AP Style Guide Warns Against Legitimizing Climate Skeptics

New edition of journalist handbook targets global warming 'doubters,' pro-lifers, and immigration hawks

by Thomas Richard | Updated 12 Jul 2017 at 7:16 AM

The 2017 Associated Press (AP) yearly style guide is out, and it boasts numerous changes where the wire service again favors liberal biases over impartiality or conservative ideals. This is most telling in areas of abortion, illegal immigrants, terrorism, guns, and climate change.

The AP Stylebook is ostensibly a middle-of-the-road guide that most journalists can rely on for universal rules on grammar, punctuation, capitalization, and word choice. Yet with each edition, AP’s covert bias becomes more pronounced, none more so than this year.

Even climate change has been updated. Having previously told journalists to refer to global warming as “climate change” and to call climate change skeptics “doubters,” AP is ready to move on and squash the climate resistance once and for all.

In the new edition, the AP Stylebook tells journalists to stop calling climate change skeptics "deniers." It tells writers to "describe those who don't accept climate science or dispute that the world is warming from man-made forces" and "use climate change doubters or those who reject mainstream climate science. Avoid use of skeptics or deniers."

But above all, never use the word "skeptic," the guide warns. Skepticism is one of the very cornerstones that science is built upon. Calling someone a skeptic invites discussion and tells the reader that other people don't subscribe to all tenets of global warming theory. In an attempt to dismiss skeptics, writers and editors use the pejorative term "deniers" in copy in both print and web.

The new entry also includes a lengthy dissection on why man-made global warming is backed up by verifiable, accurate substantiation. Sounding like PolitiFact, AP instructs journalists that climate change theory is now fact and man-made warming is the consensus belief. But there's no such thing as consensus in science, and climate change theory changes weekly.

Yet despite that none of the catastrophic global warming predictions are coming true, AP is as resolute as ever in its issuance of these stylistic guidelines. Writers, meet your new science overlords.

Most journalists, especially those at The New York Times and Washington Post, went out of their way to call Scott Pruitt a climate denier when President Donald Trump first nominated him as EPA administrator.

After first running a rather benign, well-informed online article about the announcement, The Times' bias police descended from grappling hooks and rewrote the headline to include the words 'climate denier' and surreptitiously added a new paragraph detailing Pruitt's alleged links to Big Oil.

The slanted edits were uncovered by The Daily Caller. The outlet caught the online revisions via screen captures.

Bias is rewriting an article without telling your readers as to paint the subject as a climate change denier. Not a doubter. Not someone who doesn't hold mainstream climate views. A denier.

This occurs with alacrity even after The Times said it would work on its bias after botching its 2016 election coverage.

Among other items on AP's hit list: writers being told that phrases such as "pro-life" should be changed to "anti-abortion." And never use the word "abortionist." That "connotes a person who performs clandestine abortions."

"Illegal immigrants," "aliens," and "undocumented" are also unacceptable. AP is a bit foggy on whether the term "illegal resident" is okay, as the term could also apply to squatters or even homeless people. Maybe "unlisted inhabitants" would be less controversial.

Oops. "Controversial" is considered an "overused word" and should be avoided whenever possible.

There are clear instances where AP shows an animus toward conservative ideals and dissenting views, yet it makes clear that writers should avoid doing the same. Great advice that writers and AP should follow.

Thomas Richard is a freelance writer living outside of Boston, Massachusetts. He's also the managing editor of the site Climate Change Dispatch.

  1. media
  2. abortion
  3. ap
  4. climate-change
  5. global-warming
  6. illegal-immigration
  7. immigration
  8. media-bias
  9. pro-life
  10. style
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