Heartland Replies (Again) to Media Matters

Published May 1, 2015

On April 29, 2015, Media Matters, a front group and spin machine for the Democratic Party, released another error-filled essay about The Heartland Institute, this one by Andrew Siefter complaining about mainstream media coverage of our presence at a Vatican workshop on global warming held in Rome the previous day. You can read all about that project here.

Siefter reports our presence was covered somewhat accurately by The New York TimesThe Washington Post, Reuters, and NPR, and as usual inaccurately by the execrable Guardian (a socialist London tabloid). He fails to mention our presence also was reported with widely varying degrees of accuracy and sympathy by American Spectator, Associated Press, BrietbartChristian Science MonitorClimateWireDaily CallerInternational Business TimesNational Catholic RegisterNational Catholic ReporterNational ReviewScientific AmericanThe TelegraphThe Independent, Townhall.com, USA TodayVatican Insider, and probably hundreds or even thousands of other print and online outlets.

Siefter’s complaint is that The New York TimesThe Washington Post, Reuters, and NPR didn’t replay Media Matters’ talking points about global warming realists: that they are all shills of the fossil fuel industry, that “‘the vast majority of scientists … hold that climate change is induced by human activity'” (quoting a different story in The New York Times), and therefore global warming realists do not deserve to be heard in the debate over climate change.

Honest reporters don’t repeat Media Matters’ talking points because they are all wrong, refuted so many times by us here at The Heartland Institute (see here and here) and by other prominent and respected sources that it is a bit depressing to have to repeat it all once again. But one more time just for the record:

* Global warming realists, including those affiliated with The Heartland Institute, do not deny climate change, climate science, or even that humans have some effect on the climate. They only argue the human impact is too small or too improbable to justify the sweeping economic policies called for by the left. Climate change is not a crisis.

* Ideology doesn’t determine the views of global warming realists; honesty and real data do. Conservatives and libertarians are more likely than liberals to “look under the hood” at the science driving the global warming movement because they don’t like the direction that vehicle is taking the world. When they do, they discover great uncertainty over the causes and consequences of climate change. If liberals paused for a moment and actually looked at the science, they too would quickly become “skeptics.” Alas, most don’t and never will. It’s called “confirmation bias.”

* Funding sources don’t determine the views of global warming realists, either. Think tanks like The Heartland Institute have policies in place that immunize its researchers from the influence of donors. (Groups on the left, such as Center for American Progress, which created Media Matters, apparently do not.) There is no proof – none – of a scientist ever being paid by the fossil fuel industry to lie or deceive the public about climate science. Check out the source of that myth here.

* Siefter devotes special attention to The Heartland Institute’s funding, so let’s talk about that. Contributions from the fossil fuel industry comprise less than 5 percent of The Heartland Institute’s budget. Media Matters knows this because Peter Gleick, a disgraced former scientist, stole our budget in 2012 and sent it to Media Matters and his other liberal buddies (along with a fake “strategy memo” he has yet to confess to writing) to post on the Internet for all to see. Exxon hasn’t contributed in nearly a decade and once again never gave more than 5 percent of our annual budget. The “Koch brothers” contributed just $25,000 in the past 15 years, and even that small grant was for our work on health care reform, not global warming.

* There is no “scientific consensus” on the causes or consequences of climate change. Claims of a “97% consensus” or “98% consensus” are bogus, based on surveys that ask the wrong questions or deliberately exclude scientists known to be skeptical of alarmist predictions, or abstract-counting exercises that are contradicted by examination of the actual peer-reviewed literature. One thing is certain: Most scientists do not believe man-made global warming is a crisis.

Global warming realists have a right to be heard, just as do alarmists. It is yellow journalism and a violation of journalistic ethics to censor one side in a debate with major social and economic consequences. People who call for biased coverage of the global warming debate, such as Andrew Siefter and his colleagues at Media Matters, are behaving unethically. They, not global warming realists, ought to be excluded from the public arena.