An interesting post at American meteorologist Anthony Watts’ climate change and global warming blog, Watt’s Up With That, points to a devastating example of not just media bias but actual false reporting and quote fabrication in an effort to turn a press release on the discovery of a hybrid shark by some marine biology researchers in Australia into a testament on climate change and global warming. Watts appropriately and cleverly headlines his story as “Media 101- How To Jump a Shark.” Here’s the gist of it:
A group of scientists I presume to be marine biologists conducting research in waters off of Australia issued a press release that contained the following headline:
World’s first discovery of hybrid sharks off Australia’s east coast
The press release discussed how it is thought the hybrid sharks might have come about, and buried in the statement were these two sentences by Dr Jennifer Ovenden:
“Hybridisation could enable the sharks to adapt to environmental change as the smaller Australian black tip currently favours tropical waters in the north.
“While the larger common black tip is more abundant in sub-tropical and temperate waters along the south-eastern Australian coastline.”
The Christian Science Monitor promptly printed a story under this headline:
New Hybrid Sharks Discovered: Signs of Global Warming?
The story then characterized Dr. Ovenden’s statement from the press release this way:
Ovenden speculated that the two species began mating in response to environmental change, as the hybrid blacktips are able to travel further south to cooler waters than the Australian blacktips. The team is looking into climate change and human fishing, among other potential triggers.
Nowhere in Dr. Ovenden’s statement or in the remainder of the press release do the words “global warming” or “climate change” appear. Dr. Ovenden’s statement that hybridization could enable sharks to adapt to environmental change was morphed into a claim that she had speculated inter-species mating began in response to environmental change, that it was a sign of global warming, and an affirmative statement that the researchers are looking into climate change as a potential trigger for it. The press release itself clearly shows that Dr. Ovenden said none of those things.
The Business Insider then tried to mischaracterize the substance of the press release that says nothing about climate change or global warming with this headline:
The World’s First Hybrid Shark is Another Scary Sign That Global Warming is Real
In the body of the story Reporter Dina Spector engages in quote fabrication and “jumps the shark” with these sentences purporting to be actual quotes by researcher Jess Morgan:
According to lead researcher Jess Morgan, the hybridization might be a sign that the animals are adapting to rising temperature levels as a result of climate change.
A reader who may have read the press release itself sent an email to Dr. Jessica Morgan asking her if the quote in the Business Insider story by Dina Spector was accurate and got this reply:
Quote not correct – I have now stated numerous times that it is extremely unlikely that climate change caused the hybridization event – however, the hybrid-Australian blacktips are now being seen further south of their known range (Australain blacktips have a tropical distribution) in cooler waters suggesting that the hybrids may have a wider temperature tolerance than their parents (ie the hybrids may be better adapted to handle changing water temperatures). That long statement is being condensed and printed as your quote below.
Headlines that exaggerate and distort, quote fabrication by journalists, it all leaves no doubt that much of what is passed off as journalism today is political propaganda, especially all the hooey on “global warming” and “climate change.” Everything that happens anywhere is attributed to global warming or, because there may not be any actual warming going on, to “climate change.” Distortions by headline writers have long been a way to slant, contort and twist the news. They know it works because many people will never read beyond the headline. It used to be if you read the story you’d find something in the story, probably at the very end, to reveal the headline as misleading. Nowadays maybe not. They just lie all the way through in case you read it all. You have to go to the source itself now, in essence you have to do your own reporting, to see how the “journalists” are brainwashing you.
Anthony Watts blog is heralded to be the world’s most viewed site on global warming and climate change. I’ve found it to be informative and helpful, and I trust it.