This past weekend’s “60 Minutes,” the once highly respected and popular CBS newsmagazine, decided to do a scare piece on climate change. The premise: Earth is headed toward a “sixth mass extinction” if we don’t embrace a zero-emissions stance and reject our capitalist society.
To back up these outlandish claims, CBS correspondent Scott Pelley interviewed the discredited biologist Paul Ehrlich, who has predicted about 20 extinctions over the past 60 years, not one of which came to pass.
In 1968, Mr. Ehrlich warned in his book “The Population Bomb” that “the battle to feed all of humanity is over. In the 1970s, hundreds of millions of people will starve to death in spite of any crash programs embarked upon now.”
He added that oceans would be without life by 1979, and by 1999 the U.S. population would plummet to 23 million because of the use of pesticides.
“The death rate will increase until at least 100-200 million people per year will be starving to death during the next ten years,” he predicted in an interview with Mademoiselle in 1970.
Mr. Ehrlich, of course, was fantastically wrong. Modern agriculture enabled a global food system capable of feeding more than 8 billion people. The world’s crude death rate plummeted 37% from 1965-1970 to 2020-2025, and its human population rose from 3.5 billion in 1968 to 8 billion in 2022.
Mr. Pelley did concede that Mr. Ehrlich’s past predictions didn’t pan out but insisted Mr. Ehrlich was right about mankind’s role in the “sixth mass extinction.”
Michael Shellenberger, author of “Apocalypse Never,” quickly called out that farce. To cause a “mass extinction,” humans would need to wipe out between 75% to 90% of all species on Earth. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), by contrast, says that just 6% of species are critically endangered, 9% are endangered, and 12% are vulnerable to becoming endangered, Mr. Shellenberger wrote in a recent blog post.
“Further, the IUCN has estimated that just 0.8% of the 112,432 plant, animal, and insect species within its data set have gone extinct since 1500,” Mr. Shellenberger wrote. “That’s a rate of fewer than two species lost every year for an annual extinction rate of 0.001%.”
So why was Mr. Ehrlich given so much airtime on the longest-running TV newsmagazine in America? Simply because too many journalists have become activists for the left and will interview and elevate any propagandist cloaked in academia, the intelligence establishment or pseudoscience who gives credence to their preconceived narratives — facts (and reputation) be damned.
The same dynamic can be seen with Alejandra Caraballo, a Harvard Law School instructor and transgender rights activist. Because Ms. Caraballo is a prolific tweeter, has Harvard in her bio, and supports so-called gender-affirming care for minors, journalists treat her as an expert on everything from transgender issues and anti-disinformation.
The New York Times and Washington Post repeatedly quote her in their stories promoting sex changes for minors, the right to teach the topic in schools without parental consent, and why biological males should compete against biological females in athletics. She’s also been vocal about how the right’s rhetoric will cause real-world harm and threats to the LGBTQ community.
Yet Ms. Caraballo’s own biases against the right have led her to promote misinformation — repeatedly — proving herself a “source” no self-respecting journalist should cite. When a North Carolina power plant was vandalized last month, Ms. Caraballo insinuated that the act was carried out by right-wing extremists who wanted to cancel a drag event.
“In the days leading up to the event, organizers of the drag event received death threats but vowed to continue on regardless,” Ms. Caraballo tweeted. “Proud Boys and other extremist groups threatened to protest and disrupt the event.”
No such conclusions have been drawn by the police and security agencies who are actually investigating the attack.
Ms. Caraballo has also been caught spreading misinformation about the recent detention of right-wing internet troll Andrew Tate in Romania and the motivations behind the deadly shooting at a gay bar in Colorado in November.
In House testimony last month describing the links between white supremacy and anti-LGBTQ extremism, Ms. Caraballo answered yes when asked by South Carolina Republican Rep. Nancy Mace whether she believed “rhetoric on social media” posed a threat to our democracy. Ms. Mace then confronted Ms. Caraballo with a June 25 tweet she posted after the Supreme Court’s abortion decision overturning Roe v. Wade.
“The 6 justices who overturned Roe should never know peace again. It is our civic duty to accost them every time they are in public,” Ms. Caraballo tweeted. “They are pariahs. Since women don’t have their rights, these justices should never have a peaceful moment in public again.”
Even so, prominent journalists continue to turn to Ms. Caraballo as an objective source. There she was in an NBC News story four days ago in a piece titled “2021 was supposed to be the ‘worst year’ for LGBTQ rights — then came 2022.”
Narrative pushing became the norm in 2016 when journalists took lies from U.S. intelligence agencies at face value and wrote with all seriousness that former President Donald Trump was a Russian asset. After the Russia hoax was debunked, instead of learning their lesson, the same journalists published stories — most likely from the very same sources — on why Hunter Biden’s laptop was Russian disinformation.
None have retracted or apologized for their errors. Instead, the purveyors of that disinformation have been rewarded. Trump-critical former national security figures such as John Brennan and Peter Strzok are both contributors at MSNBC, and James Clapper is CNN’s national security analyst.
It’s no wonder that the American public’s trust in mass media has plummeted in recent years. According to Gallup, 38% of Americans had no trust “at all” in mass media last year, the highest number recorded since 1972.
Take a bow, mainstream media. It’s a poll result that’s well deserved.
• Kelly Sadler is the commentary editor at The Washington Times.
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