Media’s Hurricane Predictions Fall Flat

Wednesday's Example of Media Bias   —   Posted on December 11, 2013

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-Read the media bias example below (from a Dec. 4 post by Kristine Marsh at BusinessandMedia.org).
-Read "Types of Media Bias" here or in the right column. Then answer the questions.

From a post by KristineMarsh at businessandmedia.org (original post date 12/4/13):
Hurricane season ended Nov. 30, with an all time-low for hurricanes.  The weak outcome didn’t fit the environmental disaster narrative the media had [presented] leading up to hurricane season. ABC, NBC and CBS devoted broadcasts to scaring viewers with news of [a very bad hurricane season]. But they became strangely silent once the season finished … and next to nothing had happened.

image1199NOAA* predictions of “more and stronger hurricanes” this season [were widely reported]. In May, forecasters predicted seven to 11 Atlantic hurricanes, but the area only saw two storms become hurricanes. In fact, there were no hurricanes until September 11 this year, almost beating the 2002 record for the latest start to the hurricane season on record. [*The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is a scientific agency within the Department of Commerce focused on the conditions of the oceans and the atmosphere. NOAA warns of dangerous weather, charts seas and skies, guides the use and protection of ocean and coastal resources, and conducts research to improve understanding and stewardship of the environment. ]

CBS and NBC each gave a passing mention to the end of hurricane season on their evening news shows, Nov. 30. ABC didn’t even bother to report on the topic. None of the three networks admitted that the preseason predictions were up to 450 percent higher than actually occurred.

CBS devoted a mere 24 seconds to the underwhelming update. “U.S. forecasters overestimated hurricane activity this year. The 2013 Atlantic hurricane season ended today. Between 6 and 9 hurricanes were initially predicted, and we ended up with just 2 storm systems reaching hurricane strength. Just one of those made landfall in the United States, which means this was the calmest season in 31 years.”

NBC’s Lester Holt spent 20 seconds on the “Nightly News” Nov. 30, almost disappointedly reporting, “Hurricane season ended with pretty much of a ‘no show.’ This was as bad as it got… And neither of those hurricanes made it to the United States.”

Just a few months before though, reporters [presented numerous reports] of increased hurricanes and “extreme weather” which they always linked to global warming.

NBC’s broadcast on May 25 warned of the catastrophe that would ensue this year, complete with global warming activists as its chosen “experts.” Reporter John Yang ominously stated, “Devastating tornados, searing heat waves, withering droughts and related wildfires, and powerful hurricanes.” Yang went on to call 2012, “the hottest on record.” Then he made the global warming link. “Why all this severe weather? Government scientists say it’s partly the result of man-made climate change.”

CBS wasn’t much better. In May, it declared it “could be another dangerous year along the East Coast,” and then brought on a climate change activist who said, “it [climate change] is one” of the causes of hurricanes.

ABC similarly did its own “extreme weather” stories, such as on June 24, where it connected Hurricane Sandy to climate change. “Scientists say human-caused climate change is already helping shift the planet’s natural balance.”

But this is nothing new. The media tried to pin most every natural disaster on global warming this year, from Hurricane Sandy, to the Oklahoma tornado last Spring, to the two Atlantic hurricanesthis Fall. After Hurricane Sandy hit last October, the media spent a whole year hyping the “superstorm’s” impact as an effect of man-made global warming.

The media’s story isn’t actually consistent with reality though. According to climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama Huntsville: “We’ve looked at hurricanes starting in the 1850s. There is no trend in hurricanes. In fact, if you look at the last seven years, there has not been single major hurricane hit the United States. This is the longest period of such a dearth of hurricanes in that entire record.”

 The Washington Post has even admitted that “it’s not accurate to associate any particular season (and definitely not a specific storm) with climate change. One season’s activity does not allow any conclusions about the role of climate change.” …

Instead of reporting the truth, the networks choose to ignore it (ABC) or mention it in passing, hoping their audiences have forgotten their earlier dire warnings (CBS and NBC.) Instead of using a wide range of experts, who hold varying beliefs on the legitimacy of global warming, man-made or otherwise, the news networks have only presented one, incredibly polarized opinion, as truth. Meteorologists like NBC’s Al Roker even scoff openly at the idea that any other view could be legitimate.

Questions

1.  According to climatologist Dr. John Christy of the University of Alabama Huntsville: “We’ve looked at hurricanes starting in the 1850s. … if you look at the last seven years, there has not been single major hurricane hit the United States. This is the longest period of such a dearth of hurricanes in that entire record.”
What obligation do the networks (ABC, NBC, CBS) have to follow-up on their earlier news reports predicting a bad hurricane season with the news that this was instead a very quiet year?

2.  Do you think this excerpt is an example of media bias?  Explain your answer. 


Scroll down to the bottom of the page for the answers.
























Answer(s)

1. and 2. Opinion questions. Answers vary.