Research/Study Research/Study

ANALYSIS: Fox Only Talks About Climate Change When It's Cold

Snow-Trollers Lose The “Debate” On Climate Change

  • The recent Arctic chill has given Fox News an excuse to give “skeptics” a platform to deny climate change and bash climate science. But the network has been remiss to discuss the topic during periods of record heat.

    During their coverage of cold weather from January 2 to January 8, Fox News brought up climate change nine times, casting doubt on it every single time. They also devoted a significant amount of coverage to a ship getting stuck in Antarctic ice to mock climate change during this period. But this strongly contrasts Fox News' coverage of extreme heat events, in which the network is typically silent on the topic of global warming. A previous Media Matters analysis found that, in a parallel week-long time period in 2011, Fox News did not mention climate change once while reporting on an unusually intense heat wave. And throughout the entire month of July 2012, which was the hottest month on record for the United States, the network discussed climate change in the heat wave's context once -- in order to deny it.

    Fox Coverage Cold Spell

    Meanwhile, MSNBC primarily featured the anti-scientific “skeptic” claims to dismiss them in its five segments on the topic. CNN meteorologist Chad Meyers rebutted the “skeptic” claims in one segment, but in CNN's only other segment on the topic, the network portrayed the science of global warming as up for a "debate" by non-scientists. As MSNBC's Al Sharpton put it, “It's times like these that you want a scientist around to explain things” -- he brought on Bill Nye “The Science Guy” to make the case:

    Some in the media may pretend that climate science is up for debate. But in the scientific literature, the debate has already been won.


    Methodology: We searched Nexis transcripts for “global warming” or “climate change” between January 2, 2014 and January 8, 2014 for transcripts from Fox News, MSNBC and CNN. Additionally, we searched an internal video archive for daytime Fox News segments on climate change and/or global warming, which are not included in Nexis. We included only the mentions and segments that were in the context of cold winter weather and/or the polar vortex. 

    Cable Coverage Cold Spell