Over the chyron “Climate Crazies Coming For Household Appliances,” Fox News host Jesse Watters used well-worn climate denier tropes to mock and fearmonger about local efforts to reduce climate-causing greenhouse gas emissions.
On the February 1 edition of his new show, Jesse Watters Primetime, Watters suggested that climate advocates’ effort to ban gas stoves is an attack on progress while relying on a familiar Fox narrative which equates climate action with infringement on personal liberties.
Although the segment never specified, Watters was presumably referring to the passage of a recent bill passed by New York City to ban “gas-powered heaters, stoves and water boilers in all new buildings,” which follows efforts by other major cities tackling climate change at the local level through similar gas bans and clean energy policies.
The segment included controversial celebrity chef Andrew Gruel, who made the case that not only would shifting to gas stoves “change the face of cooking – we’re going to be microwaving absolutely everything,” but also made the false claim that doing so would be a “tax on the lower class” because of the cost “to retrofit and rip a lot of these ethnic kitchens apart that rely on things like the wok.”
Again, the actual local bans that have been passed apply only to new buildings and do not mandate retrofitting or forcing current residents to make the shift away from gas stoves. But while false, the argument that the burden of climate transition will be borne by the poor and working class tracks for Fox, as it allows the network to continue running cover for the industries responsible for the vast majority of climate emissions and environmental degradation.
The segment also included Fox News contributor Raymond Arroyo, who was the only one who came close to acknowledging the climate crisis – “Jesse, they are worried about methane emissions, that's what this is really about” – but then suggested that a shift to electric stoves would actually hurt efforts to reduce methane use because a large part of our electrical grid still relies on fossil fuel sources, ignoring that city bans like that in New York are being crafted in the wake of state laws that require a shift to renewable sources of electricity.
In fact, there are serious debates about how transportation and certain appliances that are wholly reliant on fossil fuels are going to equitably be converted to clean energy, in order to reduce the emissions that are threatening the planet. But Watters’ segment does not fit among those debates. Rather than laying out the crisis these actions are intended to address, he framed the bans around the idea that efforts to stem climate change represent a “relentless attack on progress,” reinforced later in the segment by the unsubtle chyron, “Green Lunatics Want To Take Your Appliances Away & Bring Society Back To The Stone Age” – a typical tactic in Fox’s ongoing campaign to undermine climate action through fear and misinformation.