A new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists found CNN and Fox News sorely lacking in their reporting of climate change. Fox covered climate change a bit more than CNN in 2013 but its 28% accuracy rate was way below CNN’s 70% rate. MSNBC beat them both.
The findings were part of a report called, “Science or Spin?: Assessing the Accuracy of Cable News Coverage of Climate Science.” Its conclusions about Fox: "Misleading Most of the Time."
The report states:
Fox News was the least accurate; 72 percent of its 2013 climate science-related segments contained misleading statements. CNN was in the middle, with about a third of segments featuring misleading statements. MSNBC was the most accurate, with only eight percent of segments containing misleading statements.
The public deserves climate coverage that gets the science right. Media outlets can do more to foster a fact-based conversation about climate change and policies designed to address it, rather than contributing to a broken and inaccurate debate about the established facts of climate science.
Think Progress waded into the weeds:
The nature of the misleading statements differed from station to station, with CNN’s inaccuracy growing from debate guests who doubted certain aspects of climate science, such as the relationship between climate change and extreme weather. Fox hosts and guests, on the other hand, would more often accuse climate scientists of hiding or misrepresenting data, and were also more likely to state outright that climate change was not occurring. Accurate coverage of climate science on Fox came primarily from Special Report with Bret Baier and The O’Reilly Factor, and despite being the least-accurate of the three networks according to the report, Fox’s 28 percent accuracy rating is an increase from a 2012 UCS report, which found that Fox was accurate just 7 percent of the time.
MSNBC contained misleading coverage from the opposite side of the spectrum, with hosts sometimes overstating how fast sea levels are rising or making links between things that aren’t yet scientifically known, such as climate change’s effects on tornadoes.
Aaron Huertas, science communications officer at UCS, told ThinkProgress that the differences in accuracy among the networks were largely a result of sourcing. When CNN did have accurate coverage, they relied on federal and academic scientists, with their misleading coverage coming mostly from debates that featured ideological guests.
So, while both Fox and MSNBC presented the subject from an ideological framework, MSNBC did so while remaining largely truthful. Fox News, on the other hand, clearly placed ideology above truth. It's worth remembering this the next time someone tries to paint MSNBC as the liberal equivalent of Fox News.