After relentlessly pushing the false claim that the so-called "Climategate" controversy showed climate scientists deceitfully manipulating data, conservative media are celebrating a Rasmussen Reports poll finding that a majority of Americans believe "some scientists" have likely "falsified research data" to support "their own theories and beliefs about global warming."
"Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?" That's the first sentence of a July 29 Fox News article about a recent study which shows nothing of the sort, demonstrating just how broken climate change coverage is at news outlets like Fox, where scientific illiteracy meets political slant.
Last week, Roy Spencer of the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH), one of the few climate scientists who think we don't need to worry much about global warming, published a paper purportedly challenging mainstream climate models that is both limited in scope and, by many accounts, flawed. After a Forbes column by James Taylor of the libertarian Heartland Institute misinterpreted the study and declared that it blows a "gaping hole in global warming alarmism," an avalanche of conservative media outlets, including Fox, followed suit:
The last week has been a busy one on the net neutrality front, with a cadre of Democratic senators calling on Congress to preserve funding for net neutrality regulations, and the FCC announcing that those regulations, after many months of delay, will be entered into the federal register, thus opening the door for telecom companies to file appeals (Verizon has been chomping at the legal bit ever since their initial appeal was denied).
It's not surprising, then, that Republican officials are showing up on Fox News to get the anti-net neutrality message out. Last Thursday, Republican FCC commissioner Robert McDowell appeared on FoxNews.com's Power Play to discuss net neutrality, and got a big assist from host Chris Stirewalt in spreading misinformation about net neutrality rules.
Early on in the kid-gloved interview, Stirewalt described net neutrality as "the shorthand term for having federal regulations of the internet, FCC regulations of the internet." This is imprecise and, as we'll see in a minute, part of a broader falsehood. Net neutrality rules are not "federal regulations of the internet." They are regulations on internet service providers that prevent them from controlling user access to lawful content and discriminating against content providers.
The right-wing media reacted to President Obama's address on troop withdrawals in Afghanistan by dredging up familiar, petty attacks, such as criticizing the number of times Obama referred to himself, and claiming the address was a "campaign speech" instead of a "war update." This follows a long history of the right-wing media launching frivolous attacks over speeches Obama makes on all manner of issues.
Earlier today, one of Fox News' websites, FoxNews.com, reported that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin is "end[ing] her 'One Nation' bus tour" and returning home where "it's prime salmon fishing season" this time of year. Palin subsequently fired off a tweet sarcastically asking "I did?" and saying that the media "never cease to amaze."
And then another Fox News website, the Fox Nation, jumped in to defend Palin against the report by its sister website, reporting that Palin "quiets bus tour rumors." Palin later jumped back into the fray with a Facebook post decrying reports from unnamed media outlets that her bus tour had been canceled. Palin ended her Facebook note by declaring that these unnamed media outlets have a "long track record of getting things wrong or just making things up."
Below the fold are the conflicting headlines (all generated by one news source: Fox News):
With the fake "Climategate" scandal thoroughly and incontrovertibly debunked, the right-wing media are pushing a new round of bogus climate science accusations, and the familiar Fox Cycle pattern is again revving up. Right-wing activists and Fox News are working to push climate misinformation into the mainstream press, and the mainstream press have a responsibility not to repeat the failures of the "Climategate" fiasco.
On June 17, FoxNews.com published an article asking whether climate scientists are "doctoring the data" showing rising sea levels. The reporter, Maxim Lott, based his story on a May 11 Forbes.com blog post by the Heartland Institute's James Taylor, who accused the University of Colorado's Sea Level Research Group of "doctor[ing] sea level data." Taylor came to this conclusion after Professor Steve Nerem of the research group posted a blog entry a few days earlier explaining that they added a correction to their sea level data to account for expanding ocean basins. The correction, as Media Matters documented, is a standard scientific procedure about which there is "nothing controversial," to borrow the words of one leading climate scientist. Taylor, however, seemed to think that he caught a climate scientist announcing via the internet how he was tampering with his data.
