Tracy Byrnes | Media Matters for America

Tracy Byrnes

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  • 10 Dumbest Things Fox Said About Climate Change In 2012

    Blog ››› ››› SHAUNA THEEL

    In contrast to official temperature records showing a consistent warming trend, Fox Business reporters have claimed that the "temperature basically hasn't changed much since the ice age" and that it's actually "getting colder." Fox News figures have also denied the scientific consensus that human activity is driving climate change, claiming that carbon dioxide "literally cannot cause global warming" and suggesting that "Mars wobbles" or "wind farms" may be causing it instead. Those are just some of the 10 dumbest things Fox News, Fox Business and their websites said about climate change in 2012:

    1. Fox Reporter: "The Temperature Basically Hasn't Changed Much Since The Ice Age." During the Ice Age, much of North America, northern Europe and southern South America were covered with ice sheets. Natural climate cycles led to the end of the Ice Age tens of thousands of years ago. In the last century, temperatures have increased dramatically as a result of our massive emissions of greenhouse gases. Yet Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes claimed in March that "the temperature basically hasn't changed much since the Ice Age," before confusing global warming with the depletion of the ozone layer:

    2. During Record-Breaking Heat, Fox Anchor Claims "It's Getting Colder." During the third warmest summer on record in the U.S., David Asman, who hosts shows on both Fox News and Fox Business, claimed "it's getting colder":

    3. Fox "Expert": Carbon Dioxide "Literally Cannot Cause Global Warming." Joe Bastardi is a meteorologist that is often presented as a climate change expert on Fox News, even though he has no climate science training. Bill O'Reilly has cited Bastardi as the reason that he is "skeptical" about global warming, but scientists have called Bastardi's statements "completely wrong," "simply ignorant," and "utter nonsense." In March, Bastardi attempted to "throw out 150 years of physics" by dismissing the greenhouse effect -- the reason there is life on Earth -- as impossible. Bastardi stated on Fox Business that carbon dioxide (CO2) "literally" -- yes, literally -- "cannot cause global warming" because it doesn't "mix well in the atmosphere." But physicist Richard Muller told Media Matters that CO2 is actually "completely mixed."

    4. Fox Reporter: "Mars Wobbles" May Be Causing Climate Change. Elizabeth MacDonald, a Fox Business reporter who often appears on Fox News, incorrectly said in November that "there's no consensus on what's causing climate change, and asked "is it solar flares? Is it the Mars wobbles? Is it the earth's axis tilting in a different way? I mean, that's the issue." After being subject to mockery, she tried to walk back her comments saying she doesn't "think Mars wobbles cause hurricanes," but did not explain her previous comments.

    5. Fox Website: "Wind Farms Cause Global Warming." In April, a study found that nighttime temperatures in areas around Texas wind farms were higher than in areas without wind turbines. Fox Nation, a section of, linked to a story about the study with a headline declaring that wind farms "cause global warming." But the study's authors called this coverage "misleading," explaining that it is "[v]ery likely" that "wind turbines do not create a net warming of the air and instead only re-distribute the air's heat near the surface, which is fundamentally different from the large-scale warming effect caused by increasing atmospheric concentrations of greenhouse gases."

  • Fox's Global Warming Fix: "The Free Market, Cleaning Up Our Air"

    Blog ››› ››› JILL FITZSIMMONS

    A new report from the Energy Information Administration finds that U.S. carbon emissions are at a 20-year low, in part because energy companies are transitioning from coal to natural gas. Fox is seizing on that news to claim that "the free market [is] cleaning up our air," and that the current availability of cheap natural gas undermines the need for government action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. But experts say that a variety of factors contributed to the emissions drop, and that shifting to natural gas is not a long-term solution to climate change.

    The Energy Information Administration announced earlier this month that U.S. energy-related CO2 emissions in early 2012 were the lowest measured for a January-March period since 1992. The report attributed the decline to a combination of three factors: reduced household heating demand during an unusually warm winter, a decline in coal generation due to low natural gas prices, and low gasoline demand as a result of a slowed economy and the shift towards more fuel-efficient vehicles.

    Source: Energy Information Administration

    But Fox is ignoring the confluence of factors and touting the decline as a triumph of the free market. A Fox Nation headline today declared: "Free Enterprise Makes the Air Cleaner." On Varney & Company, Fox Business contributor Charles Payne said: "The free market, cleaning up our air. Says a lot about the free market, doesn't it?" And on Money with Melissa Francis, Fox Business reporter Tracy Byrnes called the EIA report "proof that free markets can work better than government overregulation." Byrnes went on to ask her guest why carbon dioxide emissions -- which are not "poisonous" or "inflammable" -- are even a problem in the first place: 

  • At What Point Does Fox Decide Palin Shows "Any Intention Of Running?"

    Blog ››› ››› KEVIN ZIEBER

    With Fox News personalities openly speculating on-air that Sarah Palin has produced a "campaign ad" and set up a candidate's schedule for September, how much longer will the network allow her to maintain her status as a Fox News contributor?

    Back in March, Fox executives suspended the contracts of contributors Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum as the two considered entering the GOP primary field. Suspending Gingrich and Santorum, while keeping Huckabee and Palin, gave way to questions of fairness at Fox.

    In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Fox's executive vice president of legal affairs, Dianne Brandi, tried to dispense with the controversy, saying the network would allow Palin to stay on because she "hasn't done anything to show us she has any intention of running."

    The ethical morass grew in June, as Fox News figures aggressively promoted Palin's brand while she tore through the northeast on a bus tour, hinting along the way that she might be running and granting friendly interviews to Fox shows.

    Now, after the former governor ripped through Iowa and cut a sleek ad that again hinted at a presidential campaign, some Fox News personalities are speculating on-air that Palin's recent moves cross the line into campaigning. Fox Business' Tracy Byrnes aired the ad and opined, "If that's not a campaign ad, I don't know what is." Fox contributor Karl Rove said that Palin's September schedule, complete with a Labor Day weekend speech in Iowa, "looks like a candidate's [schedule]."


    Byrnes and Rove certainly think Palin has shown some "intention of running." What will be cause enough for Fox's executives?