Right-Wing Media Deny Climate Change Despite Extreme Heat Waves

Right-Wing Media Deny Climate Change Despite Extreme Heat Waves

As the climate crisis becomes more evident and destructive, even exceeding climate scientists’ earlier predictions, Fox News and other influential right-wing outlets and figures are downplaying the severity of climate-fueled events and pushing dangerous climate denial.

This summer has been marked by a series of record-breaking extreme weather events, illustrative of the rapidly intensifying effects of global warming. Unprecedented heat waves, wildfires, and floods have wreaked havoc across North America. Meanwhile, global sea surface temperatures have reached alarming levels, and the world just experienced its hottest day on record — four days in a row. These events align with scientists' warnings, but the acceleration of warming and the intensity of this summer’s extreme heat suggest that the climate crisis is unfolding faster than expected.

Last month, when smoke from hundreds of wildfires raging across Canada polluted the air over major population centers in the U.S., Fox News dismissed the link between the fires and climate change; meanwhile conspiracy theories seeking alternative explanations for Canada’s record-breaking wildfire season flourished online. In response to news that Earth had reached its hottest temperatures ever recorded, bad actors attempted to distract from the unsettling milestone by focusing on CNN’s use of the phrase “hottest day ever.” As deadly heat continues to scorch parts of the U.S., Asia, and Europe with no end in sight, and with a 1,000-year flood event having left parts of Vermont and New York state underwater, right-wing media cling to talking points that deny climate science.

By flooding the zone with climate denial right when the climate crisis is most evident, right-wing media run cover for Republican decision-makers who are actively obstructing climate action, ward off accountability for the fossil fuel industry, and pollute information systems for those attempting to understand the link between extreme weather and our dependence on fossil fuels. This tactic, like the extreme heat, has no end in sight.

Right-wing media responded to deadly climate change-fueled heat and flooding with denial and delay

