By now you're probably familiar with Koch-funded science denial. Now meet Coke-funded science denial.
Fox News host Shepard Smith compared the news that Coca-Cola is funding scientists who dispute the link between caloric intake and obesity to the fossil fuel industry money behind climate change deniers, in stark contrast with how right-wing media figures reacted.
The New York Times recently revealed how Coca-Cola is behind a new organization called the Global Energy Balance Network that is promoting exercise as "a solution to chronic disease and obesity while remaining largely silent on the role of food and nutrition." The group's vice president, Steven N. Blair, said in a video announcing the organization: "Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is ... blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks, and so on [for obesity]. And there's really virtually no compelling evidence that that in fact is the cause."
But the Times reported that health experts "say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes." The experts "contend that the company is using its new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite scientific evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume." Global nutrition professor Barry M. Popkin told the Times that "Coke's support of prominent health researchers was reminiscent of tactics used by the tobacco industry, which enlisted experts to become 'merchants of doubt' about the health hazards of smoking."
On the August 10 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting, anchor Smith offered a similar analogy -- and extended it even further to climate change denial. Smith said the story "reminds you of exactly what the tobacco industry did back in day, and more recently, it also reminds you of what the climate deniers -- the climate change deniers -- are doing as well":
However, Fox contributor Lisa "Kennedy" Montgomery countered with rhetoric more in line with that of Fox News, claiming that "there's so much adulterated science out there that people are no longer going to trust the scientific method at all," and that it's "hard to figure out ... what is emotional rhetoric and what is fact" on climate change. (The facts undoubtedly show that climate change is real and that humans are causing it.)
And Rush Limbaugh came to the complete opposite conclusion as Smith. On the August 10 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh ranted that the Times' Coca-Cola story "undermine[s] the whole notion of a scientific consensus," because it "can be bought and paid for":
LIMBAUGH: If Coca-Cola can find scientists and get an opinion that they want from by paying them, do you think the same thing could happen to climate change scientists and a "consensus" of them? Do you think somebody could come along and offer those scientists enough money? I mean, the left, if anybody's paying attention, is writing their own obituary in this stuff.
They're undermining the whole notion of a scientific consensus. Now it can be bought and paid for by Coca-Cola.
The tobacco industry has used deceitful tactics for decades to deny and cast doubt upon the scientifically proven health impacts of cigarettes, and the fossil fuel industry has employed the same tactics on climate change. Now, the Coke-funded scientists agreeing with the industry's bottom line have been roundly criticized by independent scientists and health experts. Is Coke the new flavor of industry-funded science denial?
Fox News pundits repeatedly pushed -- and then walked back -- a false narrative propagated by an anti-Islam blogger that an "ISIS-linked" Twitter account warned of the Tennessee shooting prior to the attack.
From the April 27 edition of Fox News' The Five:
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Riding a hollow premise to new uncharted depths, Fox News not only tossed aside its own clearly stated position about airing violent propaganda videos distributed by terrorists, it also became, according to The Guardian, the only American news organization this week to toil in the realm of marketing an execution.
Fox not only aired graphic images of a controversial Islamic State (ISIS) clip on its signature nightly news show, it embedded the gruesome, unedited video on its website, and provided lurid, play-by-play description of Jordanian pilot Muath al-Kasaesbeh dying at the hands of his captures. (Shepard Smith: "Eventually the pilot collapses to his knees.")
This is just stunning. An American news organization hosting on its website an explicit terrorist video that captures the staged execution of an innocent hostage.
How do mainstream organizations handle newsworthy acts of barbarism touted by terrorist organizations? That debate raged last summer when ISIS beheaded American journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff and hyped the executions via videos.
At the time, the New York Post was considered to have gone right up to edge of good taste with a front page that featured image of Foley just before his beheading, with the executioner's knife at his throat. (By contrast, the image Fox splashed on the screen Tuesday night showed the hostage engulfed in flames; in the process of being killed.) As USA Today media columnist Rem Rieder noted in August, "There seemed to be wide agreement that making the images available would both dishonor the memory of James Foley and play into the hands of the Islamic State radicals by doing what they wanted."
Recall the words five months ago of Michael Clemente, Fox's executive vice president of news/editorial, when the beheading videos emerged: "What we try to do is use judgment so that people are informed about what actually happened while showing as little of what took place as possible."
Now recall the words of Fox anchor Bret Baier less than 48 hours ago: "The reason we are showing you this is to bring you the reality of Islamic terrorism and to label it as such. We feel you need to see it so we will put up one of the images on your screen right now."
