Critics Slam Fox News for Distorting Global Warming Debate

Critics of Fox News‘ coverage of climate change issues were given a rich vein to mine in an email from a top editor to his staffers, which was made public recently .

In the email dated Dec. 8 and made public Wednesday by Media Matters for America, Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon instructed staffers to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.

“It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies,” he continued.

Citing “sources familiar with the situation in Fox’s Washington bureau,” Media Matters, a non-profit organization dedicated to correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media, asserted that those sources “have expressed concern about Sammon using his position to ‘slant’ Fox’s supposedly neutral news coverage to the right.”

Fox did not respond to requests by TechNewsWorld for comment on Sammon’s email.

Political Propaganda

For critics of Fox’s coverage of climate change, the email was evidence of the news outlet’s bias in covering the issue. “Fox News has consistently delivered false and misleading information to its viewers about the climate crisis,” Al Gore, former vice president and Academy Award winner for his documentary on global warming, “An Inconvenient Truth,” wrote in his blog.

“The leaked emails now suggest that this bias comes directly from the executives responsible for their news coverage,” he continued.

Disclosure of the climate email comes less than a week after Media Matters revealed another Sammon memo instructing staffers to use the phrase “government option” instead of “public option” in their coverage of the health care debate.

“At least with his memo ordering staff members to use the phrase ‘government option’ instead of ‘public option’ to describe the Democrats’ healthcare reform proposal, Sammon could argue that he was trying to be more descriptive and thus more accurate,” Dan Kennedy, an assistant professor of journalism at Northeastern University in Boston, told TechNewsWorld.

“His memo on climate change, by contrast, underscores what Fox has become: not a news organization, not even an honest opinion outlet, but a source of political propaganda,” he continued. “The real obligation of journalists is to help their audience understand that the scientific community is almost unanimous that the climate is changing, that human activity is a major cause and that voluminous amounts of data support that view.”

‘Unequivocal’ Evidence

Sammon’s assertion in his email that there is some question that the planet is warming was challenged by experts interviewed by TechNewsWorld. “I don’t know of any scientist who would say that the planet is not warming,” declared John Abraham, an associate professor of engineering at the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minn.

Abraham, who authored in May a widely disseminated rebuttal of the arguments by skeptics of global warming, added: “Everyone knows the planet is warming. There’s very, very clear evidence of that.”

Richard Alley, an Evan Pugh professor of Geosciences at Penn State University, agreed. “The most recent [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] assessment said warming of the climate system is unequivocal,” he said. The panel is a scientific body, established by the United Nations, to review and assess the most current information on climate change.

The panel’s conclusions are based on a large number or lines of evidence, he explained. “If you compare one year to the next, there are wiggles,” he acknowledged.

“Temperature does not just go up every year,” he continued. “Global warming doesn’t mean that that today is always warmer than yesterday. But if you average over the noise of the climate system — the El Ninos and what have you — the trend is upward.”

Penchant for Fantasy

While almost all of the scientific community accepts that the planet is warming, there are a few members who don’t, and Fox uses that to warp the issue in the name of fairness, according to Eileen Claussen, president of the Pew Center on Global Climate Change.

In the name of being fair and balanced, she told TechNewsWorld, Fox “implies that there is an equal number of scientists on all sides of this issue, which is not the case. It’s really distorting the facts.”

“Fox seems unwilling to accept the facts,” she maintained.

“Most media outlets try to have some factual basis,” she added. “I think Fox prefers fantasy to facts.”


  • I AM not a follower nor ever been a follower…ok, except for 1 time where I went along with global warming for a few years until I ran across a mandate by the same groups who promote being green by banning incandescent lightbulbs in 2012 in favor of CFL’s. So, we rid ourselves of Incan’s that use more electricity then CFL’S and pollute our landscape with mercury how little it may be. I would rather stick with the incan’s. I have been Green for over 20 years & that is wrong. I have taken trips to the hazardous dump in my town dumping the cfl’s which on average lasted about a 1/3 of the life of the incandesent bulbs I have used. also I looked at a graph of temperature trends a couple of years ago for about a 50 year period & do not see a trend up. When did global warming start? I hear over 18,000 years ago or was it when the internal combustion engine came into use or, accelerated global warming it would be around 100 years ago. let’s start with a hundred years ago if so why would Dec 07 – Feb 08 one of the coldest winters on record? how can that happen? Who’s playing the Almighty? This will be used to cut down our population as well as foods we eat. Take away the human rights we have had in our country since it’s inception. It is CONTROL.