  • Fox Business host Stuart Varney indulged climate change denier Marc Morano and said climate change is “a good debate.” When discussing extreme heat in Phoenix, Arizona, Morano said, “This is not outside the normal bounds of hot summer weather,” and claimed that CNN, The New York Times, and others are “weaponizing hot summer heat waves to turn it into some kind of climate action.” Varney asked Morano whether “that is not the result of CO2 emissions'' and said, “It's a good debate. This is a very good debate.” [Fox Business, Varney & Co., 7/19/23]
  • Far-right radio host Steven Crowder hosted climate contrarian Bjorn Lomborg, who downplayed the climate crisis by arguing that more people die from cold than heat: “We are not talking about a world where most people die from heat. No, most people die from cold. Cold is fantastically more dangerous for a lot of different reasons.” [Rumble, Louder with Crowder, 7/19/23]
  • The Daily Wire’s Matt Walsh suggests that the extreme heat is normal for summer: “Well it’s summertime and that means it's hot outside … This is when the media, as it does every year, claims that the hot weather is a sign of our impending planetary doom.” [The Daily Wire, The Matt Walsh Show, 7/18/23]
  • Far-right pundit James Lindsay: “Climate struggle sessions ramping up. They're going to try and fail to make that transition again. The propaganda isn't going to work this time either, though.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Fox News host Laura Ingraham, in response to an Axios article about extreme weather: “I'm not taking@Axios seriously until they start crusading against coal burning in China — anyone who claims to worry about carbon emissions should start there or button it. Even the ‘best states for climate change’ get hit with extreme weather” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • COVID-19 conspiracy theorist Dr. Naomi Wolf: “Oh! Conclusions: this will happen more and more often because climate change so: stay indoors, do remote work, ‘mask’. Back where we were again.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Right-wing Irish political activist and conspiracy theorist Ben Gilroy: “Today media continue to propagandise weather showing high temperatures in Death Valley USA — yet the park rangers wear jackets and gloves? The elites UN climate scam is really about securing a world government plutocracy, depopulation, and severely cutting your quality of life.” [Twitter, 7/18/23]
  • Fox host Jesse Watters downplayed the extreme heat as simply “summer”: “It's been a hot July. Some call it ‘global warming,’ some call it ‘summer.’ But what's the best way to beat the heat? Ice cream.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/17/23]
  • Lindsay mocked conditions in the southern U.S. that were so humid they had the potential to interfere with humans’ ability to sweat, pushing the limits of survivability. [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Longtime fossil fuel shill Steve Milloy: “@AP: 'Around the world, millions feel the heat of an unrelenting summer.' Two points: 1. It is summer. It gets hot. 2. There 8 billion in the world. If only 'millions' are experiencing extreme heat, that doesn't sound much like 'climate change.'” [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Misogynist influencer and alleged sex trafficker Tristan Tate: “They’re naming heatwaves like they used to name new ‘Covid variants’. Can somebody in the government give me the job of whoever makes the names up? I’ll do it for free. Watch out! The ‘lovely warm summer’ heatwave has just hit Europe.” [Twitter, 7/15/23]
  • COVID-19 conspiracy theorist and anti-vaccine influencer Dr. Eli David: “When the weather is a bit warmer than usual: Experts™: IT'S PROOF OF GLOBAL WARMING!!!!! When the weather is colder than usual: Experts™: WEATHER AND CLIMATE ARE TWO DIFFERENT THINGS YOU MORONS!!!!!” [Twitter, 7/17/23]
  • Newsmax host Chris Salcedo mocked concern over the record heat: “Newsflash folks, it gets hot in the summer.” He continued, “After a few particularly hot days on the Fourth of July weekend, the left — they went into full fearmongering mode.” Salcedo then interviewed Milloy, who warned that climate activists would call for climate lockdowns. [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 7/17/23]
  • On The Five, Jesse Watters attacked “the left” for connecting climate change to heat waves across the globe and mocked climate activists: “The left rushing to blame global warming for that dangerous heat wave gripping the nation and the world right now. But I think the heat's getting to their heads. Climate change-obsessed liberals are actually acting crazier than usual, with eco-extremists in Germany literally gluing their hands to airport runways as a way to sound the alarm on how the planet's cooked.” [Fox News, The Five, 7/17/23]
  • Fox host Greg Gutfeld also attempted to downplay the record-breaking heat with bizarre logic: “The problem with using weather — like saying, ‘This place broke records’ — how many states, how many countries didn't break records? Nobody ever provides you the context. They’re going, ‘Three countries had record breaking heat waves.’ It’s like, well, ‘How many countries are there?’” [Fox News, The Five, 7/17/23]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Lomborg suggested that more air conditioning is the way to address extreme heat: “The way to fix this, of course, is to make sure that people get lots of air conditioning and that they can actually afford the energy that they will run their air conditioning on. That’s one. The second one is to remember that, yes, there are many people dying from heat, but many, many more people dying from cold.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 7/17/23]
  • Climate change denier and former University of Alabama professor Matthew Wielicki: “We used to call this summer. Now we call this a climate crisis.” [Twitter, 7/15/23]
  • Milloy: “India's monsoon season is not affected by emissions. Indians have died in monsoon flooding since there have been Indians and monsoons. It is really dishonest and disgusting to surf tragic deaths for climate.” [Twitter, 7/14/23]
  • Right-wing British pundit Brendan O’Neill, who has been praised by anti-renewable energy activist Michael Shellenberger, wrote that “global warming could be good for humankind.” Citing Lomborg, O’Neill wrote that “the truth is that global warming could be good for humankind” because more people die from the cold than heat. “It’s pissing down in Britain,” he continued, “Where’s our global warming? Even the name of the heatwave is designed to conjure up visions of hellfire and torment.” [Spiked, 7/14/23]
  • On Fox News at Night, Carl Demaio, a political operative and conservative radio host, called a California campaign to warn residents about climate-driven extreme heat “wasteful spending” and “fear porn.” [Fox News, Fox News at Night, 7/12/23]
  • Newsmax host Eric Bolling, in response to calls for climate action after flooding in the Northeast, denied that human activity is responsible for warming: “It's raining, so we all must change our behavior. Unprecedented weather events — look flooding’s terrible, loss of property is a disaster, and our hearts go out to those affected. But just imagine, for one moment, the ridiculousness and the pompousness to think that: one, our behavior has any real impact on weather and the Earth, and two, even if that were true — which it’s not — that we could do anything about it without making things worse.” [Newsmax, Eric Bolling The Balance, 7/11/23]
  • Fox host Laura Ingraham also mocked the extreme heat and calls to action, suggesting that climate change is a made-up crisis: “It's hot, hot, hot all right. After all, we're in the middle of a season called ‘summer.’” Ingraham later played a clip from a previous show, arguing that “COVID lockdowns set the predicate for more to come.” She said, “Their so-called public health experts were wrong on everything from lockdowns to masks to social distancing. And yet now we see the usual suspects lining up to exploit another hyped crisis: of course, I’m talking about climate change.” [Fox News, The Ingraham Angle, 7/11/23]
  • Right-wing journalist and author Alex Berenson: As climate change hysteria reaches a new level of screeching (1-in-1000 this, world's hottest that), remember that weather-related deaths have PLUNGED since 1970. The wealthier the world becomes, the easier managing climate change will be. And wealth requires energy. Period. [Twitter, 7/10/23]
  • On Jesse Watters Primetime, guest host Pete Hegseth mocked reports of record-breaking heat and blamed media for “hyping climate insanity”: If there is one thing the mindless left loves to magically discover every year, it’s that summer is hot. Hegseth continued, “It was hotter in New York in April. And it’s not even the hottest June we’ve ever had. The data shows that the 80s and 90s … were a lot hotter.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 7/7/23]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Right-Wing Media Provoked Fake Panic Over New York Pizza Oven Rule

Right-Wing Media Provoked Fake Panic Over New York Pizza Oven Rule

Right-wing media are trying to convince viewers that climate activism in New York restaurants will ruin the city’s famous pizza. The fabricated crisis is just the latest attempt to stoke culture war outrage over appliances and other products in an ongoing campaign to turn Americans against benign safety and energy efficiency updates.

On June 25, the New York Post misleadingly reported: “The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has drafted new rules that would order eateries using the decades-old baking method to slice carbon emissions by up to 75%.”

The article quoted an anonymous “pizza restaurateur” who claimed that “this is an unfunded mandate and it’s going to cost us a fortune not to mention ruining the taste of the pizza totally destroying the product. … And for what? You really think that you’re changing the environment with these eight or nine pizza ovens?!” The Post also spoke to a random customer who bashed the rule, saying, “I’m all for responsible environmental practice but tell Al Gore to take one less private jet or something. Give me a break!”

Several other right-wing news outlets including Fox News and Newsmax picked up on the story, magnifying what turned out to be incorrect information about the new rule and ignoring other key details from the Post article, while the paper’s editorial board attacked “the green assault on NYC pizza.”

Two days after the New York Post published its story, Fox News was still dedicating considerable airtime to the city’s pizza oven regulations. On June 27, Fox aired 52 minutes discussing the Post's pizza story. For comparison, the network spent just 23 minutes that day reporting on leaked audio of former President Donald Trump discussing classified documents seemingly taken from the White House — showcasing how right-wing media seized on the pizza oven rule to push their preferred narratives.

The 2015 rule is intended to reduce air pollution, not climate change and hasn't affected pizzerias

The New York Department of Environmental Protection is asking restaurants with cooktops that were installed prior to May 2016 to install “control devices” like smoke scrubbers to help manage harmful air pollution, including “odors, smoke, and particulates.” But right-wing media and even some mainstream outlets are reporting that the rule is meant to reduce planet-warming carbon emissions instead.

Climate journalists Emily Atkin and Arielle Samuelson pointed out this discrepancy in their June 27 newsletter and rebutted the widely circulated claims that wood-fired ovens would be banned or that installing control devices would change the taste of pizza. They also noted that a rule requiring this technology on cooktops installed after 2016 had already been put in place nearly a decade ago.

Atkin and Samuelson clarify that the pizza oven rule is really about reducing air pollution:

The proposed rule states that coal- and wood-fired cook stoves covered by the rule are only asked to reduce particulate matter emissions by 75 percent.

Particulate pollution and carbon pollution are not the same thing. Particulate pollution refers to the tiny pieces of solids and liquids that we can breathe into our lungs and harm our health: think smoke, smog, dirt, and soot. Carbon pollution refers to the greenhouse gas that warms the planet.

This is an air pollution rule. It’s not a climate rule. [Heated, 6/27/23]

They also highlight that this rule has already been in place for a few years, yet pizza quality seems unchanged:

The Post’s anonymous “pizza restaurateur” said the new rules would take away the crispy charred crust “that makes the pizza taste great.” But there is nothing in the rule that mandates pizzerias get rid of their high-temperature ovens.

The only thing the rule requires is for pizzeria owners to have an architect or engineer come check out the oven, and see if it’s feasible to install an emissions scrubber. If it’s not, they can apply for a waiver.

An even stronger piece of evidence against the anonymous “pizza restaurateur’s” claim is that this rule is already in place. It’s been nearly a decade since New York passed its 2015 law requiring emissions-scrubbing technology on commercial wood- and coal-fired ovens built after 2016. [Heated, 6/27/23]

Finally, Atkin and Samuelson note, “That 2015 law is actually the reason for the city’s latest proposed pizza oven regulations—it’s not because of Green New Dealers, as the Post’s editorial board claims.” [Heated, 6/27/23]

On CNN This Morning, news correspondents Christine Romans and Bill Weir reassure New Yorkers that no one is coming for their pizza, but the segment still featured a graphic repeating the false claim that the rule is meant to reduce carbon emissions: “If you think that New York City is going to take away your pizza oven, fuggedaboutit. That is not going to happen. What they’re asking is that you seriously consider adding a device that would reduce emissions if you have one of these pizza ovens before 2016,” says Romans. “But on the right, there’s like this outrage machine about this that is very loosely based in fact.” Weir clarifies, “This is much more about the people who live upstairs from a coal-fired pizza oven — or wood-fired — who breathe that smoke, than it is about climate change and regulation.” [CNN, CNN This Morning, 6/28/23]

Right-wing media blame climate advocates and the left for taking things away

Right-wing media connected this supposed attack on New York City pizza to other recent rules meant to cut down on harmful pollution and make appliances more energy efficient, often based on the false assumption that the rule was meant to primarily address climate change.

They frequently mentioned gas stoves, which became a right-wing rallying call after it was reported that the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission was considering implementing restrictions on new gas stoves to address health concerns and “indoor air quality hazards” from their emissions. In May, New York became the first state to ban new gas stoves in some types of buildings, though restaurants are exempt. The latest pushback over New York City pizza ovens is part of right-wing media’s ongoing efforts to keep Americans reliant on fossil fuels by opposing the electrification of homes and appliances.

  • Fox News host Greg Gutfeld says, “They’re outlawing gas stoves, and now they want the pizza ovens.” “No surprise, the science says ovens caused several ice ages, the eruption of Mount Vesuvius, and the canceling of Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. … They’re outlawing gas stoves, and now they want the pizza ovens. What are we supposed to cook on, solar panels?” [Fox News, Gutfeld!, 6/27/23]
  • Fox News correspondent Nate Foy misinforms viewers about the rules governing the proposed new regulations on pizza ovens: “According to these new proposed rules from New York City, any business with a coal- or wood-fired oven that was purchased before 2016 would have to attempt to lower carbon emissions by 75%. One way to do that, Sandra, would be to purchase filters that could cost $20,000. A lot of pizza shop owners are really worried about the cost associated with that, also the possible impact on the taste of their pizza.” [Fox News, The Faulkner Focus, 6/27/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Jimmy Failla on Kudlow: “We were told by the Democrats, if you remember, well the government needs to stay out of our bedrooms. Well, you’ve got the government in my garage, in my kitchen, in my pizza place. Like, what’s off limits? Can we establish some boundaries?” [Fox Business, Kudlow, 6/27/23]
  • Fox & Friends interviews pizza shop owner who says the rule is “like killing a fly with a sledgehammer” before admitting he already put a smoke filter in years ago “because it was bothering my neighbors.” Paul Giannone stated, “I think it's ridiculous. I think it's like killing a fly with a sledgehammer, first of all. They say that a hundred places would have to do this. The mayor compared the smoke that comes out of these hundred ovens to the fires that were in Canada. He said that, OK, which is ridiculous. And, you know, I put mine in, first of all, because I was told that we had to have it by January 2020. I just found out through all of this that I didn't have to do it right away. I put mine in because it was bothering my neighbors.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends,6/27/23]
  • Speaking to pizza shop owners, Fox & Friends First co-host Todd Piro quotes climate denial shill Marc Morano’s claim it would take burning a pizza oven “everyday for 849 years to equal the amount of carbon emissions from John Kerry's jet in one year.” “I want to get your reaction to this stat. Marc Morano, he’s an environmental guy, understands how things work. He’s been on our show multiple times. He says you would have to burn a pizza oven like yours everyday for 849 years to equal the amount of carbon emissions from John Kerry's jet in one year. What is your reaction?” [Fox News, Fox & Friends First, 6/27/23]
  • One America News host Alison Steinberg spoke to Larry Behrens, the director of communication at Koch-connected organization Power The Future, using the so-called “climate rule” to fearmonger over other policies: “It makes me wonder if there's some grand conspiracy from the Chicago pizza folks to try to undermine New York pizza. The fact of the matter is, this is another time where the eco-left finds something that is endearing to our way of life, something that we love — gas stoves, gas-powered cars, the things that we use that absolutely do not bother anyone else, like a great slice of New York City pizza — and they can't tolerate it because they can’t use it to control us.” [OANN, In Focus, 6/27/23]
  • Students for Trump founder Ryan Fournier: “NYC Mayor [Eric] Adams is cracking down on pizza ovens to reduce emissions while traveling in a motorcade of 5 SUVs. You can't make this up.” [Twitter, 6/27/23]
  • Right-wing comedian and Gutfeld! writer Joe Machi calls the rule “a ruse” on The Story with Martha MacCallum: “Look, those Canadian wildfires were bad, but you’re not breathing in that at the pizza restaurant. No one’s even complaining you’re breathing that in. … It’s going to have nothing to do with climate change, it’s all a big ruse. It’s going to make things more expensive for the mom and pop pizza shops.” MacCallum later adds, “We all remember that they’re also going after the gas stoves.” [Fox News, The Story with Martha MacCallum, 6/27/23]
  • On Fox News @ Night, chef Andrew Gruel claims pizza regulations are a “red herring to push natural gas bans” and you’d need “probably a million coal-fire pizzas in order to match the amount of carbon emissions that comes out of one trip from John Kerry's private plane.” “The amount of coal fire ovens there are right now in New York City is minuscule. This is a drop in the bucket. This means nothing. I think it's a red herring for them to push the natural gas bans on stoves. … I've said it as well, you'd have to cook probably — and this is a stat, this is science — probably a million coal-fire pizzas in order to match the amount of carbon emissions that comes out of one trip from John Kerry's private plane.” [Fox News, Fox News @ Night, 6/26/23]
  • Fox News contributor Sean Duffy claims pizza oven rules are evidence that “ecoterrorists … want to control our lives” by “getting rid of gas stoves.” “This does nothing to impact climate or climate change or global warming. They should focus on India and China if they want to impact climate change. But this is a group of people who are all about control. I think they are ecoterrorists, frankly, they want to control our lives. And, again, remember on the gas stove front, as we did those stories, they were like, ‘That’s fake news. We’re not going to get rid of gas stoves.’ And sure enough, here they are getting rid of gas stoves. Whatever happened to a country where we believed in freedom and people were able to make decisions and choices for themselves? But now we have a group of folks coming after things that don’t have any impact on the environment, don’t have any real impact on the health of the human being. A gas-fired stove is completely safe, and leave them alone.” [Fox News, Outnumbered, 6/26/23]
  • Fox & Friends First co-host Carly Shimkus asserts that the rule is “a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.” “OK, I am listening and have a baby in the city now and want him to breathe clean air. And then they start talking about pizza, and it really threw me for a loop because I was like maybe they'll address the subway smoke that randomly billows out of the street, you just have to hold your breath and walk through and hope for the best, or the people that use the streets as their own personal bathroom. But they talked about pizza. And it just really felt like a solution to a problem that doesn't exist.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/26/23]
  • Fox Business host Stuart Varney claims “environmental justice groups” want to “tell you what to eat and how to cook it”: “They’re gonna tell you what to eat and how to cook it. They want to do all of that. This has been pushed by the environmental justice groups. So, be careful here. I don't know how this is going to work out, but everybody is going to be paying more, and we all have to conform to the environmentalist rules.” [Fox News, Fox and Friends, 6/26/23]
  • Responding to the New York Post story, Twitter owner Elon Musk incorrectly suggests that the rule is meant to address climate change: “This is utter bs. It won’t make a difference to climate change.” [Twitter, 6/26/23]
  • Conservative social media influencer Wall Street Silver repeats misinformation about “the CO2 output” of pizza ovens: “The mayor of NYC has done enough private jet travel to vastly exceed the CO2 output of 100% of the combined restaurants using wood burning pizza ovens.” [Twitter, 6/26/23]
  • Right-wing media personality Rogan O'Handley, who operates the Twitter account DC Draino, tries to use recent air pollution from wildfire smoke as an excuse to be lax about pollution from ovens: “Remember when forest fires caused by arsonists in a foreign country completely blanketed NYC with smoke? Do you know how Dems responded? Not by demanding reparations from Canada. Nope, they’re going to punish small pizza business owners with ovens. Insane.” [Twitter, 6/26/23]
  • Right-wing troll James Lindsay: “You think it's just a meme, but the next step in the dialectical narrative game is that the ‘far right’ is doing a culture war over NYC pizza.” [Twitter, 6/26/23]
  • Newsmax host Chris Salcedo claims New York City is “cracking down on pizzerias in the name of climate change.” “It comes after New York City drafted new rules demanding that any pizza joint using wood- and coal-fired stove cut down on carbon emissions by 75%. About 100 restaurants would be impacted in the rotten apple. Pizza owners are pushing back saying well, it will crush their businesses, which many critics say is exactly the goal.” [Newsmax, The Chris Salcedo Show, 6/26/23]
  • Newsmax’ The National Report pushes the false claim that the rule targets “carbon emissions” and suggests that it will “change the taste” of pizza.” “Now, historic pizza joints could be forced to cut down on carbon emissions by 75%. … So about 100 restaurants in the city would be impacted by this. Now, some of the New York pizza restaurant owners, they're pushing back, saying by changing the ovens, you're going to change the taste.” [Newsmax, The National Report, 6/26/23]
  • TheBlaze writes that “New York City pizza is the latest thing the government is going after in the name of climate change.” [TheBlaze, 6/26/23]
  • Newsmax panel on American Agenda warns “the liberals in New York City are coming after your favorite pizza joints.” Panelist Melanie Collette says, “Just like everything else the green Gestapo tends to do, this is not going to move the needle.” [Newsmax, American Agenda, 6/26/23]

Right-wing media claim that that rule would eliminate authentic New York pizza

Right-wing influencers lamented that the rule would hinder the ability of classic New York restaurants to make good pizza or that it would totally ban wood or coal-fired ovens. This is false, but it hasn’t stopped conservatives from having a meltdown over the new rule. Far-right activist Scott LoBaido, who has organized with the Proud Boys, received media attention for throwing pizza at City Hall in protest.

There are only about 100 restaurants in New York City that would be impacted because they have older coal or wood-fired ovens. But the owner of Paulie Gee’s, a beloved pizzeria in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, said that while the technology is expensive, the restaurant’s neighbors were “happier” and it did not change the product.

  • Fox host Jesse Watters, who just took over Tucker Carlson’s former 8 p.m. slot, says New York City Mayor Eric Adams wants to “split up the beautiful marriage between pizza and coal-fired ovens. He is floating the idea of banning restaurants from using wood and coal ovens because that is what is going to save the environment.” “So the vegan mayor thinks it could be a pizza for two minutes in a coal oven is going to save the planet. Wrong. … What are we supposed to do? Microwave the pizza? It is going to crush everybody who loves good pizza.” [Fox News, Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/27/23]
  • Fox host Sean Hannity says pizza is being threatened by the “radical left”: “Meanwhile, the woke madness continues in New York City, where the best pizza in the world — basically the only good thing in this Adam Schiffhole city — is in serious danger thanks to the radical left.” His guest, OutKick host Charly Arnolt, adds, “Well, the thing is if you live in New York City there is a good chance you could possibly be stabbed on your way to grab a slice of that delicious pizza. I mean, there's crime everywhere. This is the crazy thing about it is these leftists, they’re focused on this climate change, this agenda, when really they're just out to make our lives super miserable.” [Fox News, Hannity, 6/27/23]
  • Newsmax host Rob Schmitt interviews LoBaido, bashing climate policy and spewing climate change denial: “It’s worth noting none of these people that work in the environmental sector of this city had a problem with the Paris climate accord that actually incentivized China to increase their emissions all the way until 2030. No, they'd rather just come after small business owners in New York City and all over the United States, bankrupt all the good pizza places and make this city just a little bit more miserable than it already is. That's the agenda apparently.” LoBaido says that the sun causes climate change and Schmitt adds, “The Earth has been here for billions of years, and in time the temperature goes up. The temperature goes down at times. … We’re blaming the wrong thing and we’re allowing governments to destroy our quality of life.” [Newxmax, Rob Schmitt Tonight, 6/27/23]
  • Former Newsmax host Benny Johnson says that “New York has canceled pizza”: “The point of the Green New Deal, the point of the Great Reset, the point of the World Economic Forum is to humiliate you, denigrate you, and to prove that you, the little people, cannot have the nice little things that you have wanted so badly in your life. … You’re no longer allowed to eat pizza. Microwave Tostinos only in New York. [The Benny Show, 6/27/23]
  • In an interview, Johnson compares LoBaido to Paul Revere for throwing pizza at City Hall: “This is the Paul Revere moment of our time, this is the Boston Tea Party of our time. … You took that pizza to the front of the mayor’s house, I think, and you chucked it over the fence. And we say thank you.” [The Benny Show, 6/27/23]
  • Fox News Radio host Jimmy Failla writes that Democrats are “banning pizza ovens”: “Democrats told us things would go back to normal if we just elected Biden. Now they’re pushing kids to chop their d**ks off and banning pizza ovens. I kinda feel like we were lied to.” [Twitter, 6/27/23]
  • On America’s Newsroom, Fox News contributor Tom Shillue praises LoBaido for throwing pizza at City Hall. “It’s the kind of guy you don't want to mess with. Actually, I want a slice now, it’s early but I kind of would love a slice from this guy. But when you go into those pizza places, sometimes you are intimidated by that pizza guy. You want to get it right. It’s almost like the soup Nazi. … I don't want to mess with this guy. I think he’s great. He’s an activist.” [Fox News, America’s Newsroom, 6/27/23]
  • Daily Wire host Michael Knowles claims liberals want to “shut down the pizza shops” to “make you suffer”: “Everybody hates the smell of pizza, of course, and that’s why we’re going to shut down the pizza shops. Does anyone really believe, first of all, that the emissions are going to cause the sun monster to end the world? No. … They’re going after your pizza specifically because it will make you suffer.” [The Daily Wire, The Michael Knowles Show, 6/27/23]
  • Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade laments that soon “it’s going to be electric ovens” and says “of course it’s going to change the taste”: “Take one of the great tourist attractions, the thing that makes New York New York and decide we’re going to have to stop that. Soon it’s going to be electric pizza ovens. … Of course it’s going to change the taste.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 6/26/23]
  • Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy writes, “Give me pizza or give us death!” In an accompanying video rant, Portnoy says: “Apparently in New York City, some fucking little liberal arts, Ivy League, pink-haired, crazy liberal who’s never worked one day in the real world is on an environmental commission, and they woke up from their little nappy-poo, wherever that may be, and they’re like, ‘I figured out how to save the world today. We have to get rid of coal oven pizzerias in New York City.’" [Twitter, 6/26/23]
  • Post Millennial writer Libby Emmons falsely claims that “climate activists” want to “do away” with authentic pizza: “Now they want to do away with the best pizza that exists in the world, and it's all in service to climate alarmism. … The new plan from the geniuses at the city level is to do away with this tradition, the tradition of my ancestors, and to make pizzerias that use this old-time method not only pay out the nose to keep doing it, but to make the pizza a shadow of its former glory.” [The Post Millennial, 6/26/23]
  • Ungoverned host Shawn Farash advises people to leave New York because of the new rule: “The one thing that New York still has going for it, they’re cracking down on. Why? