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  • New York Magazine Highlights How Right-Wing Media Moved The Goalposts On The Paris Climate Change Agreement

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait criticized right-wing media outlets for claiming the Paris climate agreement is toothless after previously denying the reality of man-made climate change.

    Conservative media personalities criticized the Paris conference leading to a landmark December 12 climate change agreement to limit global emissions. Right-wing media outlets and figures, such as Fox News' Stuart Varney and The Daily Caller, claimed any agreement would have "little... impact" and argued that lowering global temperatures by a "minuscule amount" would cost America "an enormous amount of money." Fox News in particular demonstrated its hypocrisy over the issue by falsely implying that those at the Paris agreement were hypocrites for having a supposed large carbon footprint the Paris summit and dismissing the "hoopla" over the event due to any agreement being non-binding, while at the same time pointing to record level Alaska snowfall to dispute climate change. A Fox host also falsely claimed global temperatures have "stabilized or gone down a little bit," and Fox's Laura Ingraham claimed that the summit is about "bringing America's economy down."

    In a December 20 article, Chait pointed out how conservative media were moving the goalposts on the issue, writing they had "shifted their emphasis from denying the science to denying the possibility that policy can change it." Noting that conservative media previously "objected to previous climate deals precisely because their 'mandatory' character presented an unacceptably onerous burden," conservative media were claiming "the absence of that unacceptable feature makes the new agreement worthless." Chait also called out outlets like National Review, Fox News, and The Daily Caller for misrepresenting a MIT climate study to downplay the agreement's impact:

    Most conservative energy on climate change over the last quarter-century has gone into questioning the validity of climate science. Conservative intellectuals have invested enough of their reputations into this form of scientific kookery that it cannot be easily abandoned. Instead, as the evidence for anthropogenic global warming grows ever more certain, and the political costs for Republican presidential candidates of openly questioning science rise, conservatives have shifted their emphasis from denying the science to denying the possibility that policy can change it. A National Review editorial last year dismissed the notion of an international agreement to limit climate change as a metaphysical impossibility, on the grounds that reducing coal usage in one place would axiomatically increase it elsewhere. As The Wall Street Journal editorial page asserts, "If climate change really does imperil the Earth, and we doubt it does, nothing coming out of a gaggle of governments and the United Nations will save it." Having begun with their conclusion, conservative are now reasoning backward through their premises. 

    Accordingly, a new data point has taken hold on the right and quickly blossomed. One study by MIT finds that the Paris agreement would reduce the global temperature increase by a mere 0.2 degrees by 2100. The entire right-wing media has eagerly circulated the finding. "Current analysis by researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology -- not exactly a nest of fossil-fuel conservatism -- suggests that the emissions cuts being agreed to in Paris would reduce that estimated warming by as little as 0.0°C or by as much as 0.2°C," announces a National Review editorial, thrilled to have an empirical basis for the conclusion it previously asserted as an a priori truth. The same study has been recirculated by places like the Daily Caller, Fox News, and elsewhere. Rich Lowry, writing in the New York Post, reports, "The best estimates are that, accepting the premises of the consensus, the deal will reduce warming 0.0 to 0.2 degrees Celsius."

    In fact, this study is just one estimate, not estimates plural. There are many other studies, and while Lowry's column does not reveal what process he used to deem the MIT study "the best," we can probably guess that it has something to do with MIT being the one that supports his preferred conclusion. In fact, the MIT study does not produce the conclusion its gloating conservative publicists claim on its behalf.

    [...]

    So MIT's conclusion of emissions levels over the next 15 years is right in line with other estimates that assume Paris will do a great deal to limit climate change.

    [...]

    It is also certainly possible that global willpower to reduce emissions will weaken, or collapse entirely. Future events cannot be proven. Only rigid dogma like American conservatism (or, for that matter, Marxism) gives its adherents a mortal certainty about the fate of government policy that a liberal cannot match, and should not want to.

  • NY Mag's Jonathan Chait Highlights How Right-Wing Media Helps Push The GOP To Deny Climate Science

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH

    New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait explained how conservative media personalities helped coerce the GOP into climate-science denialism.

