A new study confirms that Fox News systematically paints a distorted picture of climate change, with the effect of worsening political polarization. Published by The International Journal Of Press/Politics, the study examined primetime cable news broadcasts from 2007 and 2008, and found that Fox “discussed climate change most often,” but “the tone of its coverage was disproportionately dismissive”:
According to the study, “Fox broadcasts were more likely to include statements that challenged the scientific agreement on climate change, undermined the reality of climate change, and questioned its human causes.”
Since 2008, Fox's climate coverage has only worsened.
As an internal email revealed, Fox's Washington managing editor Bill Sammon directed Fox journalists in December 2009 to cast doubt on the basic fact that the planet has warmed.
That same month, Fox News was aggressively promoting the false claim that the so-called “Climategate” controversy showed scientists "doctoring" data -- a claim that the network continues to repeat to this day.
Fox has also tried to manufacture a number of pseudo-scandals by distorting climate science research, misrepresenting or disavowing the temperature record, and seizing on any opportunity to distract from what the National Research Council has called “a strong, credible body of evidence” supporting manmade climate change.
The study also found that Fox hosted “a higher ratio of climate change doubters to believers as interview guests.” These guests often don't know what they're talking about but are presented as climate experts. And Fox, a network that has made an annual tradition out of mocking global warming during winter storms, reveals its bias through both what it chooses to cover, and what it chooses to ignore.
Fox News is a loud, popular, and influential network that is reinforcing its viewers misconceptions about climate science. The study concluded that “to the extent that Fox News presents a different view of reality than does CNN or MSNBC, the knowledge and opinions of the networks' respective audiences will likewise tend to polarize.”
Indeed, political party is now one of the strongest predictors of whether an individual thinks global warming is real. And the Republican party's stance on climate change has shifted considerably since 2007, when many prominent Republicans acknowledged global warming and called for government action to address the problem.
But the new study indicates that this polarization isn't hopeless, finding that “some Republicans, who as a group tend to be predisposed toward global warming skepticism, are less skeptical when exposed to information on the reality and urgency of climate change.”
The question is: When will other news outlets and Fox's parent company News Corp. -- which claims to be concerned about climate change -- hold Fox News accountable for its well documented pattern of inaccurate coverage?