In recent months, media investigations have revealed that Exxon Mobil peddled climate science denial for years after its scientists recognized that burning fossil fuels causes global warming, prompting New York's Attorney General to issue a subpoena to Exxon and all three Democratic presidential candidates to call for a federal probe of the company. But despite these developments, the nightly news programs of all three major broadcast networks -- ABC, CBS, and NBC -- have failed to air a single segment addressing the evidence that Exxon knowingly deceived its shareholders and the public about climate change.
The Guardian's Dana Nuccitelli criticized Breitbart News and multiple UK-based outlets for mischaracterizing a recent scientific study to promote climate denial and seeming "more interested in promoting a specific political cause ... than in getting the facts right," which Nuccitelli called "the very definition of propaganda."
In an October 15 article, Nuccitelli highlighted false claims by the conservative media outlets about a recent study on isoprene -- a gas that helps clouds form and can impact temperatures. The study found that oceans are emitting more of this gas than previously observed, which, as Nuccitelli wrote, could "reconcile" a previous "discrepancy between measurements and models." Several conservative news outlets used the study to cast doubt on human-caused global warming, with the Daily Express reporting that the study "throws previous estimates of rising temperatures into doubt," The Register claiming that the study shows "there isn't as much urgency" about global warming "as had been thought," and Breitbart News claiming that its findings "may pose a serious threat to man-made global warming theory."
The mischaracterizations led one of the study's authors to publicly argue that the study does not support such conclusions and dispute the notion that it provides evidence against global warming. Nuccitelli reported that Christian George told Carbon Brief: "Our study is a new brick that should help understanding our complex world, by providing new knowledge on air-sea exchanges, but it definitively does not question climate change, it just helps us understand its impact. There is no question that the global climate will become warmer. The question is just how much, how fast and how the effects will change our lives." Nuccitelli concluded that the conservative media outlets "seemed more interested in promoting a specific political cause -- undermining efforts to implement climate policies -- than in getting the facts right," adding that their misuse of science to suit a political agenda was "the very definition of propaganda."
Conservative media outlets have a long history of twisting scientific studies on climate change to dispute the overwhelming consensus that humans are responsible for climate change.
From The Guardian:
Marine isoprene releases could only cause global warming or cooling if the level of the emissions were to change. However, this paper merely suggests that the overall level of isoprene emissions is higher than previously thought, not that the levels are changing. And in fact the study indicates that climate model simulations might be more accurate on ocean isoprene emissions than previously believed.
Conservative media outlets choose propaganda over journalism
However, several conservative media outlets falsely claimed that the study had uncovered a "global cooling process." Writing for Breitbart, James Delingpole claimed that the paper "may pose a serious threat to man-made global warming theory." The Register and Express both claimed that temperatures have been stable for 15 years (they've actually risen by about 0.2°Cduring that time), and that this paper could explain that fictional temperature stability.
The problem lies in the fact that unlike Carbon Brief, whose reporters discussed the study and its implications with two climate scientists including one of the study authors, these conservative media outlets tried to interpret its meaning on their own. This led to mischaracterizations of the paper that Professor Forster described as "quite crazy."
All of these conservative media pieces misrepresenting the paper shared another characteristic. Each revealed its bias by wishfully suggesting the international climate negotiations that will soon be held in Paris could be undermined by the study's findings.
Rather than contact the study's authors or any other climate scientists, the Express and Breitbart quoted Benny Peiser, a social anthropologist, climate fake expert, and director of the anti-climate policy Global Warming Policy Foundation (GWPF). The UK government's Charity Commission ruled last year that the GWPF was blurring fact and comment on climate change, lacked neutrality, and promoted a contrarian position on the subject.
In essence, The Register, Express, and Breitbart seemed more interested in promoting a specific political cause - undermining efforts to implement climate policies - than in getting the facts right. And presenting misleading information to promote a political agenda is the very definition of propaganda.
Media outlets called out a conservative group for deceptively editing a video purporting to show a Planned Parenthood official discussing prices for the illegal sale of fetal tissue from abortions. As many articles pointed out, the full, unedited footage shows the official discussing the reimbursement cost of consensual, legal tissue donations.