    In a December 1 article, Jonathan Chait discussed the way right-wing media has bullied the GOP to adopt climate-science denialism or face the "AM radio interrogation" from conservative radio hosts. Chait wrote that "GOP politicians that understand climate science [are] cowed into submission by an angry minority," and media figures like Fox News contributors George Will and Charles Krauthammer, and The Wall Street Journal's Bret Stephens. 

    Though it was surely not his intention to do so, David Brooks' column today has made an airtight case for why no sane person would support any Republican candidate for president next year.Brooks begins his column by conceding that climate-science deniers have a hammerlock on public discourse within the party. "On this issue the G.O.P. has come to resemble a Soviet dictatorship," he writes, "a vast majority of Republican politicians can't publicly say what they know about the truth of climate change because they're afraid the thought police will knock on their door and drag them off to an AM radio interrogation." Brooks uses this observation as a launching point to tout glimmerings of moderate (or, at any rate, less extreme) thought within the party. 

    [...]

    In fact, as terrifying as the reality depicted by Brooks may sound, matters are actually worse. Brooks presents the situation as a "vast majority" of GOP politicians that understand climate science cowed into submission by an angry minority. Perhaps the vast majority of Republican politicians who confide their private beliefs to Brooks feel this way, but this is probably not a representative cross section. It is clear that a large proportion of party elites proclaim themselves to be climate-science skeptics for reasons purely of their own volition. Nor is this sentiment confined to talk-radio shouters. Esteemed chin-strokers and collectors of awards, like George F. Will and Charles Krauthammer, broadcast their disdain for the findings of the climate-science field.

    [...]

    Here is a typical example at hand in Wall Street Journal columnist Bret Stephens's offering today, which dismisses climate change as an imaginary problem. "The hysteria generated by an imperceptible temperature rise of 1.7 degrees Fahrenheit since 1880--as if the trend is bound to continue forever, or is not a product of natural variation, or cannot be mitigated except by drastic policy interventions. The hyping of flimsy studies--melting Himalayan glaciers; vanishing polar ice--to press the political point." 

    [...]

    Parties operate by coalescing around mutually agreeable policies. The presidential nominee may downplay the most outlandish anti-scientific conspiracy theories, but the party's agenda will have to accommodate the beliefs expounded by the likes of Smith, Inhofe, Will, Krauthammer, Stephens, and many others. 

    This week conservative media personalities also attacked the U.N. climate summit in Paris. Conservative radio and Fox News host Sean Hannity called those who believed in climate change "idiots." Fox host Bill Hemmer  pointed to increasing snowfall in Alaska to dismiss the summit entirely. And radio host Rush Limbaugh said that the climate summit is "an attack on capitalism" and is "about weakening the United States."

  • New York Magazine: Bill O'Reilly-George Will Feud Reflects "Civil War" Between Fox News Executives

    O'Reilly's Killing Books Reportedly "Considered Something Of A Joke" At Fox News

    Blog ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    New York Magazine's Gabriel Sherman highlighted the ongoing "civil war" between Fox News host Bill O'Reilly and contributor George Will over O'Reilly's newest book, Killing Reagan, in a new report. Sherman interviewed executives at the network who call O'Reilly's books "a joke" and offered insight on a feud between Fox executives Bill Shine and Mike Clemente.

    The recent feud began after Will published a November 5 Washington Post column titled, "Bill O'Reilly slanders Ronald Reagan." In the column, Will called the book "nonsensical history and execrable citizenship," with a "preposterous premise" that "should come with a warning: 'Caution -- you are about to enter a no-facts zone.'"

    O'Reilly responded to Will's column later that night, calling it "libel," and challenged Will to come onto his show and attack him in person - a challenge Will accepted.

    Sherman's November 9 exclusive highlighted the "civil war" currently raging at Fox, noting the distain for O'Reilly and his Killing books and how the rift has strengthened the rivalry between Mike Clemente, who oversees the news division, and Bill Shine, who oversees the prime-time shows. Both are high level executives hoping to replace Fox News Chairman and CEO Roger Ailes. According to Sherman, a Fox executive also commented O'Reilly's Killing series of books are considered "something of a joke inside the network," with the executive saying, "[O'Reilly] certainly doesn't research his books":

    Inside Fox, the O'Reilly-Will feud is being closely studied by executives because it is part of a larger power struggle that's taking place at the highest reaches of the organization. On opposing sides of the fault line are Clemente, who oversees news (where Will works), and executive vice-president Bill Shine, who oversees prime-time shows (where O'Reilly works). Clemente and Shine are vying to replace Ailes and are such bitter rivals that they barely speak, numerous Fox employees say. In August 2014, the rivalry intensified when Ailes put Shine in charge of the Fox Business Network. "This is some Game of Thrones shit," one insider told me. The relationship is so bad that Clemente is not involved at all in preparing for the upcoming GOP debate on Fox Business.

    Shine's loyalists tell me that Clemente did not confer with Shine about Will's anti-O'Reilly column before it was published. Furthermore, they're furious at Clemente for not stopping Will from embarrassing Fox's highest-rated host in the pages of the Post. They reminded me that it was Clemente who recruited Will to Fox from ABC in 2013. One source also explained that Will received a special contributor contract with Fox that grants him editorial independence for his column (other contributors are barred from writing about Fox without permission). "He doesn't have to check with Fox," the source said.

    Clemente did not comment, but his camp is firing back off the record. "Almost everyone is on team George," one said. "Everyone is snickering and thinks it's a riot." Another told me that O'Reilly's Killing series is considered something of a joke inside the network. "He certainly doesn't research his books," one executive said.

    Where Ailes stands remains unclear. In the past he's been critical of O'Reilly's book-writing ventures. In my biography of Ailes, I reported Ailes told colleagues that O'Reilly is "a book salesman with a TV show." Fox News has not commented on the mess. "Roger is probably in the men's room hoping this whole thing blows over," one insider told me today. That might be wishful thinking. The rumor at Fox is that Will is preparing to write another O'Reilly column. Will did not respond to requests for comment.

  • Media Call Out Rubio's Shift On Immigration Reform, A Change Right-Wing Pundits Have Demanded

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Media outlets are pointing out Sen. Marco Rubio's (R-FL) shifting position on immigration reform after the presidential hopeful changed his position on ending the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (DACA). While Rubio previously supported eliminating the program after comprehensive immigration reform was in place, he recently stated he'd eliminate it regardless. This shift follows a push by conservative media figures who have long criticized Rubio for his immigration stances.

  • Fox's Eric Bolling Is Donald Trump's Biggest Fan

    ››› ››› ALEX KAPLAN

    Fox News CEO Roger Ailes reportedly told network host Eric Bolling to defend Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump on air. Bolling has repeatedly gone to bat for Trump, praising him as someone who "means business" and defending his controversial remarks.

  • New York Mag Helps Ailes With Fox News' "Branding Issue"

    Blog ››› ››› JEREMY HOLDEN

    A New York magazine blog post pointed to anecdotal evidence as proof that Fox News is moderating its political advocacy in the run-up to the 2012 election, but the weight of the evidence shows that Fox is playing a heavy role in selecting the next president.

    In a September interview with the Daily Beast's Howard Kurtz, Fox News head Roger Ailes claimed that the cable behemoth had taken a "course correction" in light of the network's close connections to Glenn Beck, Sarah Palin, and the tea party movement becoming a "branding issue."

    Citing a recent, contentious interview Fox anchor Bret Baier conducted with Mitt Romney, New York magazine's Gabriel Sherman took the bait and argued that while Fox would "continue to function as home turf" for Republicans, Ailes' "course correction" has been on display during the 2012 primary:

    This chaotic and raucous primary season is demonstrating that Roger Ailes will put the interests of his network ahead of all else. If 2010 was the year that Fox fueled the tea party -- culminating in record ratings and the Republican sweep of the House midterms -- 2012 is shaping up to be the year that Ailes decided Fox will benefit if the political world recognizes that his network is willing to make GOP candidates sweat in front of their base. Like any good candidate, the network plans to tack toward the center for the general election.

    It's a complex game Ailes is playing. Conversations with Fox sources and media executives suggest a new strategy: Fox is trying to credibly capture the center without alienating its loyal core of rabid viewers. To this end, the network is flexing its news-gathering muscles in high-profile ways that will capture media attention.

