Two members of a House committee focused on global warming issues are criticizing a top Fox News editor for directing reporters to slant coverage of the issue.
Rep. John Hall, D-New York, and Rep. Jay Inslee, D-Wash., took issue with an e-mail sent from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon to staffers in late 2009.
Media Matters disclosed the e-mail this week from Sammon that questioned the "veracity of climate change data" and ordered 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."
Hall and Inslee are members of the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming.
Hall responded by telling Media Matters: "It is what I already know about Fox, which is the coverage is slanted. It is regrettable that Fox's management would issue a directive like this to its supposed reporters ordering them to slant coverage. This is one of the more blatant examples I have seen of that."
Hall said the danger of such an approach is that it makes it difficult for the truth about global warming to be reported and, consequently, for steps to be taken to prevent it.
"The window of time we have left for action to prevent the worst case scenario may still be closing," he said. "We can't afford to waste two years if the changes are already happening. It is really important that the public gets educated. I do think Congress responds to public pressure. If the public is being misinformed, we have very little chance of reversing the trend."
Robert Kellar, communications director for Rep. Inslee, offered this statement in response to the Fox News e-mail:
I can't believe this would be actual news to anyone. FOX has been and continues to be a vehicle for Republican talking points. And this kind of news tampering would have to be organized from the top. No news reporter in their right mind would be so galactically stupid as to come up with this. I'm surprised we didn't see memos telling reporters to mention a controversy on gravity.
On a more serious note, Fox News shouldn't be so cavalier with their power. You may not agree with the policy, but report the facts and have a discussion. Fox has decided that Republican talking points are more important than information, even if it means their viewers wind up underwater.
Fox News has yet to respond to requests for comment on the e-mail.