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NY Times editor admits to bias in climate reporting

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For most people on the right, the debate over liberal bias in the mainstream media has long been settled. But very few folks receiving a MSM paycheck are willing to admit what conservatives consider obvious: that there is a left-wing slant to news reporting. Editorial pages are what they are, but news reporting should be straight-up -- facts are facts, "truth has no agenda," etc.

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In a refreshing bit of candor, New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan admitted to Media Matters that her paper has taken to using "denier" rather than "skeptic" when reporting on people who don't buy into man-made global warming:

New York Times public editor Margaret Sullivan believes the paper is making progress when it comes to using the more accurate term "denier" -- rather than "skeptic" -- to refer to those who reject the scientific consensus on climate change.

In an interview with Media Matters, Sullivan described "denier" as the "stronger term" and the appropriate label "when someone is challenging established science." Sullivan said that "the Times is moving in a good direction" on the issue, adding that the newspaper is using the term "denier" more often and "perhaps should be doing it even more."

This isn't the first time Sullivan has addressed the skeptic/denier word-choice fight. In a May 7 blog post, she wrote of a letter she'd received from members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry -- apparently the self-ordained keepers of the word "skeptic":

I heard this week from members of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, a group of scientists, writers, and academics who “promote scientific inquiry and critical investigation,” and Forecast the Facts, a 170,000-member organization that “supports factual accuracy in climate reporting.”

They offered praise for The Times’s reporting on climate change but there’s something they don’t like:

"According to our review of your published content between December 23, 2014 and March 23, 2015, your newspaper accurately described climate change deniers as 'deniers' in 18 articles but inaccurately called them 'skeptics' in 9 articles. We define climate change deniers as individuals or groups who deny the basic science of climate change: that it is real and it is man-made."

Sullivan admits in that column that word choice in these types of reports "matters a great deal." And she concludes that this effort to liken skeptics of global warming climate change fearmongering to Holocaust deniers is a significant decision for Times editors:

[T]he readers are right to watch these choices carefully. The difference between skeptic and denier ... may seem minor, but it’s really not. Simply put, words matter.

But remember, there's no bias in the Times' news reporting.

Follow Chris Field (@ChrisMField) on Twitter.

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