On January 5, Fox host Jesse Watters attacked AP News’ climate coverage, seemingly in response to a story dispelling offshore wind misinformation. The segment repeated the false claim — debunked by several fact checks from a variety of sources — that offshore wind development is killing whales.
The same false claim appeared on Fox News at least as early as December 2022 and proliferated on the network throughout 2023, with at least 54 segments pushing the misinformation seemingly intended to hurt support for offshore wind.
In early 2023, Fox News helped propel the false narrative into a right-wing media story which has persisted even though no evidence supports the link between the slew of whale deaths along the East Coast and offshore wind development.
An analysis by Media Matters found that:
- Fox News aired at least 54 segments suggesting that offshore wind development is causing whale deaths. At least 15 programs on the network have reported on the false link between offshore wind and whale deaths, including the network’s so-called straight news program Special Report With Bret Baier.
- 12 of the 54 (22%) segments appeared on Fox & Friends (on its daily or weekend program), 11 of the 54 (20%) segments appeared on Jesse Watters Primetime, and 9 (17%) appeared on The Story with Martha MacCullum.
- 26 of 54 segments aired in the first two months of 2023. With 14 segments, coverage peaked in February 2023. At least one segment pushing the false claim appeared on Fox every month of 2023 except May and October.
A December report by the Center for American Progress illustrates how the fossil fuel industry is bankrolling offshore wind misinformation, “with money flowing through interest groups, think tanks, and astroturf groups to achieve its ultimate goal of slowing, if not stopping, the expansion of offshore wind in the United States.”
Fox News has played a key role in the proliferation of offshore wind misinformation by regularly airing false claims about the technology and providing a platform to some of the groups identified in the report, including Protect Our Coast NJ and people associated with the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Environmental Progress, whose founder and president, Michael Shellenberger, has appeared frequently on Fox News to spread offshore wind misinformation.
A Media Matters review of transcripts in the Kinetiq video database from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2023, found that Fox News ran at least 54 segments linking offshore wind development to whale deaths, which we defined as instances either when offshore wind farms were the stated topic of discussion and a speaker in the discussion mentioned whales or when whale deaths were the stated topic of discussion and a speaker in the segment mentioned wind power.