Media are recycling old news that The Clinton Foundation accepts foreign donations when neither Bill nor Hillary Clinton hold political office to fearmonger over "ethical concerns" surrounding the donations, ignoring the fact that it is not unusual for foundations to receive foreign donations and that Clinton's record as Secretary of State makes clear that she was not politically influenced by previous donations to the Foundation.
The Guardian helped peddle a thoroughly discredited book alleging that Matthew Shepard was murdered in a drug-related incident, even though lawyers and investigators involved in the case have denounced the book as "fictional."
On October 25, The Guardian published an article by columnist Julie Bindel titled "The truth behind America's most famous gay-hate murder." The report focuses on the widely discredited 2013 book The Book of Matt, in which author Stephen Jimenez attempts to make the case that Matthew Shepard's brutal murder in 1998 was drug-related and not, as it is widely believed, motivated by anti-gay hate.
The book has been criticized for relying on shoddy sources and omitting key facts about the case, prompting the Matthew Shepard Foundation to condemn the book for being based on rumors and innuendo.
Jimenez's book has been described as "fictional" by the lead detective in the case. People familiar with the murder - including one of the killer's appellate attorneys, Albany County Sheriff Dave O'Malley, and Albany County Undersheriff Robert Debree - have condemned the book as factually challenged.
But Bindel didn't include those criticisms in her piece. Instead, she portrayed Jimenez as a victim of gay activists' blind desire to hide the truth about Shepard's murder:
Jimenez has faced a barrage of criticism since the publication of his book and has had readings to promote the book boycotted. Jimenez claims, however, that many of his critics have not actually read it.
"People object to the idea of the book, rather than what is in the book," says Jimenez. "The anger directed at me has been pretty extreme."
[T]he mystery remains - not so much why Matthew died, but why the gay community, after almost five decades of campaigning for equal rights, relies so fundamentally on the image of the perfect martyr to represent the cause.
For several weeks, Glenn Beck has relentlessly demonized CUNY Political Science professor Frances Fox Piven. His attacks have inspired death threats and been met with widespread condemnation. Below, Frances Fox Piven responds to Beck. His paranoid rants, she says, pose a greater danger to American democracy than to her personal safety.
From a February 8 column published on the website of The Guardian:
When the process of governing is incomprehensible, manipulation and propaganda thrives. The strange stories that Glenn Beck creates with his chalkboard gain traction with Americans, who are made anxious by the large changes that have overtaken the United States, including the election of a black president and the increasing racial diversity of the population, deindustrialisation and the decline of American power abroad, as well as cultural changes in sexual and family norms.
By telling simple fairy tales that trace these big and complex changes to the machinations of particular people, Beck makes the changes comprehensible in a way, and also makes the people who are presumably responsible the targets of his listeners' frustration and outrage. Partly because it is utterly irrational, and partly because it is an effort to bully and intimidate his political opponents, this is dangerous for democratic politics.
Like father's employee, like son?
Rupert Murdoch's son James reportedly crashed the London offices of The Independent because the paper had produced promotional ads stating, "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
The Guardian reports:
But [Rupert's] son James seems less ready to turn the other cheek, as it were. And this would seem to be the most plausible explanation for why Murdoch the younger, the chairman and chief executive News Corporation Europe and Asia, caused a media sensation on Wednesday by striding across the editorial floor at the Independent newspaper to berate its editor-in-chief, Simon Kelner.
In common with so many of the unpleasant episodes involving angry young men in modern London, it was a squall about reputation and respect. The newly relaunched Independent had produced a series of relatively innocuous promotional ads assuring readers: "Rupert Murdoch won't decide this election. You will."
There is no evidence that Murdoch senior has even seen the ads, but witnesses report that directly upon seeing Kelner, who was supervising the final production stages of that night's paper, Murdoch the younger began angry remonstrations. "What are you fucking playing at?" was his opening gambit.
The episode left experienced journalists shocked. "They strode in like a scene out of Dodge City," said one. "Murdoch scanned the room, you could almost hear him saying 'Where is he?'"
It looks like the younger Murdoch may be a big fan of Fox News' Bill O'Reilly who has become infamous over the years for ambushing those critical of the conservative network.
He failed miserably with MySpace.
He launched the right-wing TheFoxNation.com claiming it was "time to say 'no' to biased media and 'yes' to fair play and free speech." Quit laughing.
He may be interested in buying Twitter.com.
He paid big bucks to settle hacking lawsuits.
Now, Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, is apparently readying himself for war with Google.
The Guardian reports:
Rupert Murdoch says he will remove stories from Google's search index as a way to encourage people to pay for content online.
In recent months, Murdoch his lieutenants have stepped up their war of words with Google, accusing it of "kleptomania" and acting as a "parasite" for including News Corp content in its Google News pages. But asked why News Corp executives had not chosen to simply remove their websites entirely from Google's search indexes – a simple technical operation – Murdoch said just such a move was on the cards.
"I think we will, but that's when we start charging," he said. "We have it already with the Wall Street Journal. We have a wall, but it's not right to the ceiling. You can get, usually, the first paragraph from any story - but if you're not a paying subscriber to WSJ.com all you get is a paragraph and a subscription form."
The 78-year-old mogul's assertion, however, is not actually correct: users who click through to screened WSJ.com articles from Google searches are usually offered the full text of the story without any subscription block. It is only users who find their way to the story through the Wall Street Journal's website who are told they must subscribe before they can read further.
Murdoch's attitude towards the internet - which appeared to have thawed when he bought social networking site MySpace for $580m in 2005 - has stiffened more recently.
Additionally, it emerged that MySpace, which has struggled in the face of competition from Facebook in recent years, was due to fall short of its targets in a lucrative search deal with Google – a slip that could cost the site more than $100m in payments from the internet advertising giant.
Actually, it might not be that bad if Murdoch pulls News Corp content off of Google. Think of the millions of people that would be inoculated from his... ummm "fair and balance" approach to journalism.
UPDATE: Google has responded. This Telegraph headline says it all: "Google: Rupert Murdoch Can Block Us If He Wants To."
According to a report in The Guardian, Rupert Murdoch – chairman of News Corp, the parent company of Fox News – has "paid out more than £1m (about $1.6 million) to settle legal cases that threatened to reveal evidence of his journalists' repeated involvement in the use of criminal methods to get stories."
Fair and balanced (and illegally obtained?)
Romenesko summarized the sordid story:
...Rupert Murdoch's British newspaper subsidiary paid about $1.6 million to settle court cases involving allegations that its reporters worked with private investigators to hack into numerous public figures' cellphones. Murdoch tells Bloomberg News that's news to him. "If that had happened, I would know about it."
As if his takeover of MySpace wasn't enough.
The Guardian reports on speculation that Rupert Murdoch, chairman of News Corp the parent company of Fox News, "could be ready to make a play for [Twitter]."
From The Guardian (emphasis added):
As the media world's most powerful figures gather in Sun Valley, Idaho to discuss the state of the industry the topics are likely to range far and wide. But aside from subjects like the economy and the influence of the internet, one question is likely to dominate conversations among the event's moguls and millionaires: will anyone broker a deal to buy Twitter?
The hyped internet company's chief executive, Evan Williams, is one of hundreds of faces attending the shindig - a high-profile but secretive event organised by investment group Allen & Co. The fact that his fellow attendees reads like a Who's Who of the internet industry - including Google boss Eric Schmidt, Amazon's Jeff Bezos, new AOL chief Tim Armstrong, and media magnates Barry Diller and Rupert Murdoch - has lead some to speculate that an acquisition could be on the cards.
Among those who believe a deal could be brokered at Sun Valley is journalist and entrepreneur Michael Wolff, who believes Murdoch could be ready to make a play for the San Francisco startup.
Talking to Yahoo, Wolff said that Murdoch showed no evidence of regretting the purchase of MySpace, the social network he bought in 2005 that recently underwent severe cutbacks.
"I don't think he feels that he was burned badly," he said. "They made a good deal and then the company soared to a theoretical valuation of $15bn. Where is it now? Certainly not at $15bn, but I think it's probably over $600m - though maybe not too much."
Wolff, who wrote a biography of the 78-year-old and now runs a news aggregation website, said that Twitter could add substance to Murdoch's online empire.
"I think they would say that they were caught," he said of the MySpace acquisition. 'They didn't have the technological heft to support this kind of company. Could they get that technological heft by adding Twitter to their formidable new media assets?"