    • Of course, using people’s *own* emails, actual news coverage and statements, and other incontrovertible facts is nothing but a vast conspiracy to distort what Fox and its execs have said, by repeating **exactly** what they said. Go post on Glen Beck’s site, if he has one, and leave the adult world to people willing to deal with reality.

  • Suspicions arise that the Onion might not be a real news agency…

    Seriously, the only people that don’t *know* that Fox is biased, hires people for their controversy, not their fact checking, has admitted as much, uses **THEMSELVES** and their own pundits as reference to prove their assertions, and lies, both about the news, and even what their own pundits and talk show hosts have said on their *own* shows, are the people that watch Fox and think, "Gosh, I can’t believe I got so lucky to find a news network that tells me what I want to hear, it *must* be the truth!"

    You next revelation is going to be what? Nixon actually lied during Watergate? Terrorists really blew up the twin towers? The sky, when not cloudy, is blue?

  • The far left (MediaMatters being part of that) have been dying to shut down Fox News because they’re the ONLY tv news that DOESN’T march in lock-step with the leftist/socialist line of thinking. MediaMatters was started by Hiilery Clinton and has recently been given a 1 million dollar donation by foreigner George Soros who’s life goal is to turn America into a Socialist country. He’s openly stated that he needs to control the media in order to aacomplish this. You’re seeing the fruits of his labor doing that now. MediaMatters has no leg to stand on when it comes to objectivity. They’re a far left wing hack.

    Thank GOD for Fox News! They’re the ONLY ones that ever report on the other side of the news stories, like climate gate et al. This is what AM kes them "fair and balanced". They actually give BOTH sides of the story.

    I watch Fox news A LOT and I’ve NEVER heard them say nor even IMPLY that there are equal numbers of scientists that say the world isn’t warming. In fact, they frequently talk about how the majority of scientists say that it IS warming. Fortunately, they at least acknowledge that there ARE some scientists that are skeptical and they acknowledge that there are a LOT of left wing idealogs behind the climate science and that a lot of the "facts" are questinable as are some of the scientists, such as Michael Mann, behind the climate gate scandel.

    I say this being a former "greenie" myself. In college I was a member of the enviornmentalist club. I went to Earth day celebrations… I bought and wore the t-shirt… I took environmental science class… I wrote reports on global warming and warned of the dire consequences. Since then, I’ve become MORE educated and don’t buy it hook, line, and sinker anymore. I’m able to actually think for myself and don’t limit myself to news from just ONE side of the political aisle.

    If it weren’t for Fox News, the far left would be the only side we ever hear. Why don’t I ever see stories about the extreme left bias on NBC, ABC, CBS, CNN, NPR, PBS, NYT, et al?

  • This looks like a supposed majority (is there a consensus of scientists on this topic? are there any scientifically lead surveys of scientists’ – opinion – that unequivocally agrees on global warming?) is forcing its view over the supposed minority, thus avoiding a debate. It’s like lynch mob mentality.

    On the other hand, most of the criticism of the editors letter can be reversed against the so called left news stations.

    >In the name of being fair and balanced, she told TechNewsWorld, Fox "implies that there is an equal number of scientists on all sides of this issue, which is not the case. It’s really distorting the facts."< Personally, I don’t see how Fox implies what Eileen Claussen was suggesting – "data that critics have called into question" does not imply that. And with this, she is the one distorting the facts.

    And then, of course, the issue about what exactly it means that the planet is warming – more importantly, is it due to human activities or just a natural cycle, a "wiggle" on a larger scale.

    Having said that, bending data to fit a theory (on either side) is not a good way to come to a valid conclusion. It prolongs the time till we realize what we are doing to the planet, and thus shortens the time we would have left for any corrective measures. In other words, avoiding a debate delays coming to terms with the facts; a good and open debate gives chance to all sides to lay out their scientific arguments. (Note: Al Gore’s movie, for instance, is NOT a scientific argument! Besides, conclusions in this movie have been questioned and I haven’t heard any arguable response.)

    In all, despite my personal feeling that the free market society is in the foundation of our impact on nature including the supposed global warming (due to human factor), this article is falling into a push-the-scientific-view-no-matter-what basket, trying to make something out of nothing… Probably learned it from the other side, but in my view it’s clumsy and counter-productive.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

More by John P. Mello Jr.
More in Science

Technewsworld Channels