The New York Times reports on the newest brand extension from Rupert and Lachlan Murdoch’s Fox Corp.: Fox Weather, a 24-hour streaming channel set to launch this year, which aims to compete with The Weather Channel.
The piece has lots of details and a bit of history, but the most notable part is actually a media buyer on the record openly laughing at Fox trying this after years of sowing doubt about climate change:
Brian Wieser, the lead analyst at GroupM, the media investing arm of the ad giant WPP, laughed at the notion that weather could be considered apolitical. “You would think — except I’m sitting here in Portland, Ore., in 115 degrees,” he said. “I don’t know that it’s an uncontroversial topic.”
Referring to Fox Weather, he added: “How do you address the fact that weather changes are caused to some degree by humans when you have a media property with a history of challenging that fact?”
While the piece notes that advertisers “see weather as a relatively uncontroversial port in the squall,” this simply has not proven to be the case at Fox. As we have previously noted, insurance companies that have publicly “acknowledged the severe threat of both COVID-19 and the climate crisis” have sponsored Fox’s misleading coverage on both of these issues. But quotes like Wieser’s show that such misleading coverage is already starting to shift the calculus of advertisers.
Obviously, not every weather event has ties to the climate crisis -- but many do. And the record heat waves, record droughts, record forest fires, record hurricanes, and record flooding all have clear connections to the climate crisis. But Fox News repeatedly ignores or outright denies those connections in favor of dumb political attacks.
It’s not just the opinion shows at Fox News that deny the reality of climate change. The “hard news” side -- and especially chief political anchor Bret Baier -- has a horrible record on climate change coverage, one that continues to this day. When former President Donald Trump outright lied about Hurricane Dorian, using a Sharpie to manufacture a threat to Alabama, not only did prime-time host Sean Hannity defend him, but Fox’s Howard Kurtz attacked the media for covering Trump’s comments.
Weather coverage is dominated by extreme weather events. Fox’s coverage of them has proven to be terrible, and there’s no reason to believe that in the big picture, Fox Weather will be any better.