    Baier's interview with Romney must be viewed in the context of Fox's overall treatment of the GOP candidates. As The Washington Post's Eric Wemple noted, "based on recent appearances, Fox appears to be treating Mitt Romney (hardball warehouse interview with Bret Baier) more harshly than Newt Gingrich (smiling, treacly interview with Sean Hannity)." The New York Times recently reported on the role that television has played during the 2012 election, in particular Fox News:

    "Everything has changed," said Gov. Sam Brownback of Kansas, who traveled across Iowa as an unsuccessful Republican presidential candidate four years ago. "It's like a town hall every day on Fox News. You hear people talking back to you what you saw yesterday on Fox. I like Fox, and I'm glad we have an outlet, but it is having a major, major effect on what happens."

    Sherman also pointed to the presence of a New York Times reporter at a recent Fox News candidates forum as further evidence that Fox is a different animal during the 2012 primary. An adequate analysis of Fox News' role in electing the next president, however, requires looking beyond the dog and pony show.

  • Fox Primary: Rove Renews Criticism Of Palin

    Blog ››› ››› MEDIA MATTERS STAFF

    In a February 27 New York magazine article, Fox News contributor Karl Rove renewed his attacks on fellow Fox News contributor Sarah Palin, criticizing her for starring in a reality show and asking, "How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" During the interview, Rove reportedly did a "withering impersonation of Palin" while criticizing her reality show. From the article:

    One week before the 2010 midterm elections, Rove took aim at Sarah Palin, questioning the wisdom of her appearance on a reality show, Sarah Palin's Alaska, if she really wanted to be taken seriously as a presidential candidate. Palin lacked the "gravitas" to be president, went a subhead in the U.K.'s DailyTelegraph.

    Rove later tried wriggling out of his comments, as well as observations he made in a German magazine that tea-partiers weren't "sophisticated," being unfamiliar, as Rove was, with intellectuals like the economist Friedrich August von Hayek. But Rove's backhands weren't accidental, nor was he the victim of outrageous tabloid reporting. When I bring up his statements about Palin during our interview, Rove says only that he wished he'd made his comments on Fox News instead--before going into a withering impersonation of Palin, recalling a scene from her TV show in which she's fishing.

    "Did you see that?" he says, adopting a high, sniveling Palin accent: " 'Holy crap! That fish hit my thigh! It hurts!' "

    "How does that make us comfortable seeing her in the Oval Office?" he asks, disgusted. "You know--'Holy crap, Putin said something ugly!' "

    Previously:

    Fox 2012 Primary: Palin vs. Rove

    Fox primary: Rove blinks, apologizes to Palin for criticism

  • Beck smears Gore in his New York magazine "faction" piece

    Blog ››› ››› SIMON MALOY

    Did the editors of New York magazine not read The Overton Window?

    I mean, they can be forgiven for not reading Glenn Beck's non-thrilling "thriller" novel, which set a new, impossibly low standard for cliché-ridden, nonsensically awful writing. But they really should have before they turned their pages over to Beck this weekend so he could give his "factionalized" account of an Al Gore presidency.

    For those unaware, "faction" is the clever-but-not-really portmanteau Beck employs to describe his style of creative writing, which, as you've probably already guessed, blends "fact" with "fiction." In the pages of New York, however, Beck has tweaked the formula a bit, blending fiction with thoroughly debunked garbage:

    Gore's four o'clock was another one of the bright young minds that he liked to surround himself with, a guy named Barry Obama. (Who continued to maintain that his name was Barack, leading Gore to once advise him that no one in North Carolina would ever be caught dead voting for a guy named Barack.) Barry had come to the administration as deputy attorney general via an under-the-radar deal between Gore and Jack Ryan, now the senator from Illinois. Though he had been leading Barry in the polls, Ryan didn't want to take any chances, so he called in a favor. He had information about a certain late afternoon Gore had spent in a hotel in Chicago a few years back. A trip to the day spa had turned into a second chakra-release party.

    Remember that smear, forwarded by the National Enquirer and later determined to be completely and totally without factual basis? It's back! And now it's true! At least it is in Beck's make-believe world. And anyone who wants to defend Beck's inclusion of this smear in his larger fictionalized attack on Gore will likely point that out: "It's only fiction! It's not real! Lighten up!"

    But that's just the thing: even within the contours of Beck's fictional world, there's no reason to include this. Beck seems to acknowledge this himself -- he writes that Ryan was leading Obama in the polls (apparently there was no real-life divorce scandal waiting in the wings to take the Illinois Republican down), but for some reason he "call[s] in a favor" with Gore, threatening to expose the president's tryst with a masseuse if he doesn't lure the opponent he's already beating out the race.

    Also: we're supposed to believe that a Republican politician would sit on information regarding a Democratic president's marital infidelities so he could call in a (relatively minor) favor later on? Really?

    It's completely gratuitous. Including it in the story only makes it seem less plausible. But Beck thinks it's hilarious to crack about the former vice president having affairs and (I wish I were kidding) accidentally eating polar bear meat. So instead of something interesting, or funny, or well-written, or coherent, we get Glenn Beck's latest turn at "faction," and New York magazine inextricably links themselves to the author who brought us the timeless admonition: "Don't tease the panther."

  • This has got to be a joke: Palin grills the press... in person?

    Blog ››› ››› KARL FRISCH

    This one had me laughing so hard my stomach began to hurt.

    New York Magazine's Daily Intel blog is reporting that Fox News contributor Sarah Palin had a fun time scolding members of the press at the TIME 100 party on Tuesday night (emphasis added):

    Sarah [Palin], on the other hand, was happy to be in a room with so many reporters - particularly Time's Joe Klein, of whom she is a fan - so she could set the record straight. "I did talk to a couple of reporters already and said that a bunch of stuff that they write is bogus, but we had a great conversation about it and we agreed to disagree on a lot of things," she said. "One thing we can all agree on, though, is how much we respect and want to protect the freedom of the press and we have that in common, so at the end of the day, I think as long as we're protecting that and not abusing the right - we have to be writing truth - then we'll get along just fine tonight." Particularly, she wanted to clear up "the bogus reports about how much money I supposedly make," she said. "I have a business. I run a business with my speaker's fee."

    Wow.

    It takes a lot of guts for the former half-term Governor of Alaska to attack the media for the unspecified "bunch" of "bogus" "stuff" it reports when her own Facebook profile and appearances on Fox News would keep fact-checkers and editors busy for weeks.

    Then there's the gem about Palin agreeing, "[H]ow much we respect and want to protect the freedom of the press." How much respect could she possibly have for an institution that she routinely calls the "lamestream media" and so rarely avails herself to for serious sit-down interviews?

    If anything, Palin routinely shows contempt for the press. As I wrote last week:

    Sure we all remember when the former half-term Governor of Alaska was paid to speak at the National Tea Party Convention -- a speech that was initially closed to press except for a few right-wing outlets like Fox News (her employer.) Then there was the news that one of her speaking contracts required "questions" following her remarks were "to be collected from the audience in advance" and "pre-screened."

    Now, Think Progress brings us word of yet another disturbing story: Palin's speech earlier this week "at a fundraiser for the Austin-based Heroic Media, a "faith-based" anti-choice organization that seeks to reduce the number of abortions "by creating a Culture of Life through television, billboard and internet advertising."

    The piece by Think Progress' Ben Armbruster goes on to note a report from the Austin-American Statesmen that members of the press had to make a contribution to Heroic Media in order to attend Palin's address.

    In order to understand the delusion that fuels Palin's bizarre "media" talking points, it's worth revisiting the justification she offered Jay Leno when asked about her decision to join Fox News earlier in the year (again, emphasis added):

    "I had studied journalism...my college degree there in communications and now I am back there wanting to build some trust back in our media. I think that the mainstream media is quite broken and I think that there needs to be the fairness, the balance in there...that's why I joined Fox."

    [...]

    "Those years ago that I studied journalism, it was all about the who, what, where, when and why. It was not so much the opinion interjected in hard news stories. So, I would like to see, in order to build trust in the media, because it is a cornerstone of our democracy, Americans deserve to have more of that factual fairness."

    Far from respecting the First Amendment or media as an institution, Palin -- like scores of right-wingers before her -- uses the media to score political points with a conservative basis detached from reality and glued to the political spin coming from right-wing outlets like Fox News and Rush Limbaugh.

  • What do AIG bonuses have to do with health care and cap-and-trade?

    ››› ››› LAUREN AUERBACH, TOM ALLISON & MORGAN WEILAND

    Several media outlets have asserted that AIG's payment of controversial employee-retention bonus packages could squelch or impede President Obama's ability to promote his policy agenda. Most of those reporting the claim failed to elaborate on how disclosure of the bonuses could impede Obama's ability to pass aspects of his agenda such as health-care reform and climate change policy.