The new study, “Balance as Bias: Global Warming and the U.S. Prestige Press,” examined coverage of human contributions to global warming in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Wall Street Journal from 1988 to 2002 to assess how scientific findings were conveyed to readers.

“By giving equal time to opposing views, these newspapers significantly downplayed scientific understanding of the role humans play in global warming,” said researcher Maxwell T. Boykoff

They also note the role of concerted “disinformation” campaigns funded by carbon-based industries that catered to journalists’ need to represent opposing viewpoints.

The Boykoffs found that in 1989 and 1990, government officials, armed with the assertions of skeptics, surpassed scientists as the most cited source in prestige-press articles. Calling for more research as a precursor to taking mandatory action, these politicians contributed to coverage that indicated an even split within the scientific community, at a time of general agreement among scientists about the existence of anthropogenic influences on global warming.

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