Fox Rejects “Notions” Like Recorded Temperature Data


Not that there’s much mystery about what the folks at Fox News think about global warming, but a memo that Media Matters unearthed today really shows how backwards things over there, and that the denialist message is coming from the top. Here’s the gist:

In the midst of global climate change talks last December, a top Fox News official sent an email questioning the “veracity of climate change data” and ordering the network’s journalists 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.”

The directive, sent by Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, was issued less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record.”

I can’t decide which is more problematic—that they choose to dispute the very fact that it is warming at all, something that is rather hard to argue with, or that the memo came in response to a report from Copenhagen that accurately depicted the science. In either case, the memo is a good insight to how things work over at Fox, and why they’ve so successfully confused viewers about even the basic question of whether the planet is warming. Here’s the memo:

Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…

…we should 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.

Yep, at Fox, data like the recorded temperatures aren’t facts—they’re just “notions.” It’s so much less complicated that way!

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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  • Kate Sheppard was a staff reporter in Mother Jones' Washington bureau from 2009 to 2013. She is now a senior reporter and the energy and environment editor at The Huffington Post. She can be reached by email at kate (dot) sheppard (at) huffingtonpost (dot) com and you can follow her on Twitter @kate_sheppard.