April 30, 2016

Survey Shows Many TV Weathercasters Are Dumb

The New York Times in its March 29 story, “Among Weathercasters, Doubt on Warming,” was too nice to say it and a more thorough Columbia Journalism Review article on the same subject titled “Hot Air” came closer to saying it, but the research that both articles refer to clearly indicates what we’ve known intuitively for years, that most TV weathercasters, to put it bluntly, are dumb.
The research both articles referred to was done at George Mason University, and you can look at it here.
The research shows the schism is between climatologists and meteorologists. Climatologists are those who are scientists and have at least a masters degree. Meteorologists are not scientists and don’t know what they are talking about when it comes to predicting long-term weather trends, let alone five-day forecasts.
Of course, I’m being a little dramatic when I call most TV weathercasters dumb, which I do in the headline mainly to get attention. Most TV weathercasters aren’t necessarily dumb; they are primarily entertainers who have a deep-seated need to be noticed and loved. But some are getting advanced degrees in climate change, but these enlightened weathercasters are in the minority.
The majority are exhibitionists who have an attention deficit somewhere in their background that leads them with a deep need to be noticed and loved – no different from other entertainers: actors, comedians, and radio and TV vaudevillians such as Rush Limbaugh, Bill O’Reilly, Keith Olbermann, Don Imus, Howard Stern, or Glenn Beck, all of whose greatest talent is getting noticed.
In the case of TV weathercasters, especially at the local TV station level, these entertainers are good at communicating on TV and being cute and funny. The clowns and comedians among them tend to migrate to the sunshine states and, especially Southern California, where they have to come up with entertaining ways to say on the air, “Seventy-two degrees and sunny.”
For example, on-air clown and TV weatherentertainer John Coleman, who was on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” and was a founder of the Weather Channel, works at KUSI-TV in San Diego and he’s one of the dumb ones who think climate change is a “scam.”
What The New York Times and Columbia Journalism Review articles did not mention are the implied characteristics of the people who watch and believe these weatherentertainers and their climate change denials. If the TV weatherentertainers are dumb, or, more correctly, uneducated and uniformed, what does this make the people who watch them? Probably dumb, or, more correctly, uneducated and uninformed and even more dangerous, terminally incurious.
Is it any wonder that we have birthers, tea party members, Sarah Palin fans, and militias that are arming to fight the anti-Christ (see this NY Times story)? They are uneducated people who probably watch local TV to get their local news and weather, watch Fox News to get their national news, and watch Glenn Beck and listen to Rush Limbaugh to get their political opinions.
By getting information from entertainers, they are doing what Neil Postman identified as “Amusing Ourselves to Death,” but in this case it is also amusing our planet to death.


  1. Media Curmudgeon says:

    Chris Westerkamp commented on your status:
    “You have hit a subject that I faced running stations — weather people think the newscast is all about them. They repeat everything over and over. Then there’s the bogus radar technology. Do I care if it’s VIPER Radar? nobody does except news consultants. they are still selling 20-year- old concepts to broadcasters stuck in the past. Look at BBC America — well presented without all the whiz-bang noise and graphics — but not boring. There is another category of weather-casters – weather nerds that think everyone should get a science lesson or need to show off their meteorology smarts; who cares? When they are done, I still can’t tell whether I need to wear a sweater tomorrow. It is symptomatic of why broadcast news is so weak. and BTW, let’s blame it on Nielsen.”

  2. Brian Hall says:

    Not tea bags, Chas! pretty much 100% wrong.
    Meteorology is an actual science that recognizes the data and modelling limitations it works under. Climatology is a non-existent science; there are no courses or degrees in it (save perhaps a few recent cobbled-together efforts to get on the gravy train.) The proponents of the IPCC version of the subject area are a motley lot, with a tiny cabal of gatekeepers pushing their mandate, which is/always was EXPLICITLY to generate a case for anthropogenic global warming.
    It has putrid data sourcing, and tinkertoy ‘unphysical’ models which, in the fine print, they admit are ‘scenarios’ — i.e., illustrations of the what-if stories concocted by their customers.
    Fortunately, their ‘predictions’ are failing every real-world test, high, wide, and handsome. And the wall of pal-reviewed silence has been breached.

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