Only 24% of Republicans Believe Gore Deserves Nobel
Matthew C. Nisbet, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Public Policy, and Urban Affairs at Northeastern University. Nisbet studies the role of communication and advocacy in policymaking and public affairs, focusing on debates over over climate change, energy, and sustainability. Among awards and recognition, Nisbet has been a Visiting Shorenstein Fellow on Press, Politics, and Public Policy at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government, a Health Policy Investigator at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, and a Google Science Communication Fellow. In 2011, the editors at the journal Nature recommended Nisbet's research as “essential reading for anyone with a passing interest in the climate change debate,” and the New Republic highlighted his work as a “fascinating dissection of the shortcomings of climate activism."
In the United States, when it comes to public perceptions of Gore's climate message and Nobel award, partisanship is serving as the strongest of perceptual screens, triggered in part by the chorus of conservative media attacking Gore's accomplishments and challenging the science behind his claims.
Consider the clip above from Fox News Sunday. In the roundtable discussion, Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol leads by deriding Gore for "bloviating" about climate change while people die in Iraq and Burma. Conservative columnist Charles Krauthamer adopts the now familiar talking points, reminding viewers that in winning the award Gore joins Yasser Arafat, "the father of modern terrorism," and Jimmy Carter, "the most disgraceful ex-president of the United States." Krauthammer then goes on to say that the Nobel prize has nothing to do with peace but is about politics. In fact, it's the "Kentucky Derby of the left"!
For the past week, these messages have been consistent across the network. For example, even before the Nobel announcement, popular host Neil Caputo featured Seth Lipsky of the conservative NY Sun who argued the paper's editorial position that General Petraeus deserved the Peace Prize rather than Gore. On the day of the announcement, the hosts of the popular morning show Fox & Friend's immediately defined the event for viewers. See the clip below. Notice the consistency in talking points between Fox News Sunday and Fox & Friends.
The relationship between these messages and public opinion is predictable. In a Gallup analysis of survey data collected over the weekend, only 24% of Republicans believe that Gore should have received the award compared to 40% who say Gore did not deserve to win and 36% who have no opinion. Among Democrats, 64% endorse Gore's Nobel win while only 10% question it.