MSNBC labeled global warming skeptic Gray a "top meteorologist"

››› ››› ROB DIETZ

MSNBC Live hosts Mika Brzezinski and Contessa Brewer each described as a "top meteorologist" William M. Gray, who has stated that global warming "is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people." Both also noted Gray's claim that rising temperatures "are simply part of a natural cycle," but neither noted that the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree with that assertion and have concluded that global climate change is caused by human activity.

During the 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. ET hours of MSNBC Live on October 15, hosts Mika Brzezinski and Contessa Brewer, respectively, described as a "top meteorologist" William M. Gray, professor emeritus of atmospheric science at Colorado State University, who has stated that global warming "is one of the greatest hoaxes ever perpetrated on the American people." Both Brzezinski and Brewer then noted that Gray "is slamming [former Vice President] Al Gore" and quoted Gray's remarks at the University of North Carolina, where he reportedly said that "[w]e're brainwashing our children" with information about global warming. Both Brzezinski and Brewer noted Gray's claim that rising temperatures "are simply part of a natural cycle," but neither noted that the overwhelming majority of scientists disagree with Gray's claim and agree that global climate change is caused by human activity, as Media Matters for America has documented. The blog Think Progress also noted MSNBC's coverage of Gray's comments.

On April 26, 2006, RealClimate.org, which describes itself as "a commentary site on climate science by working climate scientists for the interested public and journalists," responded to a paper written by Gray by detailing "the fundamental misconceptions on the physics of climate that underlie most of Gray's pronouncements on climate change and its causes" and "the gaping flaws" in his "scientific argument." A June 11, 2006, article in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported that Judith A. Curry, chair of Georgia Tech's School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences, said that "Gray's message that global warming is a hoax is being heard because of his media connections, but she [Curry] points out he has not published any research to back it up." The article quoted Curry saying: "His ideas on global warming are not taken seriously in scientific circles." Additionally, a May 28, 2006, Washington Post Magazine article by Joel Achenbach reported that Gray "concede[d] that he hasn't published the idea [his theory about recent warming trends] in any peer-reviewed journal." Achenbach also noted that Gray's rejection of climate models puts him "increasingly on the fringe" in the field of meteorology. When Achenbach "ask[ed] Gray who his intellectual soul mates are regarding global warming," Gray responded, "I have nobody really to talk to about this stuff.'" In the article, Gray was quoted as saying, "Gore believed in global warming almost as much as Hitler believed there was something wrong with the Jews."

Further, neither Brzezinski nor Brewer noted that United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change disagrees with Gray's claim that rising temperatures "are simply part of a natural cycle." Brewer aired Gray's comments before noting that "Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the chairman of a U.N. panel made up of 2,000 scientists and experts." However, Brewer described the U.N. panel as simply "also studying the human race's effect on climate change" without noting the panel's recent conclusions that the evidence that the earth's climate is warming is "unequivocal" and that most of the observed warming is due to human influences.

From the 10 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on October 15:

BRZEZINSKI: One of the world's top meteorologists is slamming Al Gore and the claim that humans contribute to global warming. Every year, Dr. William Gray releases a hurricane forecast. He believes warming temperatures are simply part of a natural cycle.

Dr. Gray says, quote, "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie and being fed all this. It's ridiculous. We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was." Well, so far, no comment from Al Gore.

While we're at it, hey, Jackie, where are we on Dr. Gray's hurricane predictions?

JACKIE MERETSKY (meteorologist): He certainly gave An Inconvenient Truth the cold shoulder.

BRZEZINSKI: He sure did.

MERETSKY: Definitely reminding people that apparently there is a debate on some of the issues related to global warming. So his numbers, Mika, not too far off thus far. He came along and downgraded some of the numbers in October, saying we'd have 17 named storms. We've had 14, so if his numbers are right, that means we'll get another three storm systems.

We've had seven -- he said -- predicted seven hurricanes in October, and thus far, we have had four. So, hurricane season takes us till the end of November, November 30th. We still have six weeks of potential activity. So his numbers thus far are fairly close, but let's not forget what happened last year, Mika, when everyone predicted a lot more hurricane activity than what actually happened.

BRZEZINSKI: Yeah. But his predictions not too bad at this point.

MERETSKY: Not too bad at this point.

BRZEZINSKI: OK.

MERETSKY: Of course, we don't want any more named storm systems.

BRZEZINSKI: No, we don't. Jackie, thank you very much.

From the 11 a.m. ET hour of MSNBC Live on October 15:

BREWER: All right. We want to show you first a top meteorologist who is slamming Al Gore for promoting what he calls the ridiculous claim that humans are responsible for global warming. Dr. William Gray says the temperature increase has been minor. He claims warming is just part of a natural cycle, and he told a lecture crowd at the University of North Carolina, quote, "We're brainwashing our children. They're going to the Gore movie and being fed all this. It's ridiculous. We'll look back on all of this in 10 or 15 years and realize how foolish it was."

Now, Al Gore has not commented on Gray's remarks. It should be noted that Gore shared the Nobel Peace Prize with the chairman of a U.N. panel made up of 2,000 scientists and experts also studying the human race's effect on climate change.

Posted In
Environment & Science, Climate Change
Network/Outlet
MSNBC
Show/Publication
MSNBC Live
We've changed our commenting system to Disqus.
Instructions for signing up and claiming your comment history are located here.
Updated rules for commenting are here.