Conservative media figures have been attacking climate change policies by claiming that they would harm the poor. But their feigned concern contradicts previous attacks on aid for the poor -- and the climate policies in question would actually help developing countries the most.
On September 23, President Obama spoke at the United Nations' climate summit to call for strong international action on climate change. His remarks were immediately met with mockery and criticism in conservative media, with Rush Limbaugh and Fox News' Greg Gutfeld claiming that climate action would hurt the poor. On Fox News' The Five, co-host Gutfeld complained that climate action is a way for "rich people" to "deny" resources to others, going on to say "there are no poor people in this fight." And on the September 23 edition of Limbaugh's show, Rush ranted that climate change regulations are going to keep "[t]hird world countries" poor:
LIMBAUGH: Do you know who these climate change regulations, this dream of limiting carbon emissions, do you know who it'll really affect? Third world countries are going to be kept poor. They are not going to be allowed economic growth.
So all of these things Obama and his buddies are dreaming about would keep poor people poor, and never allow them to make their way up.
But Limbaugh and Gutfeld -- and many conservative media pundits -- have a history of attacking policies that would help the developing countries for which they claimed to express concern. Limbaugh previously denounced United States' international aid efforts, lamenting that the U.S. is "practically the only one loaning any money" despite the fact that U.S. international aid programs at the time were less generous than some from other countries. Limbaugh also likened a United Nations Development Programme proposal to finance global problems to "rap[ing] the U.S. for $7 trillion."
Meanwhile, Gutfeld has mocked the serious security threat that small islands face from rising sea levels due to climate change, despite that many experts have determined that small islands "are expected to lose significant proportions of their land," and that many will become uninhabitable if global warming continues unabated. One such small island resident, Kathy Jetnil-Kijiner from the Marshall Islands, delivered a moving poem during the U.N. climate summit about how climate change could impact her child, and has impacted many nations already:
From the September 21 edition of Fox News' Fox News Sunday:
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Fox News brushed aside the value of Environmental Protection Agency research grants for clean cooking and heating technologies, saying that the dangerous indoor pollution from dirty stoves is only "a mere contribution" to 4.3 million deaths, and fearmongered that the EPA would soon come after American stoves. However, even Fox News' "favorite" environmental pundit has said that the fact that millions are dying from dirty cooking stoves -- more deaths than from AIDS and malaria combined -- is an "immediate problem."
A Fox News correspondent maligned Hillary Clinton for the State Department's alleged refusal to identify Boko Haram as a terrorist organization. In reality, during Mrs. Clinton's tenure as Secretary of State, the State Department identified three of the group's leaders as foreign terrorists and noted that they were connected to al Qaeda.
On Wednesday, the United States deployed 80 members of its armed forces to Chad to aid in the search for the Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Fox national security correspondent Jennifer Griffin jumped off this new development on the May 22 edition of Special Report, falsely claiming that the State Department "resisted" listing Boko Haram as "an Al Qaeda linked group" until November 2013 and implied that this characterization could have prevented the kidnapping:
A recent Union Leader editorial suggested Fmr. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) were partly to blame in failing to prevent the mass kidnapping of Nigerian schoolgirls by the terrorist group Boko Haram, because they did not designate the group as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO) in 2012. However, Clinton was the first to designate top Boko Haram leaders as terrorists, and many international organizations and experts on Africa agreed that designating the group as an FTO at that time was premature, as it would cut off foreign aid to the region, negotiation lanes with the group, and raise the profile of the organization.
The May 14 editorial accused Secretary Clinton and Senator Shaheen of delaying FTO designation of Boko Haram in an attempt to protect President Obama's al Qaeda-focused foreign policy agenda. The editorial continued by praising then-Senator Scott Brown's sponsoring of a 2012 bill seeking to list Boko Haram as an FTO, and claiming Secretary Clinton and Senator Shaheen were unwilling to prevent a "real war on women":
Designating Boko Haram as a terrorist organization, like admitting Benghazi was a terror attack, would have undermined -- during a presidential election year -- the President's narrative that he had curtailed the spread of Islamist terror. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee aided the President by killing the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act. Shaheen, ever the loyal partisan, sat in silence as a few senators tried in vain to weaken the group that two years later would kidnap hundreds of schoolgirls in an actual war on women, not the imaginary one in which Democrats accuse Scott Brown of taking part.
What does Scott Brown have to do with this? He was the sponsor of the Boko Haram Terrorist Designation Act. The man who tried in vain to stop a real war on women and on education (Boko Haram means Western Learning Forbidden) is accused of being anti-woman by allies of a senator who did nothing to stop those wars.
Despite the attempt by the Union Leader to cast Scott Brown as the real hero by attacking Shaheen and Clinton, the paper glossed over key facts which explain why the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and Secretary Clinton decided, at the time, not to designate the group an FTO.
