Fox News took the Interior Secretary's remarks on the urgency of climate change out of context to claim that the Obama administration is engaged in a "witch hunt" to purge climate deniers from the agency.
Fox & Friends hosted contributor Michelle Malkin Tuesday to suggest that Interior Secretary Sally Jewell is planning on conducting a "witch hunt" because she said she "hope[s] there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior." Malkin added that Jewell was "talking like a cult leader" and insinuated that the administration is full of "eco-zombies."
But extended video from the meeting undermines this attack. Jewell was not trying to intimidate anyone; rather, she was emphasizing the signs of climate change already evident on our public lands, and encouraging the department to heed those signs and address the broader issue through renewable energy leasing and other measures.
Here's what Jewell actually said and how Fox News clipped the video to make it seem like she was announcing a "witch hunt":
JEWELL: I hope there are no climate change deniers in the Department of the Interior. If you don't believe in it, come out into the resources, go on to some [federal] land, go to Alaska where the permafrost is melting, go into the Sierra, which used to retain a lot more water in its frozen form that's now running off the hillsides quicker, and we don't have the storage capacity to be able to serve the downstream users like the demand requires. We have far-reaching impacts in every part of the department, but we are in a unique position to actually be able to do something about it. How exciting is that?
Incidentally, the vast majority of scientists accept that the climate is changing due to human activity.
Other conservative outlets have suggested that Jewell's remarks amounted to a threat, with some suggesting imminent "scientific cleansing" and claiming that Jewell "behaves like a self-righteous bully." Previously, conservative commentators attacked Jewell for supposedly being on the "environmental fringe" despite her pro-business bona fides. Bloomberg and others recently noted that she has actually pushed back against budget cuts that would slow leasing and permit planning to drill for oil and gas on federal lands. That doesn't jibe with the right-wing caricature of Jewell as a green "cult leader," so you're not likely to hear about it on Fox News.