We noted in June that Fox News' iPad app was sponsored exclusively by ExxonMobil, a corporation known for paying think tanks to obfuscate the scientific consensus on climate change. Now FoxNews.com's “Planet Earth” section is also brought to you by the oil giant:
Earlier this year, FoxNews.com sought to debunk the fact that Earth has warmed over the past 30 years, as well as the notion that human activity has contributed to the warming with a “Planet Earth” article, portions of which “are utter nonsense” and “do not make sense” according to climatologists consulted by Media Matters.
Two recent stories that Fox News' Planet Earth section ran on climate change were based around claims pushed by the Heartland Institute's James Taylor and quoted Taylor's views. A post by Taylor, which baselessly claimed a research group “doctors sea level data” to exaggerate climate change, inspired a FoxNews.com article asking, “Is climate change raising sea levels, as Al Gore has argued -- or are climate scientists doctoring the data?”
And after a Forbes column by Taylor misinterpreted a climate study and declared that it blows a “gaping hole in global warming alarmism,” Fox News' Planet Earth asked “Has a central tenant [sic] of global warming just collapsed?” The article falsely claimed the study showed the “planet isn't heating up” and featured this image and caption:
The Heartland Institute is a libertarian think tank that hosts regular conferences disputing mainstream climate science and received $676,500 from ExxonMobil between 1998 and 2006, including $90,000 specifically for “General Operating Support -- Climate Change.”
ExxonMobil pledged in 2008 to stop funding groups “whose positions on climate change could divert attention” from the need to develop secure, clean energy. But Exxon's continued funding of Fox News' ventures seems to contradict this pledge. Fox routinely pushes false claims about climate science, and it has even been the policy of Fox News to question the basic fact that the planet has warmed in recent decades.
UPDATE (9/2/11): FoxNews.com's Science & Technology section (including the Planet Earth subsection) and opinion page no longer display text stating that they are sponsored by ExxonMobil.
UPDATE #2: As of 9/19/11, FoxNews.com's Science & Technology section and opinion page display text stating that they are sponsored by ExxonMobil. The subsections of the SciTech section, including Planet Earth, no longer display this text.