As The Washington Post's Dana Milbank pointed out on May 13, right-wing media have been quick to falsely tie Hillary Clinton to the kidnapping of over 234 young school girls by an extremist group known as Boko Haram, which The New York Times described as a "cultlike Nigerian group" known for "senseless cruelty and capricious violence against civilians."
Milbank noted that the "nascent effort to pin blame for Boko Haram on Clinton ... shows how a scandal is born" -- highlighting the fact that while the abduction of hundreds of Nigerian school girls "has little to do with the United States," right-wing media have seized the opportunity to search "for ways to blame the kidnappings on the favorite for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination." And "inevitably the accusations landed on the House floor," parroted by Republican congressmen.
The smear kicked off with a Daily Beast article that relied on an anonymous official criticizing the former Secretary of State for previously turning down requests to designate Boko Haram a terrorist organization, implying that such a designation could have prevented the kidnapping.
Jumping to Fox News, host Steve Doocy argued that if Clinton had designated Boko Haram a foreign terrorist organization, it could have "saved these girls earlier," while anchor Megyn Kelly pushed the notion that Clinton had tried to appease Boko Haram.
Conservative congressmen picked up the baton, reportedly arguing on the House floor that Clinton "protected" Boko Haram.
But as Media Matters has explained, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was the first to blacklist top Boko Haram leaders, as the State Department identified three Boko Haram leaders as "foreign terrorists" in June 2012.
According to Reuters, the group's leaders were identified as terrorists rather than the group itself so as not to "elevate the group's profile," and academic experts on Africa agreed that such a group designation could embolden the terrorist group.
To use Milbanks' words, it's the "textbook example of the anatomy of a smear."
From the August 15 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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From the July 1 edition of Fox News' Hannity:
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Fox News portrayed the dismissal of British politician Christopher Monckton from the UN climate conference in Qatar as evidence that there was legitimate "dissent" against climate change being quashed. In fact, Monckton, who is known for incendiary antics and remarks, was expelled for violating the conference's code of conduct, and protesters on the other side of the issue were also expelled for similar violations.
Monckton was removed from the 2012 UN climate talks in Doha, Qatar, after impersonating a delegate from Myanmar in order to misleadingly claim that there has been "no global warming at all" for 16 years, obscuring the clear warming trend. He was subsequently barred from all future UN climate conferences.
The following morning, Fox & Friends seized on the episode to paint "Lord Monckton" as a martyr of climate "dissent" and bemoan a lack of "debate" on the issue. Co-host Brian Kilmeade claimed somewhat dubiously that "Everyone took notes and they learned from that, and global warming is indeed now wrong." Gretchen Carlson declared that the conference "was supposed to be a debate apparently at this convention, but a debate usually involves two different points of view. I guess this time they're just going to have one point of view." Steve Doocy conceded that Monckton had spoken out of turn in Doha, but concluded of his dismissal, "There goes for dissent."
But Monckton wasn't being singled out. A group of activists was also expelled from Doha for "unfurling an unauthorized banner calling for the Qatari hosts to lead the negotiations to a strong conclusion," according to Greenwire (subscription required). And contrary to Carlson's suggestion, the purpose of the Doha conference is not to "debate" the widely-accepted and extensively documented science behind manmade climate change. Rather, it is to "speed up global action towards a low-emission future where everyone has the chance of a sustainable life."
More significantly, Monckton, who has no formal scientific training, is a notorious and prolific peddler of climate myths, and he wasn't being punished for "dissent" -- he was expelled for "impersonating a Party" and violating the conference's code of conduct.
Fox News personalities have called for the United States to cut off foreign aid to several countries in the wake of protests and attacks on U.S. consulates abroad. However, top military officials and Republicans say cutting foreign aid is "foolish" and bad for national security.
Fox News contributor Dick Morris told Sean Hannity that "one world government" is "happening." His evidence consists of false statements about a series of treaties, some of which enjoy bipartisan support, are important for U.S. national security, and protect children from exploitation.
As many faith leaders have recognized, climate change presents a massive ethical challenge since those least responsible for global warming are among the most vulnerable to its consequences, including water scarcity, climate-sensitive diseases, and sea level rise. Yet in response to the recent international climate talks, conservative media outlets are mocking developing countries for seeking adaptation assistance, saying they just want to "cash in" on "climate gold."
Fox News hyped a report that G-20 leaders want to increase the resources of the IMF to claim that "the taxpayer in the United States will end up bailing out [Greece]." However, while G-20 leaders have discussed strengthening the IMF, the White House has already said that the U.S. will not be giving additional money to the fund. This story follows Fox's similarly misleading attacks in May, when President Obama visited Ireland ahead of a proposed EU bailout.
From the June 15 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor:
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From the May 24 edition of Fox News' Happening Now:
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