News Corp.'s support for combating climate change undermined by deniers at Fox News, WSJ
News Corp. CEO Rupert Murdoch has stated that News Corp. “can set an example” and “reach our audiences” when it comes to fighting climate change, promising in 2007 to make all of News Corp.'s operations carbon neutral by 2010 and most recently commissioning pollster Frank Luntz to conduct a survey that reportedly studied the most effective way to communicate with voters on climate change. However, media figures at his news outlets, including Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, have routinely advanced false and misleading claims in denying climate change.
Murdoch's stated commitment to climate change
News Corp. commissioned a study showing how to best frame climate change issues. News Corp. commissioned Luntz's company, The Word Doctors, to conduct a study determining the best way to communicate with voters about climate change issues. Luntz reportedly found that “Americans want their leaders to act on climate change,” and that a “clear majority of Americans believe climate change is happening. This is true of McCain voters and Obama voters alike. And even those that don't still believe it is essential for America to pursue policies that promote energy independence and a cleaner, healthier environment.”
Murdoch announced an initiative to make News Corp. carbon neutral and inspire audiences to fight climate change. In 2007, Murdoch announced that his company would become carbon neutral by 2010. In his company-wide address announcing the new initiative, Murdoch stated that News Corp. was also going to attempt to engage its audience to fight climate change: “We can do something that's unique, different from just any other company. We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours... That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer.”
Murdoch: “Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats.” In his address, Murdoch also explained the inspiration behind his energy initiative:
As many of you know, I grew up in Melbourne, Australia and the last few months and years have brought some changes there:
In Melbourne, 2006 was the 10th consecutive year with below average rainfall. And 2005 was the hottest year on record throughout Australia.
Australia is suffering its worst drought in 100 years.
Now, I realize we can't take just one year in one city or even one continent as proof that something unusual is happening. And I am no scientist.
But there are signs around the world, and I do know how to assess a risk. Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats. We may not agree on the extent, but we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction.
We must transform the way we use energy.
Murdoch: “I think when people see that 99 percent of scientists agree about the serious extent of global warming, it's going to become a fact of life.” In a 2007 interview with Grist magazine, Murdoch stated that as a result of his efforts to fight climate change, Fox News and his newspapers will “certainly” be “giving [the issue] more attention. There will be more articles, more references, but the same broad range of opinions.” When asked if the “nature of the coverage would be changing,” Murdoch replied: “Yes. I think when people see that 99 percent of scientists agree about the serious extent of global warming, it's going to become a fact of life.” Murdoch further stated that he believed Sean Hannity will come around to embracing the initiative because “he's a very reasonable, very intelligent man. He'll see, he'll understand it.”
News Corp has continued to work towards its goal. News Corp. has completed a series of initiatives in its move toward carbon neutrality, including designing “a web-based tool ... to enable television, film, sports, news and event producers and crew members to efficiently find climate- and environment-conscious guidance”; Harper Collins “moving its fleet of cars for Collins Education sales reps over to the ecologically friendly Toyota Prius T3 Hybrids”; producing “the first-ever carbon-neutral Emmy Awards show”; The Sunday Times (UK) putting together “its inaugural 'Best Green Companies Awards' ”; and The Australian highlighting “its One Degree campaign with tips for their readers to take action on climate change.”
Fox, WSJ regularly undermine Murdoch's purported intentions to “set an example” and “reach our audiences” to “conquer” their carbon footprint
Hannity: “The debate's over. There's no global warming.” Hannity has been particularly vociferous in his denial of climate change, declaring: “The debate's over. There's no global warming.” He has also cited reportedly stolen emails from the University of East Anglia's Climatic Research Unit as evidence that global warming is a “hoax.” In addition, Hannity also frequently equates weather with climate, suggesting that snowstorms and cold spells disprove climate change. And he has derided carbon offsets without acknowledging News Corp.'s efforts to achieve carbon neutrality.
In spite of Murdoch's initiatives, Fox and WSJ employees question man's role in climate change. Implicitly contradicting Murdoch's statements that "[c]limate change poses clear, catastrophic threats" and “we certainly can't afford the risk of inaction,” Fox and WSJ employees have repeatedly denied the role humans play in global warming. On the June 5, 2009 edition of Fox News' Glenn Beck, Fox News senior judicial analyst Andrew Napolitano mischaracterized a NASA study to conclude:
NAPOLITANO: So, basically -- are you ready for this? -- the sun heats the Earth. The real question is whether Al Gore's NASA guy, Dr. James Hanson, will give up on trying to say “people heat the Earth” and “people cause global warming,” or if the man who produced the report will get fired for going against the green -- I mean, against the grain.
Responding to a viewer's email asking whether the current global warming “scare” is “natural” or “man-made,” Fox News host Bill O'Reilly responded that "[i]t's all guesswork." More recently, The Wall Street Journal columnist Pete du Pont suggested that global temperature changes prior to industrialization prove that humans are not causing climate change.
Other Fox News hosts, anchors have ignored science to mock climate change. As Media Matters has noted, climate scientists reject the idea that short-term weather provides evidence for or against climate change. Yet numerous News Corp. personalities ignore this information, using cool weather to mock or deny global warming. On Fox & Friends, talking about a cold weather forecast, co-host Steve Doocy said, “That global warming thing is really kicking into high gear, isn't it?” Host Neil Cavuto kicked off a “Fox News global warming alert” by claiming that "[i]t is freezing across the entire globe." In September 2009, host Glenn Beck implied that cool temperatures in New York at the time proved there was no global warming. Greg Palkot, Bill Hemmer, Trace Hemmer, and Brian Wilson have also made similar statements on Fox.