"In the past several years, a number of polls have documented the huge gap between liberals and conservatives when it comes to their acceptance of the science of climate change. Naturally, then, researchers have increasingly turned their attention to trying to explain this dramatic divide over what is factually true. And it wasn't long before they homed in on the role of conservative media in particular -- thus, a number of studies show that watching Fox News increases your risk of holding incorrect beliefs about the science of climate change."
"Now, a new paper just out in the journal Public Understanding of Science takes this line of inquiry further, beginning to unpack precisely how conservative media work to undermine the public's acceptance of science. The paper shows that a distrust of climate scientists is a significant factor underlying the modern denial of global warming, and moreover, that watching Fox News and listening to Rush Limbaugh both increase one's level of distrust of these scientific experts. Or as the paper puts it, '[C]onservative media use decreases trust in scientists which, in turn, decreases certainty that global warming is happening.'
The study, conducted by Jay Hmielowski of the University of Arizona and colleagues at several other universities, relied on a large polling sample of Americans in two phases: 2,497 individuals were interviewed in 2008, and then a smaller sample of 1,036 were reinterviewed in 2011. The respondents were asked about what kind of media they consumed—conservative choices included Fox News and the Rush Limbaugh Show; 'non-conservative' media outlets included CNN, MSNBC, National Public Radio, and network news—as well as about how much they trusted or distrusted climate scientists. They were also asked about their belief that global warming is happening. (The study controlled for variables like political ideology, religiosity, and other demographic factors.)"