A Brief History of Cable Networks Running Faulty Pieces on Shoddy Scientific Studies

By Alex Weprin Comment

The cable news channels, in between covering politics, occasionally cover “light” news, to which journalistic standards seem to be applied only occasionally.

A perfect example: MSNBC’s Contessa Brewer reported on a (fake) German study which suggested that there was a correlation between men who stare at women’s breasts, and having a healthy heart. Even more awkward, the day before Brewer’s MSNBC colleague Willie Geist debunked the same study on “Morning Joe.”

While the MSNBC Screw-up is making news today, fake or misleading “scientific studies” are a fairly common occurrence on cable news.

In December we briefly mentioned a segment on Fox News claiming that Wi-fi signals create “electrosmog” which can make you sick. The study that the report was based on, while not a hoax, was completely wrong.

In January, CNN ran a frightening, hyperbolic segment about the Yellowstone “Super-volcano,” which was also completely wrong. They had Dr. Michio Kaku, a talented physicist and cable news regular, on to talk about it. Apparently CNN was unable to find a geologist, or someone that actually knew what they were talking about, and the result left viewers completely uninformed.

Google “bad science reporting” and any of the cable networks, and hundreds of similar examples pop up.

In a nutshell: journalistic standards seem to get thrown out the door in favor of press releases when it comes to science reporting. The end result is segments that make the networks in question look foolish, as they did in the examples above.