change, without noting that Morano has no scientific expertise. The blog says Morano “presented an alternate theory regarding the impact, and concern, associated with carbon dioxide,”ignoring that the vast majority of scientists agree that carbon dioxide emissions are driving global warming and that the public should be worried about the impacts of it.
Watch the Piers Morgan segment with Morano and Nye, via MediaMatters:
This “balance trap” is actually a concept that Bill Nye himself brought up on CNN a few months ago:
“I appreciate that we want to show two sides of the stories — there’s a tradition in journalism that goes back quite a ways, I guess — but the two sides aren’t equal here. You have tens of thousands of scientists who are very concerned and you have a few people who are in business of equating or drawing attention to the idea that uncertainty is the same as doubt. When you have a plus or minus percentage, that’s not the same thing as not believing the whole thing at all… We in the science education community chip away at this problem all the time. We have an enormous population of people in the United States that don’t believe in evolution, the fundamental idea in all of life science. It would be like saying, I don’t believe in earthquakes or something. The analogies are disturbing.”
Nye is absolutely correct. There are not two sides to the climate change “debate.” There are facts and reams of solid science, and there are a range of misinformers and deniers peddling shoddy science and a tiny number of contrarian studies, and the two should never be considered equal.