Fox’s Changing Climate
Network fails to provide even a hint of
balance in global warming special.
By Dan Gainor
Free Market Project
Nov. 16, 2005
Â Â Â Â
The climate is changing right before our very eyes. It’s not the
weather I’m talking about – it’s the media climate.
Â Â Â Â On Sunday, November 14, Fox News set aside its status
as the best network for coverage of the global warming debate and
for one night became one of the worst. According to the Fox special
“The Heat Is On,” “The earth is sending out a desperate alarm.” Now,
conservative and free-market groups as well as climate change
skeptics are sending out their own alarm.
Â Â Â Â Climatologist Patrick J. Michaels has pointed out that
predictions of climate disaster are overblown and “we now know with
considerable confidence that warming within the foreseeable future
will be modest,” he said in a November 15 Cybercast News Service
story. But Michaels added an important note: “The other side, which
I now include Fox News on, seems to do everything it can to suppress
Â Â Â Â There is no question Michaels is right about the latest
Fox broadcast. It began with all the hype of a Hollywood movie
trailer. Flickering scenes of smokestacks, trucks and cars whizzing
down the highway and dead fish in a stream filled the screen as the
program began. “The Heat Is On” went downhill from there, piling on
a steady stream of left-wing activists, Hollywood celebrities,
inaccuracies and exaggerations to paint a picture of a global
climate apocalypse. It even included clips from the left-wing
propaganda film “The Day After Tomorrow” as well as an interview
with Jeffrey Nachmanoff, one of its screenwriters.
Â Â Â Â Jamie Colby of Fox News introduced the special by
saying, “You’ll hear primarily from those experts and citizens who
believe that global warming is a crisis.” Colby added that “Many
people disagree with that statement.” That’s very true, including
many scientists, but none of them was cited in the hour-long
documentary. In all, the “Fair & Balanced” network included nearly
30 people in the broadcast and almost all were strong believers in
climate change. The only other people represented were a few
environmentally friendly speakers who took no public position on the
Â Â Â Â That’s quite a departure for Fox. A Nov. 8, 2004, Free
Market Project (FMP) study found Fox News the best of all five major
TV networks in its news stories about global warming and the Kyoto
Protocol. FMP analyzed news coverage from Jan. 20, 2001, until Sept.
30, 2004, and found “The Fox News Channel delivered better and more
balanced reporting on global warming.”
Â Â Â Â But that sure wasn’t what viewers received with the
latest broadcast. Reporter Rick Folbaum, who hosted the documentary,
went so far as to describe the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental
Panel on Climate Change as the place “where policy makers turn for
the last word on global warming.” What he left out is that the only
policy makers who do that are the ones with a global warming agenda.
Â Â Â Â The heat was on Fox News for several days before the
broadcast as climate change critics heard reports about what was
planned. Several groups weighed in and tried to get Fox to present
both sides. Instead, what Fox News delivered was worse than a
similar broadcast from CNN in March.
Â Â Â Â CNN’s “Melting Point: Tracking the Global Warming
Threat” at least delivered some arguments from the other side of the
contentious issue. Although host Miles O’Brien did his best to
undermine the credibility of those spokespeople, at least he
Â Â Â Â The Fox program even added errors to the debate.
Folbaum claimed that “Eight years ago, the Kyoto Protocol was pushed
as a solution. The agreement required the U.S. to cut emissions by 7
percent” by 2012. That is completely incorrect. The U.S. would have
been required to cut emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels – nearly
20 percent below 2004 estimates.
Â Â Â Â He also claimed “the Bush White House said Kyoto would
cost companies and the American taxpayers too much money.” Actually,
the massive cost and job loss figures for Kyoto don’t come from the
Bush White House. They come from the government’s Energy Information
Administration and were calculated during the Clinton
administration. According to EIA, Kyoto would cost the United States
a couple hundred billion dollars per year. And it wasn’t only Bush
who rejected the treaty, either – the Senate opposed it 95-0.
Â Â Â Â No network is perfect. And no viewer will ever be happy
with a news network 100 percent of the time. But they should expect
a network to live up to its principles. Now the challenge is for Fox
News to do just that, stand by its “Fair & Balanced” motto and air a
similar special expressing the opposing views on the subject.
Dan Gainor is a career journalist and The Boone Pickens Free
Market Fellow. He is also director of the Media Research Center’s
Free Market Project