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News & Perspective from the Center for Environmental Journalism
This item was posted on August 13, 2010, and it was categorized as CNN, Climate Change, False Balance.
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media-memory-hole

At the end of July, CNN ran an article online about the recent NOAA report documenting how specific, climate-related indicators all point in the same direction: toward an increasingly warmer world.

The problem was that the article was originally published by Financial Times, and it was egregiously guilty of false balance. As I and others pointed out in blog postings, even though the NOAA report was based on the work of more than 300 scientists from 160 research groups in 48 countries, the FT/CNN article about it devoted more than half the space to a response from climate skeptics.

Well, guess what? The link to that article on CNN.com is now dead. Click it and you get “page not found.” Why did CNN take it down?

I wouldn’t be suspicious if this was the first time that something like this had happened. It’s not.

In December, CNN ran a series called “Global Warming: Trick or Truth,” prompted by the so-called “Climategate” email controversy. One particular segment hosted by Campbell Brown was particularly egregious, pitting Bill Nye the Science Guy against Patrick Michaels to do the usual entertaining talking heads thing. In the process, CNN created a complete mess in which the science and the politics of climate change got mixed up together. I blogged critically about it, and not long thereafter the video disappeared. (Here’s a link to my blog post: http://www.cejournal.net/?p=2514 You’ll find the CNN video there, but you won’t find it on CNN. As I said, it’s gone.)

I also wouldn’t be suspicious if CNN routinely took down all of its archived videos. But I just searched the CNN site using the terms “bill nye patrick michaels” and came up with another segment pitting Nye and Michaels against each other.  I’m not aware of any blogospheric criticism of that segment. That’s probably because the interview with Anderson Cooper stuck more to the email messages themselves and their significance. It wasn’t a “yes or no” debate about the science between talking heads, unlike the Campbell Brown interview, which mixed more of that silliness into the program.

So is CNN removing stuff that attracts criticism from a few prickly bloggers? I don’t know. But I am suspicious.
If they pulled bad stuff and then ran an editor’s note explaining how they got it wrong, I’d be all for it. That would be the professional thing to do. Instead, CNN seems to want its mistakes to disappear down the memory hole.
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