Media

Reporter Suri Crowe Told the Truth About Climate Change — so Right-Wing Sinclair Broadcasting Showed Her the Door

Climate change wasn’t the only reporting done by Crowe were she ruffled the feathers at Sinclair.
Buzzfeed has the story of Suri Crowe, a Virginia reporter who dared to tell the truth about the human cause behind climate change. After her report aired, Crowe was criticized by management and ordered to “balance” her reporting.

In one 2015 instance, the former news director of WSET-TV in Lynchburg, Virginia, Len Stevens, criticized reporter Suri Crowe because she “clearly laid out the argument that human activities cause global warming, but had nothing from the side that questions the science behind such claims and points to more natural causes for such warming.”

The truth is that the groups questioning the science behind such claims have no science to back them up. What they have is a network of “institutes” that consist of nothing but publicity offices funded by fossil fuel companies. Many of them from one single source.

Peabody Energy, America’s biggest coal mining company, has funded at least two dozen groups that cast doubt on man made climate change and oppose environment regulations, analysis by the Guardian reveals.

Crowe bravely, and correctly, replied that there was no need to provide balance by including false information in her reporting. Which resulted in a demand that she include the views of that notable expert, Donald Trump, who was not even the Republican nominee at that point.

Crowe told BuzzFeed News that before the October 2015 climate change segment aired, she was ordered by Stevens to include Donald Trump’s opinion on the matter. 

Eventually, Crowe was forced to read the “balanced” view on-air, including the Trump-favored lies. And after that, she was fired.

Climate change wasn’t the only reporting done by Crowe were she ruffled the feathers at Sinclair. But in her mind, the story she reported was simply factual, with no reason to inject unsupported opinions.

A veteran reporter who has worked at news stations in Texas and Virginia, Crowe said she viewed the story as environmental — not two-sided or political. “I was always covering the flu. I don’t remember a time when for balance I went out to a group of 20 people who are nutjobs that say flu shots kill,” she told BuzzFeed News. The scientific consensus is that climate change is real and humans are largely to blame, but Crowe ultimately read the updated, “balanced” script on air. “That was the moment where I realized how things were going to go there,” she said.

But Crowe didn’t appreciate the level to which, in Trumplandia, there are no non-political reports. Even reports about the flu are political. Crowe’s real problem was that she wasn’t a beginner. While new reporters rolled over to SInclair’s demands and apparently didn’t know that management handing down edicts on how stories to be reported was unusual, Crowe had worked in multiple markets for several years and had the strange idea that her job was to report the truth.

Crowe, for her part, battled with her bosses over political and nonpolitical issues. Younger reporters counted Lynchburg as a “starter” market, but Crowe’s colleagues said she was an outspoken, experienced journalist who wanted to do nationally minded stories. She clashed with management, former employees said, particularly over what exactly constitutes balanced coverage.

Management came down on Crowe for correctly reporting polls showing that most people in Virginia favored more restrictions on gun sales. But had no objections to a story reporting on new pro-gun legislation. All of the “balance” Crowe was asked to do, involved moving stories to the right.

Because that is what Sinclair, and Fox, and Trump mean by balanced. It’s what used to be known as “skewed.”

 

 

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Mark Sumner is the author of the nonfiction work "The Evolution of Everything" as well as several novels including "Devil's Tower."