Fox News and Fox Business falsely blamed renewable energy for Texas blackouts 128 times over two days
As a historic winter snowstorm devastated Texas, personalities and guests on Fox News and its sister network Fox Business went to bat for the fossil-fuel industry by falsely blaming frozen wind turbines and green energy policies for statewide power outages a staggering 128 times since Monday evening. Fox has continued its false narrative even after other outlets already debunked the claim that renewable energy sources and green energy policies were solely or primarily the cause of the blackouts.
For instance, on the February 15, edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, host Tucker Carlson stated that “It seems pretty clear that a reckless reliance on windmills is the cause of this disaster.” On the February 16, edition of Fox & Friends, guest host Pete Hegseth began a segment on the Texas snowstorm by highlighting that the state’s “wind turbines are frozen solid” and then asking, “Is this what America would look like under the Green New Deal?” Numerous Fox segments ran chyrons claiming, “Frozen wind turbines cause blackouts in Texas.”
Overall, personalities and guests made such claims 104 times on Fox News and 24 times on Fox Business. The vast majority of those claims -- 75% -- came from journalists and pundits affiliated with either network.
Fox & Friends, including its early morning counterpart Fox & Friends First, pushed such claims the most -- 38 in total. Following with 16 claims each were Fox’s Tucker Carlson Tonight and America’s Newsroom -- a supposed “straight-news” show co-hosted by Dana Perino, a former White House press secretary for George W. Bush.
Contrary to claims on Fox, renewable energy sources and the shift toward green energy policies are not solely or primarily to blame for the current power outages in Texas. As Bloomberg reported, the cold weather wreaked “havoc on the region’s entire energy complex” and crippled “fossil-fuel and renewable resources alike.” Further, wind farm failures were not a large part of the state’s electricity issues. Rather than frozen wind turbines or green energy incentives, “systemic, long-standing issues with how Texas manages its power system” appear to be the primary culprits. In fact, a senior official from ERCOT, which runs the state’s power grid, has acknowledged that turbines were the “least significant factor in the blackouts” and that natural gas, coal, and nuclear played a bigger role.
Scientists have linked such extreme weather to the warming Arctic Circle, which is heating up faster than the rest of the planet, and a weakened Arctic jet stream that has driven frigid air south to the continental United States. But despite these direct connections between disruptive weather events and climate change, Fox continues to host industry-backed climate deniers like Marc Morano, who is the director of communications for the conservative and ExxonMobil- and Chevron-funded think-tank CFACT, and climate skeptics like Bjorn Lomborg, a Danish political scientist with a history of dismissing climate science.
The effort by Fox networks to push false claims about frozen wind turbines and green energy policies is just the latest example in a long-running, fossil-fuel industry supported campaign to discredit emerging renewable energy technology and deny overwhelming climate science pointing to the warming of the planet. It’s also just another attempt by Fox News to blame Democrats for any and every problem in America. Their argument that “the left” -- which has had no state-wide control in Texas in over a decade -- and that the Green New Deal -- which isn’t official policy anywhere, let alone Texas -- is to blame for Texas’ power problems is simply laughable.
Media Matters searched transcripts in the Snapstream video database for all original programming on Fox News Channel and Fox Business Network for any of the terms “Texas,” “outage,” “frozen,” “blackout,” “electricity,” “storm,” “power,” or “snow” within close proximity to any of the terms “wind,” “solar,” “turbine,” “green,” or “renewable” from 6:52 p.m. EST February 15 -- when Bloomberg first reported that blame for power outages in Texas due to the storm could not be solely or primarily placed with renewable energy nor the shift to renewable energy -- through noon EST February 17, 2021.
We reviewed any comments about the February 2021 Texas snowstorm that also mentioned renewable or green energy in any way. We included claims about renewable energy sources or green energy policies that either falsely claimed that renewable energy sources are the sole or primary cause of power outages in Texas or falsely claimed that a focus on building renewable energy sources in lieu of fossil fuel sources or the implementation of Green New Deal policies is the sole or primary cause of power outages in Texas.
We defined a single block of uninterrupted speech as a claim. For host monologues, which may extend for significant lengths without interruption, we defined each block of speech between clips or quotes as a single claim.
We split Fox programs into “straight news” and “opinion” sides. We defined “straight news” programs as those with anchors, such as Bret Baier or Shannon Bream, while we defined “opinion” programs as those with hosts, such as Tucker Carlson or Laura Ingraham, at the helm. We used the designations from each anchor’s or host’s author page on FoxNews.com. We also considered the format of the program; we defined those using a panel format, such as Outnumbered and The Five, as “opinion.”