During last night’s Democratic National Convention, the issue of climate change received attention from more than a dozen speakers and an entire portion of the night was dedicated to making the case for urgent climate action, including a video on presumptive presidential nominee Joe Biden’s climate plan.
In response, right-wing media figures and Fox News pushed out two persistent lies and one new falsehood about Biden’s climate plan, falsely claiming that it will ban fracking; that his climate plan is the Green New Deal; and that Biden’s plan will spread the blackouts California is currently experiencing across the country.
1. FALSE: Biden’s climate plan will ban fracking
Since Democratic nominee Joe Biden unveiled his climate plan on July 14, right-wing media and Fox News in particular has pushed the false narrative that Biden will ban fracking if he is elected, which they claim will result in the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs in critical battleground states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, and Texas. Over the course of one month following the announcement of Biden’s plan, from July 14 to August 14, Fox pushed out this lie at least 37 times.
In reality, Biden is calling for an end to new federal oil and gas permits for drilling on public land. The majority of U.S. production is done on private land, and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management says production on federal land accounted for less than 10% of oil and gas in 2018. Despite this, Fox and other right-wing outlets have insisted that Biden will capitulate to what they have characterized as the “radical” figures in the Democratic Party who are calling for a ban on all fracking, including Biden’s running mate Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) -- already a frequent target of such attacks from conservative media.
While the case for an urgent and bold response to the climate crisis was being made at the Democratic National Convention, Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity claimed that Harris “will eliminate fracking” and posed this question to guest Eric Trump:
SEAN HANNITY (HOST): How is ending fracking and eliminating all fossil fuels, how is that going to fly in Pennsylvania and in Wisconsin and in Ohio and Midwestern states where your dad did bring the jobs back that Biden and Obama said weren’t coming back?
Other right-wing figures and institutions echoed this false narrative throughout the night:
2. FALSE: Biden’s climate plan is the Green New Deal
Akin to the false narrative that Biden will ban fracking is the right-wing media lie that his climate plan was cut and pasted from the proposed Green New Deal. This deliberate mischaracterization of his plan also relies on suggesting that because one of the Green New Deal’s sponsors, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), was a co-chair on the panel advising Biden on climate policy, then his climate plan is the same as the Green New Deal.
While sharing some of the same elements intended to shift to a clean energy economy, Biden’s plan is narrowly focused on addressing climate change and job creation, while the Green New Deal is a sweeping proposal that also seeks to address economic inequality and includes policy proposals around health care, education, and housing, among other issues.
It also conveniently allows right-wing media to leverage a more than yearlong campaign to vilify the Green New Deal and equate the proposal with radical socialism and supposed economic destruction. In fact, Fox News wasted no time branding Biden’s climate proposal as the Green New Deal in its initial coverage.
Here are examples of how right-wing media figures pushed this idea on day three of the Democratic National Convention:
During the July 19 edition of America’s Newsroom, Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniels told Fox anchor Sandra Smith:
RONNA MCDANIEL (RNC CHAIR): I think last night was about Joe Biden of 2004 or 2008. And they aren't talking about the Joe Biden [of] 2020 who has embraced AOC and Bernie Sanders, the Joe Biden who has said we're going to kill every energy job in this country, the Joe Biden who is embracing the Green New Deal, the Joe Biden who last night said we're going to give free four-year college to everybody. What does that mean? Your taxes are going to go through the roof and he is going to bankrupt this country as he is a bridge to socialism. They aren't highlighting the policies he is running on, they're talking about what a good guy he is. Well, he’s not a good guy when he’s raising taxes on 82% of American households.
In an exchange between co-hosts Jesse Watters and Juan Williams, on the July 19 edition of Fox News’ The Five, Watters dismissed the fact that the Green New Deal is not part of the Democratic platform:
JESSE WATTERS (CO-HOST): Trust me. He is going to get strong-armed into doing whatever the far left wants on the environment. He already had to walk back what he said about fracking because he knows how insane that was.
During the DNC on Wednesday, other right-wing figures and institutions spread this idea on Twitter:
3. FALSE: Biden’s climate plan will spread the blackouts in California across the country
Another false narrative about Biden’s platform that was re-upped last night was the right-wing media’s weaponization of California’s blackouts.
When the state began experiencing rolling power outages on Friday, right-wing media falsely claimed that California’s embrace of renewable energy was to blame and seized on the opportunity to claim that Biden’s climate plan would bring these types of blackouts to the rest of the country. On August 18, the Washington Examiner’s Abby Smith turned a tweet by the president into an article titled “Trump says Biden climate plans would replicate California blackouts across the country.” Similarly, conservative writer James Delingpole published a piece in Breitbart on August 19 titled “Like the California Blackouts? Then You’ll LOVE President Joe Biden’s Green Energy Plans.”
On the August 18 edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered Overtime, Fox contributor Lisa Boothe pushed this narrative during a discussion of Ocasio-Cortez’s role at the convention:
LISA BOOTHE (CONTRIBUTOR): Biden has already embraced left -- progressivism. We have seen that picking Kamala Harris, the most liberal senator to be his VP, and also embracing Bernie and AOC on his climate agenda, which is going to hurt him immensely in states like Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, where you look at Pennsylvania alone could lose hundreds of thousands of jobs as a result of Biden wanting to eliminate fossil fuels. Or looking at states like California who are facing millions of Californians are facing losing power because the state has diverted billions of dollars to renewable energy which doesn't work, is inefficient, and is not even environmentally friendly.
On The Ingraham Angle, Hoover Institution senior fellow Victor Davis Hanson told Fox News host Laura Ingraham that Democrats are “incapable of offering a positive agenda,” linking it to fracking in Pennsylvania and blackouts in California:
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON (HOOVER INSTITUTION): If you are a fracker in Pennsylvania, you didn't hear what's in it for your future. Here in California, it’s 109 today and we've had these rolling blackouts because of voluntarily retiring 4,000 megawatts to have our new green deal -- it’s here in California. Is that what the rest of the country wants?
Here are examples of other right-wing media figures who used the night’s convention as opportunity to push this misinformation: