PBS' Frontline recently aired a documentary titled "Climate of Doubt," examining how conservative groups, frequently funded by the fossil fuel industry, have pushed Republicans to reject the scientific consensus on manmade global warming. Here, Media Matters looks back at how Fox News has contributed to that "Climate of Doubt," often teaming up with industry to misrepresent science and attack all efforts to address this threat.
2005-2006: Fox News Airs Special On Reality Of Climate Change, Experiences Exxon-Fueled Backlash
Fox News Aired A Special Explaining The Science Of Climate Change With No False Balance. In 2005, Fox News aired a special titled "The Heat Is On: The Case of Global Warming," which reportedly did not dispute the science. Fox News' preview of the special stated that "producers traveled to Alaska's Glacier Bay to see evidence of climate change and to speak with scientists who have studied this phenomenon for more than 30 years." In addition to scientists, Fox News interviewed President George W. Bush, former President Bill Clinton, and climate activists who are "committed to teaching everyday Americans and the rest of the world about what can be done to cut down on greenhouse gasses that threaten our children's future." Fox News unequivocally stated the threat of climate change:
Drastic climate changes during the last 100 years have experts worried about the effects of greenhouse gasses.
Increasingly, as you will see in this special, scientists and government officials alike are agreeing that man's impact on climate has been extreme and the air that we breathe may hold a degenerating quality of life for our children. [FoxNews.com, 11/11/05] [FoxNews.com, 11/14/05] [Grist, 11/12/05]
Fox News' Senior Vice President Called Global Warming One Of The Top 10 Issues We Face. The Los Angeles Times reported on the special:
Bill Shine, the network's senior vice president for programming, said Fox decided to do the special because global warming is a significant news story.
"There are at least 10 big issues out there today, and that's one of them," Shine said.
Shine said that the network sees the program as fitting squarely in its mission to deliver the news. Fox has not devoted substantial time to global warming in the past, he said, and felt it was a good time to do so. [The Los Angeles Times, 11/12/05]
Exxon-Funded Groups Lashed Out At Fox News For Running The Special.
- The Competitive Enterprise Institute, which in 2005 received $90,000 from oil giant ExxonMobil, criticized Fox's special before it aired because a producer told them that "Fox intends to run a disclaimer revealing that the network ignored alternative views" on the science of climate change. [Competitive Enterprise Institute, 11/9/05] [ExxonSecrets.org, accessed 10/23/12]
- The Center for Sound Science and Public Policy issued a press release after the special aired saying that Fox's special was a "transparent form of deception" that "advance[ed] alarming claims which have little to no basis in fact." The Center was founded with funds from ExxonMobil as a project of Frontiers of Freedom, which received $140,000 from the corporation in 2005. [PR Newswire, 11/21/05] [SourceWatch.org, 10/23/12]
- Several conservative media outlets also criticized Fox. [CNSNews.com, 7/7/08] [Investor's Business Daily, 11/15/05]
Fox News Responded By Airing A Special That Featured Only Climate "Skeptics" And Did Not Acknowledge The Consensus. After the backlash from the right against the 2005 special, Fox News capitulated by airing a special that Fox News host Neil Cavuto called the "definitive piece" on climate change. In it, host David Asman said "almost all scientists agree that there is global warming," but claimed "but there is no scientific consensus about what causes global warming or how it will affect our lives." The special dedicated significant time to Rep. James Inhofe (R-OK) who said that global warming is a "total hoax," "an outrageous lie and they know it." The special also featured some of the very few scientists who dispute the extent of manmade global warming -- John Christy, Roy Spencer, and Patrick Michaels. [Fox News, "Global Warming: The Debate Continues," 5/21/06, via Media Matters]
2006 - 2007: Fox Goes On The Attack Against Gore's Climate Campaign
Fox News Launched Pre-Emptive Attack Against Al Gore's An Inconvenient Truth.
