During Friday’s edition of Fox News’ Outnumbered, the panelists repeated a number of false claims about the ongoing blackouts in Texas, both in an attempt to cover up negligence by the state government and private power utilities and to deny the role of climate change in severe weather events.
Fox has been waging a sustained propaganda campaign attempting to blame renewable energy sources for the state’s crisis. By contrast, local media outlets in Texas have done a much better job at explaining how the breakdowns across all energy sources — including from fossil fuels, which still normally provide a majority of the state’s electricity — are the result of the state’s failure to adequately winterize its infrastructure, even after prior blackout events.
But these facts were entirely left out of the conversation on Outnumbered.
“The reality is here that you’re flying helicopters using fossil fuels to put oil on wind turbines to defrost them,” said Fox Nation host Lara Logan, seemingly referencing a debunked viral image taken in Sweden in 2014.
“It's time for us to have an honest conversation about renewable energy and about global warming, climate change, whatever you want to call it,” said Logan. “This is the first time in Texas’ history that it has had a winter storm warning. So this is — this means that it is not getting warmer and warmer and warmer, simply.”
First of all, the disruptions caused by climate change are indeed linked to the cold snap in Texas, as part of a pattern of extreme weather events.
University of Texas professor Dev Niyogi explained to PBS: “We talk about climate change and global warming sometimes with the thinking that it means our temperatures ought to be warmer and warmer. But one factor that we also highlight is what we will be seeing is these wild swings, both in terms of temperature, rainfall, also in terms of the manner in which storms are coming.”
For example, as meteorologist Chris Gloninger at the NBC station in Boston explained, “Iceland, which today is in the low 40s, is warmer than places like Texas, Louisiana or Oklahoma” as a result of jet streams in the air actually pushing colder waves farther down south.
Fox News contributor Katie Pavlich joined in Logan’s declarations that the Texas power outages were unforeseeable, attempting to absolve state officials from blame for not preparing the state’s isolated energy grid for severe cold.
“The other thing is, you know, Lara just mentioned that this is the first massive storm they’ve had in a very long time in Texas, which is why winterization of all the infrastructure was not prioritized,” said Pavlich. “Every government has to make their decisions about what works in their state and what kind of funding they’re going to put towards things that maybe don't always happen in a regular time.”
But in fact, this is not the first severe winter storm Texas has had — nor is it the first wave of blackouts that resulted from the state’s failure to reinforce its energy infrastructure. Texas experienced a series of rolling blackouts 10 years ago from another winter storm. However, the state ignored warnings from federal agencies, failing to winterize its facilities sufficiently. Instead, as a portfolio manager at a sustainable energy investment firm told The Washington Post, the state’s energy market is a “Wild West market design based only on short-run prices,” rather than preparation for dangerous contingencies.
As Logan might say, “It's time for us to have an honest conversation” about the dishonest campaign that Fox News — along with Texas officials who know exactly what they are doing — has been attempting to pull over on a suffering public.