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Gov. Greg Abbott

Photo by World Travel & Tourism Council is licensed under CC BY 2.0

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

A poll released this weekend by the progressive strategy firm Data for Progress found the American public did not buy into a relentless propaganda campaign from right-wing media, which attempted to blame the Texas blackouts on renewable energy sources.

Instead, the public understood the reality of what went on: All power sources in the state had failed, including the state's primary fossil fuels.

The poll asked respondents which of the following options caused the power outages in Texas:

  1. Unusually cold winter weather conditions caused Texas power plants, including coal, natural gas, nuclear, and renewable energy sources, to go offline. This caused power outages across the state.
  2. Texas invested too much in renewable energy like wind and solar energy. Wind turbines froze because of the cold weather which led to power outages across the state.

In response, 64 percent of surveyed people correctly picked the first option, compared to only 28 percent who thought that Texas had over-invested itself in wind turbines. Even 50 percent of self-identified Republicans chose the correct answer, while 41 percent blamed renewable energy. The poll was conducted from February 19 to 22, surveying likely voters nationally via web panels.

poll graphs

Among self-identified Republicans who watch Fox News, the percentage was slightly lower: 47 percent picked the correct option. Finally, Republicans who watch Fox's far-right competitors Newsmax and One America News were even more divorced from reality — with an actual majority believing that the blackouts were because of wind turbines.

poll graphs

An earlier Media Matters study had found that Fox programming lied 128 times over less than 48 hours, falsely attributing the power outages to failures in renewable energy sources such as wind turbines.

For example, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott told Fox host Sean Hannity that his state's catastrophe "shows how the Green New Deal would be a deadly deal for the United States of America." (Of course, the Green New Deal is not currently the law in Texas.) Meanwhile, Abbott had admitted in other settings that the state's natural gas and coal infrastructure had also frozen over.

Other right-wing media outlets pushing this campaign included Fox's corporate cousin The Wall Street Journal and the Sinclair Broadcast Group and its local TV stations across the country.

By contrast, local media in Texas widely debunked the misinformation, explaining that natural gas infrastructure was freezing over and more to blame than wind power, and that the root problem was from the state's failure to require utilities to winterize.

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