- Before the documentary An Inconvenient Truth featuring former Vice President Al Gore even aired, Fox News said that it was "alarmist," pointing to a poster for the movie. [Fox News, The Big Story, 5/19/06, via Nexis]
- Immediately after An Inconvenient Truth premiered, Fox News hosted Sterling Burnett, a fellow at the ExxonMobil funded National Center for Policy Analysis, who said of the movie, "why go see propaganda? You don't go see Joseph Goebbels' films to see the truth about Nazi Germany. You don't go see Al Gore's films to see the truth about global warming." [Think Progress, 5/23/06] [The New York Times, 5/23/06]
- The Weekly Standard's Fred Barnes acknowledged on Fox News that global temperatures "have gone up a little, we have to do some things," but in calling Gore "hysterical" said that it's not "anywhere near certain" that "the small increase in temperature over the last hundred years is caused by man or not." [Fox News, Special Report, 5/23/06, via Media Matters]
- Fox News reportedly asked, "Al Gore's global warming movie: could it destroy the economy?" [The New York Times, 5/26/06]
- Fox News anchor Bill Hemmer said that The Wall Street Journal's Pete Du Pont made a "convincing" argument that global warming is primarily caused by solar radiation rather than human activity. Sean Hannity claimed that if "you go back to the first Earth Day" liberals "were holding up signs that said 'The Coming Ice Age.' If you look at the history of temepratures, there's a natural ebb and flow to all of this. And I think Al Gore is unhinged." [Fox News, Hannity and Colmes, 8/4/06]
Hannity Became Obsessed With Attacking Al Gore For Supposed Hypocrisy.
- Sean Hannity called Gore's supposedly high energy usage and travel in private jets "pure, Class A hypocritical living." Hannity's claims about Gore's energy usage ignored that one reason that the price was high was because Gore was purchasing clean energy and that he had taken several steps to reduce energy usage in his home. [Fox News, Hannity & Colmes, 2/27/07, via Media Matters]
- Hannity repeatedly attacked Gore for using carbon offsets, calling Gore a "hypocrite" for using "a crock" like carbon offsets. [Fox News, Hannity's America, 3/25/07, via Media Matters]
- As PBS noted, Hannity filmed Gore exiting a private jet, using the video to attack him for his carbon footprint. [Fox News, Hannity's America, 9/9/07, via PBS]
2007: News Corp. Pledges To Educate Its Audiences About Climate Change -- But Fox Has Continued Its Annual Snow Job
Feb. 2007: Fox News Called It "Ironic" That A Climate Change Hearing Was Cancelled Due To A Winter Storm. On February 14, Fox News' Megyn Kelly and Brit Hume reported on the cancellation of a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee hearing on climate change due to severe winter weather conditions in Washington, D.C. Kelly deemed the turn of events "ironic," suggesting that cold weather and snow in February cast doubt on the existence of global warming. [Media Matters, 2/15/07]
April 2007: News Corp. Announced Climate Initiative, Pledged To Educate Its Audiences About Reducing Their Carbon Footprint. From a May 9, 2007 speech by Rupert Murdoch announcing News Corp.'s Global Energy Initiative to address climate change -- an effort that is appealing to advertisers:
Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction.
We can do something that's unique, different from just any other company. We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours.
That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer. [Media Matters, 4/21/11]
But Fox Has Continued Its Annual Snow Job. A Media Matters compilation video shows that every winter since at least 2007, Fox has used snow to cast doubt on climate change:
But a single winter storm in one city on earth does not cast doubt on the extensive science showing global temperatures have risen. While there will still be natural weather variation, global warming increases the risk of certain extreme weather events. [Media Matters, 12/21/11]
2008-2009: Fox Scares Senate Into Inaction On Cap-And-Trade
Fox Reporter Campaigned Against Cap-And-Trade Before Obama Was Even Inaugurated. A Fox News reporter claimed that "economists say" that the "economy right now can't handle" putting a price on carbon, citing a Heritage Foundation fellow. A variation of the segment ran on several Fox News shows, including this segment from American's News Headquarters:
GRETCHEN CARLSON: The cost of going green. President-elect Obama meeting today with former Vice President Al Gore reportedly to talk about energy and climate change. Obama has promised to develop alternate energy and green technologies. But given the current economic crisis at hand, can he stick to his plan of saving the planet? FOX's William La Jeunesse is live in Santa Monica, California. William, do you have the answer?
WILLIAM LA JEUNESSE: The short answer is no, Gretchen, you cannot do both, and I'll tell you why. Alternative energy still costs more than conventional energy.
Now, economists say, however, for every green job you create with those revenues, $15 billion a year, you're going to kill another job.
DAVID KREUTZER, HERITAGE FOUNDATION (VIDEO CLIP): Right now, and for the foreseeable future, the vast majority of our energy is going to come from fossil fuels. So if you cut down on CO2 emissions, you're going to cut down on energy. It's going to raise prices. It's going to raise electric rates. The EPA calculated by 2030 that electric rates would go up by 80 percent.
LA JEUNESSE: And because of that economic hit, many analysts say Obama will not be able to keep his campaign promise, angering some environmentalists who say the impact of global warming far outweighs a few jobs.
EILEEN CLAUSSEN, PEW CENTER (VIDEO CLIP): We have to do it. We are seriously changing the climate. The repercussions of that are enormous and will be felt over a long period of time.
LA JEUNESSE: So the bottom line is, Gretchen, you're going to hear a lot about green jobs in the stimulus bill, but do not expect to see a hefty carbon tax right away because the economy right now can't handle it. [Fox News, America's News Headquarters, 12/9/08, via Nexis]
Fox Fearmongered About Costs Of House Cap-And-Trade Bill. On Fox & Friends, Glenn Beck warned that passing cap-and-trade legislation would be "national suicide." On his program, he aired a graphic calling Republicans who voted for it "traitor[s]." Meanwhile, he and his colleagues at Fox misrepresented a Treasury Department memo to claim that the cap-and-trade bill passed by the House could cost American households an extra "1,761 bucks a year in taxes." Fox & Friends' Brian Kilmeade suggested it could "double the unemployment numbers." And Fox Nation called it a "direct assault on industrial base of America." In fact, a 2009 Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis estimated that the net impact to households from the bill in 2020 would range between a benefit of $40 per year and a cost of $340 per year, for an average cost of $165 per year. The same report concluded total employment would be "only modestly affected" by cap-and-trade, a change that is "small compared with the normal rate of job turnover in the economy." [Media Matters, 7/21/09] [Media Matters, 6/29/09] [Media Matters, 9/17/09] [Media Matters, 6/26/09] [Media Matters, 6/26/09] [CBO, 6/23/09, via Media Matters] [CBO, 6/26/09, via Media Matters]
Sen. Graham Urged Senate To Act On Cap-And-Trade "Before Fox News Got Wind." The New Yorker reported that Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) urged Sens. Joe Lieberman and John Kerry to advance climate bill negotiations as much as possible before Fox News could find out about it:
Graham warned Lieberman and Kerry that they needed to get as far as they could in negotiating the bill "before Fox News got wind of the fact that this was a serious process," one of the people involved in the negotiations said. "He would say, 'The second they focus on us, it's gonna be all cap-and-tax all the time, and it's gonna become just a disaster for me on the airwaves. We have to move this along as quickly as possible.'"
Graham later walked away from negotiations over cap-and-trade and stated that he doesn't believe human-caused emissions "are contributing overwhelmingly to global climate change." [Media Matters, 10/3/10]
2009-2010: Fox Cycle Pushed Mainstream Media To Cover "Climategate"
Fox Pushed Manufactured "Climategate" Scandal. In November of 2009, emails stolen from the UK's Climate Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia were amplified by climate-skeptic bloggers and selectively quoted to suggest a conspiracy among scientists to fabricate evidence of man-made climate change. It didn't take long for Fox News to lead the charge on the manufactured "Climategate" story and help turn it into a full-fledged phony scandal.
- On Fox News' Your World with Neil Cavuto, Stuart Varney opened the "Climategate" salvo by declaring that the hacked emails suggest "scientists are fudging data to make their case for global warming." He interviewed Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), a prominent climate change denier, reading him excerpts of emails and interjecting that they showed "the evidence isn't there" and exposed scientists "deliberately changing the data to suit [their] way." In fact, the passages Varney used were innocuous when read in their proper context. [Fox News, Your World with Neil Cavuto, 11/24/09, via Media Matters] [Media Matters, 12/1/09]
- Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy summed up Fox News' early coverage of "Climategate" well: "[T]hat's one of the charms of the Fox News Channel. I mean, that, you know, we talk about a lot of stuff that you simply do not hear anywhere else." That month, the network ramped up its "Climategate" distortions, repeatedly referring to the hacked e-mails as "leaked," "revealed," "discovered" or "uncovered" -- instead of stolen or hacked -- and distorting the message of the email. [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/2/09, via Media Matters] [Media Matters, 12/6/09] [Media Matters, 7/9/10]
In The Wake Of "Climategate," Fox Executive Ordered Journalists To Cast Doubt On Climate Science. In December 2009, Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon sent an email questioning the "veracity of climate change data" and ordering the network's journalists to "refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question." These instructions were reflected in the network's coverage of the 2009 UN climate conference in Copenhagen and the "Climategate" controversy. Media Matters reported on this leaked email in December 2010. [Media Matters, 12/15/10]
Fox Cycle Spurred Other Outlets To Cover "Climategate". After Fox News aired numerous reports on the unfounded "Climategate" "scandal," other networks began to cover it. The progression demonstrated the Fox Cycle, in which a scurrilous and ill-founded right-wing claim makes the leap to the mainstream. [Media Matters, 7/10/12] [Media Matters, 2/28/11]
- NBC: "Have The Books Been Cooked On Climate Change?" Teasing a segment on "Climategate," Brian Williams asked, "Have the books been cooked on climate change?" During the segment, NBC correspondent Anne Thompson stated that "Those that doubt that manmade greenhouse gases are changing the climate say" that the emails "show climate scientists massaging data and suppressing studies by those who disagree." [NBC Nightly News, 12/4/09, via Media Matters]
- CBS: Scientists "Manipulat[ed]" Data To Get "The Answer They Wanted." A CBS Evening News report on the emails referred to out-of-context language to claim scientists "worked hard to demonstrate an upward trend" in global temperatures, manipulating data until they got "the answer they wanted." [CBS Evening News, 12/8/09, via Media Matters]
- ABC Called Out-Of-Context Email "Damning." During a segment on ABC's World News, correspondent David Wright repeated the falsehood that an exchange from the hacked emails proved scientists couldn't account for a temperature decline. Wright also reported: "One of the most damning email exchanges credits [Michael] Mann with a 'trick' to 'hide the decline' in temperatures." But the "decline" referred to unreliable tree-ring data, not actual temperatures. [ABC, World News, 7/1/10, via Media Matters,]
- CNN: Emails "May Cast Some Doubt On Global Warming Research." CNN news shows also picked up the "Climategate" story in December, referring to a "cloud of controversy" and "a cloud of suspicion" surrounding the hacked emails. CNN Newsroom host Don Lemon claimed the emails "may cast some doubt on global warming research." [CNN Newsroom, 7/1/10, via Media Matters] [CNN, The Situation Room, 7/1/10, via Media Matters]
- CBS Invoked "Climategate" Again In Spring. In February 2010, CBS Evening News, used a segment on an official acknowledging an error about Himalayan glaciers in an IPCC report to resurrect the claim that trust in climate science has been "undermined" by the "Climategate" emails. Correspondent Mike Phillips said: "It's a frustrating time for those who believe the basic science in global warming remains true." [CBS Evening News, 2/11/10, via Media Matters]
Despite Investigations Clearing Scientists, Fox Continued To Accuse Scientists Of "Fudging Data."
- Days After Scientists' Exoneration, Fox Pushed "Climategate" Fable. Days after an investigation by the UK's House of Commons found no evidence of deceptive data manipulation by CRU scientists, Fox & Friends hosts wished viewers a "Happy Earth Day" by devoting a segment to "taking a look back at how the mainstream media covered and didn't cover Climategate." During the segment, the Media Research Center's Brent Bozell was given a chance to declare definitively that the emails showed "a campaign to manipulate scientific data." [Associated Press, 4/22/10, via Media Matters] [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/22/10, via Media Matters]
- Six Investigations Later, Fox Mostly Silent On Findings. After six official investigations had cleared the scientists of fudging data, Fox News had largely ignored these reports. Fox News' Special Report had ignored all but one, back in April 2010. [Union of Concerned Scientists, 8/25/11] [Fox News, Special Report, 7/8/10, via Media Matters]
- Fox Continues To Push "Climategate" Fable Even After The Investigation They Said Had The "Final Say" Cleared Scientist. Most recently, the National Science Foundation found no evidence of misconduct by Penn State climatologist Michael Mann and formally closed its investigation. Fox News had previously touted the National Science Foundation's inquiry as the "final say" in the matter, but it continues use the "Climategate" fable to push its agenda. [Fox News, The Five, 8/29/11, via Media Matters]
Fox Continued To Push "Climategate" Narrative. Nearly two years after the emails were hacked, Fox was still pushing the debunked claim that "Climategate" showed scientists saying "we've been cooking the books here." [Fox News, The Five, 8/29/11, via Media Matters]
2011: Fox Pushes "Climategate II" Emails To Undermine UN Climate Conference
Fox Hyped Second Round Of "Climategate" Emails. After celebrating public confusion on climate science in the wake of the 2009 "Climategate" controversy, Fox News seized on a second set of stolen emails released in November 2011 to revive its claim that scientists have deceptively manipulated data. Fox News' "straight news" program Special Report took several of the emails out of context and aired an interview with the Competitive Enterprise Institute's Myron Ebell, who said the emails show that scientists "have been concealing and manipulating data. They've been involved in essentially a conspiracy." Fox Business' Chris Cotter said the emails reveal that "much of the science behind [global warming] was weak," and Lou Dobbs added that the emails "show how prominent scientists actually manipulated data to support the theory that global warming is manmade." In context, the emails said no such thing. [Media Matters, 11/30/11]
Fox Distorted UN Climate Agreement. After a deal was reached at the UN climate conference in Durban, South Africa in December 2011, Fox News immediately began distorting the agreement, claiming that it established an "international climate court of justice" and contained "reparations" to developing countries that amounts to the amount that "we spend on our own defense." In fact, the final agreement contained no mention of a climate court, and the climate fund to help poor countries adapt to climate change was nowhere near the amount of U.S. defense spending. After pushing this misinformation, Fox News legal analyst Peter Johnson Jr. declared that climate science is "deep, deep in dispute." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/12/11, via Media Matters]
2012: After Study Finds Fox's Coverage Is "Overwhelmingly Misleading," Fox Runs Special Casting Doubt On Global Warming
UCS: 93 Percent Of Fox News Climate Coverage Was Misleading. In a 2012 analysis, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) found that 93 percent of Fox News' representations of climate science from February to July 2012 were misleading, and "The most common form of criticism regarding climate science was to broadly dismiss the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring or human-induced." UCS recommended:
To improve the accuracy of climate science coverage, News Corp. can help staff better differentiate between scientific and policy claims on climate change. It is always misleading to reject the overwhelming scientific evidence that human-caused climate change is occurring, but can be entirely appropriate to criticize specific policies aimed at addressing climate change. [Union of Concerned Scientists, 9/20/12]
Indeed, Fox Misrepresented Several Studies To Distort Climate Science. In 2012, Fox distorted several studies to either cast doubt on the source of climate change or suggest that it isn't occurring.
- Fox News Corrected By Scientist On Polar Ice. Fox News pointed to a study to claim that "the Earth's polar ice is melting less than previously thought," when in fact the study's estimate for polar ice loss "roughly the same as previous estimates," according to the study's lead author, John Wahr. The study actually found that glaciers in the Himalayan region were melting less than ground-based estimates had indicated. Bret Baier suggested that the study's results indicated that viewers "may no be" "worried" about ice melt after their report, but Wahr said, "People should be just as worried about the melting of the world's ice as they were before." [Fox News, Special Report, 2/13/12, via Media Matters]
- Fox & Friends Cherry-Picked One Mountain Range To Hide Global Glacier Melt. On Fox & Friends, CEI's Chris Horner used a study about one Himalayan glacier range slightly gaining ice to falsely claim that "You could say most [glaciers] are getting bigger." Aptly, co-host Steve Doocy concluded by saying "You know, I haven't heard on any of the other channels that some of the glaciers are getting bigger, but that's why people watch Fox." [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 4/20/12, via Media Matters]
- Fox Claimed "Wind Farms Cause Global Warming." After a study of satellite data found a rise in land temperatures in the immediate vicinity of some Texas wind turbines, Fox Nation claimed that "wind farms cause global warming." Fox & Friends also covered the study, concluding that "wind ain't working." The study's lead author told Media Matters that the coverage was "misleading" and said in a statement to media that "wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air's heat near the surface" [Media Matters, 4/30/12]
- Fox Claimed A Study Provided "More Evidence For Global Cooling." Fox News seized on a study on northern Scandinavian cooling prior to the industrial age to imply the entire earth is currently cooling. [Fox News, Special Report, 7/11/12, via Media Matters]
In Wake Of Study, Fox Turned To Mark Levin To Explain The Greenhouse Effect. Despite UCS' analysis, which received substantial attention, Fox News continued to inaccurately report on climate science. During a recent special on President Obama's "green agenda," host Bret Baier questioned whether global warming is a "real problem." The special featured people without scientific training casting doubt on climate change including right-wing radio host Mark Levin, who denied that carbon dioxide is a pollutant that should be regulated because "Carbon dioxide is what we exhale. Carbon dioxide is necessary for plants." [Media Matters, 10/8/12]
How Fox News And Industry Teamed Up To Spread Climate Science Misinformation
2006: Fox News Complained That ExxonMobil Was Being "Bulli[ed]" Into Pulling Funding For Climate Science Denial. On Fox News' Journal Editorial Report, Wall Street Journal columnist Paul Gigot complained that Sens. Olympia Snowe (R-ME) and John Rockefeller (D-WV) urged ExxonMobil to "end its dangerous support of global warming deniers." Gigot said that the Senators were "caught trying to bully ExxonMobil into toeing their line on global warming" and that the letter was "threatening":
PAUL GIGOT: Kim, I've been in Washington a long time and I can't remember seeing a letter this blunt and, frankly, threatening.
GIGOT: What are they trying to accomplish, Snowe and Rockefeller?
STRASSEL: Well, no, I mean, look, these people, they've made up their mind about global warming, and they're going to make sure nobody else disagrees with them anymore. ExxonMobil has been a big thorn in their side because they've been funding groups that have been asking probing questions about global warming. You'd think we'd like that down in Washington, but not the senators.
BRET STEPHENS: If there were such a consensus and, if it were only CEI that was rejecting it, why would they have to be bullying ExxonMobil? Why would they be so afraid of what little CEI has to say? [Fox News, Journal Editorial Report, 12/12/06, via Media Matters]
Fox News Has Regularly Turned To Exxon-Funded Commentators. Several of the contrarians that Fox has turned to for years for commentary received funding from ExxonMobil, which in 1998 launched a plan to challenge the science on climate change. For instance, FoxNews.com ran a weekly column by Steve Milloy, but as The Guardian reported they did not disclose his extensive industry funding from Philip Morris and Exxon. In one column, Milloy touted a petition claiming that tens of thousands of scientists dispute the consensus, as the "New 'Consensus.'" But PBS reported that many of the signatures on the petition, called the Oregon Petition, belong to people who are not scientists at all and the petition was disavowed by the National Academy of Sciences. [PBS, 10/23/12] [The Guardian, 9/18/06] [FoxNews.com, 5/23/08] [FoxNews.com, 2/5/09]
December 2007: Exxon Announced It Will No Longer Fund Climate "Skeptics." From PBS' timeline of the "Climate of Doubt":
In its 2007 Corporate Citizenship Report (pdf) ExxonMobil announces that starting in 2008, it will "discontinue contributions" to research groups that question climate change. Other funders step into the void, including the American Petroleum Institute and the Koch brothers, major donors to conservative causes. By 2009, according to Bob Brulle, a professor of sociology and environmental science at Drexel University who has tracked this funding, two linked groups named DonorsTrust and Donors Capital Fund, will come to make up 25 percent of all funding for climate-change skeptics. The two funds aren't required to list their donors, however, so the contributors aren't known. [PBS, 10/23/12]
2011: ExxonMobil Sponsored FoxNews.com "Planet Earth" Section. In August 2011, FoxNews.com listed ExxonMobil as the sponsor of its "Planet Earth" section, which had recently run reports pushing the Heartland Institute's misrepresentations of science. Media Matters noted that this seemingly contradicted Exxon's 2008 pledge to stop funding groups "whose positions on climate change could divert attention" from the need to develop clean energy. Shortly after Media Matters' report, Exxon's logo was removed from the "Planet Earth" section. [Media Matters, 8/11/11]
2001 Analysis: Fox News Regularly Cast Doubt On Science. An analysis of evening news coverage from January 20, 2001 to April 22, 2001 by the conservative Media Research Center found that there "were only seven references to the existence of global warming skeptics," and "[s]ix of those were on the Fox News Channel." MRC mentioned that one of the "skeptics" cited by Fox was Richard Lindzen, whose funding from Exxon-linked groups and consulting for fossil fuel companies was previously outlined by PBS. MRC's full report stated that "on the other networks, the theory of human-induced global warming was undisputed; on FNC, it was more properly treated as just another opinion that had supporters and opponents" and included this graphic:
2001 To 2004 Analysis: Fox News Evening Show Disputed Climate Science In Nearly A Third Of Its Coverage. The conservative Media Research Center found in an analysis of evening news coverage from January 2001 through September 30, 2004 that 31 percent of Fox News' programs included what Media Research called a "anti-Kyoto view," but it defined that view as one that rejected the science of manmade global warming. A "pro-Kyoto view" was defined as one that "[a]ccepted global warming as a fact" and/or "[b]lamed mankind for the problem." A press release for the report stated:
The best cable show for covering climate change was the Fox Report. It reported the cost of Kyoto and was the only show to mention the Senate vote opposing the treaty. It also made effective use of experts on both sides. [Media Research Center, 11/8/04] [Media Research Center, 11/10/04]
Study: Nearly 60 Percent Of Fox News Primetime Shows From 2007-08 Were Dismissive Toward Climate Change. A study published by The International Journal Of Press/Politics examined primetime cable news broadcasts from 2007 and 2008, and found that Fox "discussed climate change most often," but "the tone of its coverage was disproportionately dismissive." According to the study, "Fox broadcasts were more likely to include statements that challenged the scientific agreement on climate change, undermined the reality of climate change, and questioned its human causes." This chart from the study shows that Fox News was dismissive toward climate change nearly 60 percent of the time:
[The International Journal Of Press/Politics, 2011]
Study Found 60 Percent Of Regular Fox Viewers Are Misinformed About Scientific Consensus. A study from the University of Maryland examined variations in misinformation by exposure to news sources and found that Fox News viewers were "significantly more likely" to be misinformed about the scientific consensus on climate change. Of those who said they watched Fox News "almost every day," 60 percent believed that "most scientists think climate change is not occurring" or that "views are divided evenly." By contrast, only 25 percent of CNN viewers, 20 percent of MSNBC viewers, and 35 percent of broadcast news viewers held that misconception. Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace later criticized the study, saying it called those who "questioned whether climate change is occurring" misinformed. In fact, the study asked whether "most scientists" believe that climate change is occurring -- an indisputable fact. [Media Matters, 12/17/10]