Fox News’s online coverage of the Texas winter storm and the ensuing power outages in the state has been focusing entirely on continued Republican attacks against progressive environmental proposals, even though Texas is a Republican-led state that keeps its energy grid separated from federal regulations. In the latest development, Fox is now accusing Democratic officials of trying to “capitalize” off the devastation — when in fact some of the Democrats it has mentioned have been providing direct charitable aid to Texas residents.
The network has been waging a propaganda campaign attempting to blame the state’s power outages on renewable energy sources and national environmental movements while also attempting to lie about the role of climate change in extreme weather events. (In fact, all energy sources in Texas are failing due to a lack of preparedness for a winter storm.
Among the Democratic politicians who have spoken out on the situation in Texas, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) has raised $5 million in charitable donations for non-profit groups providing aid to Texans affected from the winter storm and ensuing power outages in the state, and she also visited a food bank in Houston over the weekend. In addition, former Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-TX) has been working to help people during the crisis, as well as mobilizing his supporters throughout Texas from his Senate campaign in 2018 and his presidential campaign in 2019.
Tuesday afternoon, Fox’s home page contained a box item casting Ocasio-Cortez’s charity delivery to Texas as “Bad Energy,” with the headline claiming: “Top Dems, AOC descend on Texas to capitalize off of storm devastation.” The box showed a photo of Ocasio-Cortez in a split view with another photo, showing people delivering aid packages.
The linked article gave short shrift to the fact that Ocasio-Cortez visited the state in order to raise awareness for a private charity drive, instead focusing on the continued political discussions over energy sources. Following a quote from Republican Gov. Greg Abbott on the necessity of fossil fuels, the article then briefly mentioned: “Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-NY, who has raised millions for relief efforts in Houston and who is also a promoter of the controversial Green New Deal, has countered by saying the crisis was proof of the need for such a proposal.”
The article also said that O’Rourke had “pointed the blame at Republicans, saying ‘those in power have failed us,’” but didn’t mention any of his private relief efforts. By contrast, Fox covered Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) as “helping Texans” on the ground — which actually followed last week’s scandal of Cruz’s trip to a resort in Mexico and his rapid return after receiving severe criticism.
The article further claimed, “Republicans have claimed the Green New Deal would have made things worse” — a talking point which has been repeated in the network’s content elsewhere.
In an interview with Fox host Sean Hannity, for example, Abbott claimed that his state’s catastrophe “shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America” — though of course, the Green New Deal is not currently enforced in Texas, where progressives have no significant power at the state level. (Fox prime-time host Tucker Carlson went as far as telling his audience last week that “unbeknownst to most people, the Green New Deal came to Texas.”)
And while the Fox article repeated Abbott’s claims to Hannity, it also made no mention of something that Abbott has admitted in other settings: The state’s natural gas and coal infrastructure have also frozen over.
Indeed the article did not address the core problem that is actually causing the state’s energy sources to fail across the board: the state’s failure to winterize its electricity generation and delivery — even after prior negative experiences. Texas experienced a series of rolling blackouts 10 years ago from another winter storm. However, the state ignored warnings from federal agencies and failed to require that its facilities be sufficiently winterized, instead keeping costs low and with little government regulation.