For one brief moment over the weekend, Fox News did the unthinkable: acknowledge some of the real-world impacts of climate change in an online article about Tropical Storm Hermine. Soon afterward, though, Fox got back on message, erasing all mentions of global warming from the piece.
The Fox News article, which was initially attributed to The Associated Press and published on FoxNews.com on September 4, reported that climate scientists say “the storm surges pushed by Hermine could be even more damaging” because “sea levels have risen up to a foot due to global warming.” The article cited Penn State University scientist Michael Mann and Princeton University scientist Michael Oppenheimer, who each stated that warming-induced sea level rise has already significantly worsened flooding from major storms:
Forecasters expected Hermine to regain hurricane force on Sunday as it travels up the coast before weakening again to a tropical storm by Tuesday.
And since sea levels have risen up to a foot due to global warming, the storm surges pushed by Hermine could be even more damaging, climate scientists say.
Michael Mann at Pennsylvania State University noted that this century's one-foot sea-level rise in New York City meant 25 more square miles flooded during Superstorm Sandy, causing billions more in damage.
“We are already experiencing more and more flooding due to climate change in every storm,” said Michael Oppenheimer, a geosciences professor at Princeton University. “And it's only the beginning.”
It was a notable acknowledgement of climate science from Fox, a media outlet that previously directed its journalists to cast doubt on the science, and which continues to frequently deny the scientific consensus around human-caused climate change to this day.
But as it turned out, Fox News’ progress on climate change was short-lived. After FoxNews.com assumed “ownership” of the article by changing the article’s byline from The Associated Press to FoxNews.com (and adding a note stating that the AP had “contributed” to the report), Fox removed all of the portions of the article that related to climate change.
In other words, Fox indicated that while The Associated Press may choose to report on the impacts of climate change, Fox News will most certainly not. Or, as Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) coincidentally put it on September 5, the debate over climate change is over, "Except on Fox.”
Here's an excerpt of the original Associated Press article published on FoxNews.com on September 4:
Here's what that portion of the article looked like after the attribution was changed to FoxNews.com: