SHOCKER: Fox News Misleads Audience on Climate Change

UCS staff scientist Brenda Ekwurzel takes a red pen to misleading statements in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial. Tim McDonnell/Mother Jones

Brace yourself for some shocking news: a new study on Friday found that the two major publications of Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation greatly mislead their audiences about climate change. The Union of Concerned Scientists combed six months of Fox News broadcasting and a year’s worth of Wall Street Journal editorial pages for mentions of the science of “climate change” and “global warming,” then compared each claim to “mainstream scientific understanding” of the topic at hand. Here’s what they found:

Data from Union of Concerned ScientistsData from Union of Concerned Scientists

“Everywhere I go, what I hear quoted back to me as scientific fact is often wrong,” said Brenda Ekwurzel, a UCS staff scientist who presented the study to an audience gathered to discuss the state of climate communication with TIME environment editor Bryan Walsh and Harvard oceanographer James McCarthy. “That, to me, is so discouraging.”

What’s especially creepy about the study is how low the bar is for what constitutes “accurate.” From the study:

Citations deemed to be misleading questioned either the reality of climate change or the fact that recent climate change is largely due human activities, or they advanced other arguments that dismissed established climate science.

In other words, this is quantitative proof that the climate change debate in America is still mired in bickering over whether the problem even exists or not. Here’s the breakdown on the shapes misleading statements took between the two outlets, which together reach an audience of nearly four million: UCSUCS

UCSUCS After releasing the study, Ekwurzel led a group from the New York Public Library science branch to Bryant Park, to stage a mark-up of all the errors in a recent Wall Street Journal editorial, which was roundly rebuffed by the very scientists it quoted. News Corporation has a history of blantantly misrepresenting science, of course. But since, as McCarthy reminded the crowd, “most of the public doesn’t have the opportunity to have a conversation with a scientist on climate change,” findings like these go a long way toward explaining why many elected officials are completely intransigent on climate action.

More Mother Jones reporting on Climate Desk

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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