Author Page | Media Matters for America

Fae Jencks

Author ››› Fae Jencks
  • REPORT: Opponents Of EPA Climate Action Dominate TV News Airwaves


    Media Matters analyzed television news guests who discussed the Environmental Protection Agency's role in regulating greenhouse gas emissions from December 2009 through April 2011. Driven largely by Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network, results show that in 76 percent of those appearances, the guest was opposed to EPA regulations while 18 percent were in favor. Of the appearances by elected officials, 86 percent were Republican. Only one guest in 17 months of coverage across nine news outlets was a climate scientist -- industry-funded Patrick Michaels.

  • CRS Undermines Right-Wing Talking Point On Big Oil's Tax Breaks

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    Conservative media have criticized legislative proposals to roll back tax breaks for the largest oil companies by pushing the notion that doing so would mean "the price of gasoline and oil is going to go up," as the Wall Street Journal's Stephen Moore put it.

    The Washington Examiner also repeatedly asserted that the Congressional Research Service backed up their claim, pointing to a months-old CRS analysis of President Obama's proposed FY 2012 budget, which included provisions that are not in the current proposal.

    However, energy experts contacted by Media Matters stated that cutting the tax incentives would have little to no effect on prices at the pump, given the scale of the world oil market. And now the Congressional Research Service itself has weighed in. The New York Times reports:

    The nonpartisan research group predicted a negligible impact on the price of gasoline from eliminating a series of tax benefits. Responding to an inquiry from Senate Democrats, the service said that with the cost of oil over $100 per barrel, "prices are well in excess of costs and a small increase in taxes would be less likely to reduce oil output, and hence increase petroleum product (gasoline) prices."

    In a review of the five specific tax changes being advocated by Democrats, the research service also said that tightening the tax code would make a very small dent in the huge revenues of the industry and that the price of oil hinges on many other larger considerations.

  • Fox Uses Suspect Statistic To Downplay Oil Company Profits

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    While the Senate Finance Committee hosted executives from five major oil companies to evaluate the necessity of certain tax breaks enjoyed by their industry, Fox took to defending the profits of these companies using a misleading comparison between industry profits and taxes placed on the gas that is sold to American consumers.

    It began with the usual suspects, Fox Business' Stuart Varney and Andrew Napolitano. On his Fox Business show, Varney marveled at a statistic Napolitano cited which suggests that while oil companies only make 7 cents for every gallon of gas sold, the government collects a full 88 cents per gallon. Needless to say, Varney and Napolitano lamented the injustice of oil executives having to defend their comparatively meager profits while the government gets away with this egregious "gouging":

    Napolitano claims that he's getting these statistics from a recent document published by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. However a search of the publications issued by the CBO in the past month shows no such calculation. Who did recently push these numbers? Why, none other than ExxonMobil.

  • Stanford Scientist Criticizes Fox Distortion Of His Climate Study

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    With what must be one of their more obtuse headlines, Fox Nation misrepresented a recent study on the impact of climate change on the world's crops, proclaiming that it showed "No Global Warming In North America":

    Got that? The globe is not warming in North America -- just like the United States doesn't have an unemployment problem in North Dakota.

    What's more is that the study Fox Nation refers to doesn't actually contend that there have been no global warming effects in North America. Here, Fox is echoing an Ottawa Citizen headline which stated: "Climate change hardly visible in North America: Canada U.S. buck trend, scientists say." This too is a misrepresentation of the research.

    In fact, the study examined only crop-producing regions and only during the growing seasons of corn, rice, maize, and wheat.The research indicated that those specific regions in the U.S. have not seen the same warming trend evident in global average temperatures over the past 30 years. (Indeed, no climate scientist would say the planet is expected to warm uniformly).

    Stanford's David Lobell, one of the authors of the study, explained in an email that he was "disappointed" in both the Fox Nation and Ottawa Citizen coverage, which "do not accurately portray our findings." He added:

    The study was only focusing on one aspect of climate change (impacts on agriculture) and looked only in the parts of the countries where and times of year when certain crops are grown. for example, if one looks at winter temperatures in these regions, it would paint a different picture. also, the lack of trend in any one region has very little bearing on whether global warming is happening.

  • Palin Wrong Again On Cause Of High Gas Prices

    ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    Fox News contributor Sarah Palin claimed that gasoline prices have doubled since President Obama took office because the administration is "decreasing the amount of energy in our market domestically." In fact, this claim has already been debunked by energy experts, and even those who disagree with Obama's energy policies have said that it's simply not accurate to blame those policies for the current spike in gas prices.

  • Right-Wing Media Celebrate Earth Day By Mocking Conservation

    ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    In the lead-up to Earth Day, members of the right-wing media have ridiculed conservation efforts and downplayed the concerns of environmentalists. This is nothing new for conservative media figures who have, in the past, used the Earth Day to attack conservationists by urging audiences to cut down trees and increase their energy consumption.

  • Hannity Completely Misses Big Picture On Coal And Asthma

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    Last night, on his Fox News show, Sean Hannity tried to play 'gotcha' with comments made by President Obama at a recent town hall event by pointing out that Obama said coal-fired plants cause pollution that is "creating asthma for kids nearby." Hannity dismissed the connection between asthma and coal pollution, pointing out that "the exact cause of asthma is not known," but was too preoccupied with discrediting Obama to mention that pollution from coal plants exacerbates asthma symptoms and can trigger attacks.

    A 2001 study by the Harvard School of Public Health found that two coal-powered plants in Chicago were responsible for 2,800 asthma attacks per year. Likewise, the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America states that "Substantial scientific evidence" has linked air pollutants like sulfur dioxide -- a compound released when coal is burned -- to respiratory problems. Specifically, the AAFA states that "People prone to allergy, especially those with allergic asthma, can be extremely sensitive to inhaled sulfur dioxide."

    Coal-burning plants also produce nitrogen oxides. According to the Environmental Defense Fund, "Nitrogen oxides play a major role in the formation of ground-level ozone (or smog) in the summertime. Smog triggers millions of asthma attacks each year in the U.S., and worsens or causes other respiratory ailments."

  • Report Glosses Over Media Failures In Climate Coverage

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG & FAE JENCKS

    In a new report titled "Climate Shift: Clear Vision For The Next Decade Of Public Debate," Matthew Nisbet of American University attempts to debunk environmentalists' complaints about media coverage of climate change. However, the evidence presented in the report is far more limited than the conclusion it seeks to draw.


    Joe Romm of ClimateProgress reported on April 18 that environmental communication expert Robert J. Brulle "had his name pulled off the report's list of expert paid reviewers late last week when he finally saw the whole finished report." Brulle disputes the report's conclusion that environmental groups "have closed the financial gap with their longstanding opponents among conservative think tanks, groups and industry associations."

    Brulle also takes issue with the report's media analysis. Nisbet states in the Executive Summary of the report that "the era of false balance in news coverage of climate science has come to an end. In comparison to other factors, the impact of conservative media and commentators on wider public opinion remains limited."

    According to Romm, Brulle stated: "I think this conclusion is bogus." Romm further reported that Max Boykoff, who has studied media coverage of climate change extensively and is listed as a member of the report's panel of expert reviewers, said that "This particular conclusion reaches beyond the findings in the study."


    Nisbet set out to "assess the performance of the mainstream news media in 2009 and 2010" and concludes in his Executive Summary that "major U.S. news organizations have overwhelmingly portrayed the consensus view on the reality and causes of climate change" (the consensus view being that global warming is real and humans are contributing to it.) Nisbet's broader argument is that environmentalists were not "out-communicated" by their opponents during the debate over cap and trade legislation in 2009 and 2010.

    However, the study was limited to only 5 news outlets: The New York Times, The Washington Post,, Politico and The Wall Street Journal.

    According to a survey conducted in December 2010 by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, 66 percent of Americans say television is their main source of news. Nisbet's study purports to represent the performance of "the mainstream media" but does not include a single television outlet.

  • Bolling Dismisses Role of Speculators In Oil Price Spike

    Blog ››› ››› FAE JENCKS

    When Fox's Eric Bolling finds a talking point he likes, he just won't let it go, especially when it comes to providing viewers with misleading and outright false information as part of his push for increasing domestic oil production.

    On Fox News' America Live yesterday, Bolling sat down with host Martha MacCallum and Reuters' David Sheppard to discuss GOP proposals to speed up offshore drilling. When Sheppard rebuffed the notion that increased production of oil in the United States would lower gasoline prices, Bolling doubled down on his tired talking points, repeating the claim - which energy experts have deemed "nonsense" - that oil prices dropped "from $147 to $33 a barrel in six months" in 2008 because President Bush announced the removal of the presidential moratorium on offshore drilling.

    Bolling went on to dismiss the effect of speculation on oil prices, claiming that "There are economic reasons for oil to go up or down. If you take away that economic reason, if you add supply to the market it can't rally. You can't blame speculators and you certainly can't blame any futures traders. It really -- you just need more oil." However, as Sheppard reported for Reuters, an analysis by Goldman Sachs suggests "speculators are boosting crude prices as much as $27 a barrel":