As the story made the subtle transformation from overt right-wing activism to Fox News "journalism," important details were left by the wayside. Fox News' Lott contacted Nerem, who told Lott that "this is a scientifically well-understood correction" that is used by other groups, but that key bit of information never made it into the final story. The article quoted a climate scientist appearing to bolster Taylor's claim of "doctoring," but that same scientist told Media Matters that he "would object to making that accusation."
Following the lead of the Heartland Institute, Fox News trumpeted the utterly baseless claim that scientists at the University of Colorado are "doctoring" sea level data to "exaggerate the effects of global warming." In reality, the scientists used a standard and transparent procedure performed by other research groups around the world, and even the climate skeptic cited by Fox News objects to the implication that the group engaged in scientific wrongdoing.
Continuing its pattern of hyping ridiculous conspiracy theories to attack the Obama administration, Fox News baselessly suggested that the ATF's Operation Fast and Furious was deliberately designed to go badly in order to justify stricter U.S. gun laws. In fact, even a report prepared for House Oversight Committee Chairman Darrell Issa (R-CA) and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) refutes this theory.
On June 1, 2011, Fox News released its official iPad application. The application is free for download and is currently financially supported by a sole sponsor, ExxonMobil.
Mashable's Ben Parr, who spoke with Jeremy Steinberg, Fox News VP of digital media ad sales and business development, provides some additional information:
Users will also notice something else about the app: the prominent placement of ExxonMobil advertising throughout the app. Exxon is the exclusive launch partner for Fox News's iPad app. "We decided we wanted to work with one sponsor," Steinberg said, explaining that there are always question marks surrounding a launch, so Fox News wanted a partner comfortable with that. He said Exxon, which is in the midst of a new branding campaign, thought the app was a perfect platform for broadcasting its message.
Given Fox News' long history of deliberately propagating climate science misinformation, it's fitting that Exxon reportedly believes Fox's new app provides a perfect platform for disseminating its message.
After a blizzard struck New York City last year, right-wing media were quick to smear unions, using a bogus allegation that a planned union slowdown delayed cleanup efforts. Even then, New York City officials took responsibility for the slow response. Now, a report by the New York City Department Of Investigation says that the source of the slowdown claim "contributed no actual evidence about a possible slowdown."
Fox News, WorldNetDaily and the Washington Examiner have written stories based on a report produced by the conservative watchdog Judicial Watch alleging that the FCC "colluded with the leftist Free Press organization to publicly push a new plan to regulate the Internet under the FCC's so-called 'net neutrality' program."
The allegation of collusion here is about as valid as WorldNetDaily's ongoing quest to find the "real" Obama birth certificate. The evidence Judicial Watch uses to justify their allegation comes from emails between FCC Commissioner Michael Copps and media reform organization Free Press. The e-mails detail communications between Copps and Free Press regarding the placement of an op-ed in favor of net neutrality regulations (which would guarantee that internet service providers can't favor their own content over others) , as well as arrangements for a meeting between Copps and a representative of Free Press.
None of this is unusual. Government officials regularly meet and speak before outside groups, like the conservative Heritage Foundation and the progressive Center For American Progress. For example, Republican FCC commissioner Robert M. McDowell was invited to speak at Americans For Prosperity's (AFP) Right Online conference in 2010. In his speech, McDowell expressed his opposition to net neutrality legislation. Americans For Prosperity has devoted significant resources to opposing net neutrality, including creating an advocacy website at NoInternetTakeOver.com. By Judicial Watch's definition, this is evidence of McDowell "colluding" with AFP.
FoxNews.com today published an op-ed by self-described "Fox News Democrat" Doug Schoen defending Fox News from charges that it's "devoted primarily, if not entirely, to promoting Republican candidates and Republican talking points." Schoen's op-ed is riddled with false defenses of his employer.
For starters, Schoen claims that "I can honestly say that there's never been an effort, organized or otherwise, to get me or to my knowledge anyone else to advance a particular point of view." But Fox News vice president and Washington managing editor Bill Sammon has been recently caught doing exactly that. Internal emails show that Sammon ordered his news staff to cast doubt on established climate science; directed his staff not to use the phrase "public option"; and a source with knowledge of the situation at Fox's Washington bureau told Media Matters that Sammon exerts "pressure" on his staff to "slant news to the right."
Schoen also writes that "I understand that the point of view presented is not that of the left, but its also not that of the Republican National Committee." Yet Fox News regularly echoes Republican talking points and has been caught literally plagiarizing material from the GOP.
Schoen adds that Fox News has "sought the highest quality Democrats," pointing to himself and Pat Caddell, among others, as two examples. But the presence of those two actually illustrates part of the problem. Schoen writes that he and Caddell "tend to be more moderate" than "a mainstream liberal" like Bob Beckel. That's one way of putting it -- as Media Matters has pointed out:
Schoen donated to one GOP congressional candidate [last] cycle, and headlined a fundraiser for a second. In February , Caddell was fired from the campaign of Colorado Democratic Senate candidate Andrew Romanoff after video emerged of Caddell at a conservative retreat saying that "[t]he whole idea of the environmental movement" is "to basically deconstruct capitalism."
We're shown how on issue after issue, it's difficult to find daylight between the commentary of Schoen and Caddell and that of Rush Limbaugh and other right-wing figures. Caddell has accused Obama of conducting a "Potemkin village presidency" and "Chicago gangsterism." Schoen has claimed that the "real question" raised by the White House's actions is "Is this a democracy?" And on, and on, and on.
In November 2010, Schoen and Caddell were scheduled to appear (.pdf) at a fundraising retreat benefiting conservative activist David Horowitz's organization. Caddell spoke as scheduled, but a note on FrontPageMag.com said that Schoen "got stuck in an airport and couldn't make" his scheduled panel.* Still, Schoen and Caddell are regularly put on Fox News to represent the Democratic side of an issue.
Schoen concludes that Fox News is actually "just good television organized by smart executives, whose political perspective may not be my own, but whose commitment to professionalism and excellence appears clear and unambiguous." Clarity, it seems, is easy if you're getting a paycheck from Fox News.
*Further information about the retreat added.
Media Research Center (MRC) and Fox News appear to be telling journalists that if they investigate the business dealings of billionaire T. Boone Pickens, you will be attacked.
In his bio on FoxNews.com, MRC "Vice President for Business and Culture" Gainor is listed as "the Boone Pickens Fellow" for MRC. Pickens is described by MRC as an "MRC Trustee," has presented at the MRC's annual DisHonor Awards, is listed in their most recent annual report available online (2008) as a "trustee," and was described by MRC founder Brent Bozell in 2006 as "a friend" who "supports" the Media Research Center. Pickens reportedly donated $1 million to the Swift Boat Veterans for The Truth in 2004.
Gainor has written an opinion piece on FoxNews.com attacking progressive philanthropist (and Media Matters donor) George Soros for his donations via the Open Society Foundation into journalistic operations like the non-profit ProPublica:
The ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers who used to work at some of the biggest news outlets in the nation. But the topics are almost laughably left-wing. The site's proud list of "Our Investigations" includes attacks on oil companies, gas companies, the health care industry, for-profit schools and more. More than 100 stories on the latest lefty cause: opposition to drilling for natural gas by hydraulic fracking. Another 100 on the evils of the foreclosure industry.
Gainor doesn't seem to have any problem with the factual output of ProPublica, just the fact that it exists and investigates issues. He even says "[t]he ProPublica stories are thoroughly researched by top-notch staffers." So, why the hate?
In news reports on a House Republican proposal that would require the Obama administration to open new areas to offshore drilling, Fox News correspondent William La Jeunesse claimed that "97 percent of America's offshore oil remains off-limits." In fact, the areas already open to drilling contain the "vast majority" of estimated offshore oil resources, according to the Energy Information Administration.
After weeks of demanding President Obama "produce the birth certificate" so it can be "over [and] done with," right-wing media figures have begun attacking Obama for releasing his long-form birth certificate, claiming it was done as a "distraction" and complaining it was done to "personally put down his detractors."