See, if Fox doesn't show ISIS evil in the form of a murder, people won't grasp the "reality."
From the January 16 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
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Fox News media critic Howard Kurtz echoed his colleague Shepard Smith's admonishment of media for irresponsible Ebola coverage, highlighting his own network's reporting failures.
Kurtz called out media figures like Fox host Bill O'Reilly, who has demanded the resignation of CDC director Tom Frieden, for reducing their response to Ebola "to a question of which heads should roll."
He contrasted coverage like O'Reilly's to that of Fox's Shepard Smith, who made headlines this week for blasting media's "irresponsible" and "hysterical" Ebola coverage. Smith "challenged his own profession to stop scaring people," Kurtz explained, asking, "Will the media listen?"
From Kurtz's October 17 column:
There's a growing media drumbeat on how to fix the Ebola crisis.
Tom Frieden should resign!
[D]oes anyone really believe that turning CDC over to an acting director will quickly boost the agency's performance?
Bill O'Reilly has demanded that Frieden be fired, calling him the "chief propagandist" for the "dumb and dangerous" approach of expecting airport screening to be able to keep infected people out of the United States.
Another doctor, Fox contributor Manny Alvarez, says:
"I am more convinced than ever that CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden is not the right person for the job. And I say this because this latest press conference consisted of him telling a room of reporters what anyone who has ever dealt with Ebola in the past should have known...
"Frieden showed up late to the game again on Ebola, which is not acceptable when lives are at stake."
On October 15th edition of Shepard Smith Reporting, Shep Smith called out "irresponsible" Ebola fear-mongering in the media, telling viewers: "Do not listen to the hysterical voices on the radio and on the television or read the fear-provoking words onine. The people who say and write hysterical things are being very irresponsible."
Smith's monologue comes after his Fox News colleagues Bill O'Reilly and Laura Ingraham compared CDC Director Dr. Thomas Frieden to a propagandist, and after Fox's Sean Hannity said on his radio show that he would ignore the CDC press conference because he doesn't trust them.
Smith has a long track record of bucking the trend of fear-mongering on Fox News. Here are 7 times Shep Smith was Fox's voice of reason:
From the October 15 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
While journalists examined thousands of newly released documents from the Clinton White House in search of salacious details, Fox News' Shepard Smith mocked the coverage as "beat-up-the-Clintons day again" before concluding that the documents show "Hillary didn't do anything."
On the February 28 edition of Shepard Smith Reporting, host Smith mocked "revelations" in newly released internal memos that Clinton aides attempted to "humanize" the former first lady, joking of the Clintons' critics, "Oh, my God, they may think they need to impeach them again." Some conservative outlets have attempted to to claim that the documents show that the "Clinton administration's strategy rested on using veterans as political "pawns" to bolster support for healthcare reform."
Today's release of 4,000 documents is the first in a series of releases of more than 30,000 pages from the Clinton White House, but Fox News Sunday anchor Chris Wallace stated that "there's really no there there," predicting that "unless we see something a lot more incriminating than what we have seen so far, this will all be forgotten by the end of the weekend, maybe by the end of today":
Wallace attempted to equate the conservative reaction to the Clinton documents with reaction to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's recent scandal, but Smith was quick to point out that Christie, unlike Clinton, is involved in a real scandal, and the documents thus far show nothing more than how "she used the Internet to talk to women."
From the January 15 edition of Fox News' Shepard Smith Reporting:
A handful of fringe anti-gay activists are having a meltdown over a "report" that alleges Fox News harbors a "growing pro-homosexual bias," ignoring the network's ongoing track record of smearing and stoking fears about LGBT people and LGBT equality.
On August 14, the xenophobic, Islamophobic, and homophobic right-wing group America's Survival published a "report" documenting Fox News' alleged "growing pro-homosexual bias," citing the network's ties to the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association (NLGJA) and occasionally favorable coverage of marriage equality by personalities like hosts Megyn Kelly and Shepard Smith.
The rambling, 40,000-word report was written by Peter LaBarbera, president of one of the fringiest anti-gay hate groups in America - Americans for Truth About Homosexuality (AFTAH). It's already being touted by other anti-gay hate mongers, including the American Family Association's (AFA) Bryan Fischer:
From the November 8 edition of Fox News' Fox Report:
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From the October 26 edition of Fox News' Studio B:
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From the September 20 edition of Fox News' Studio B:
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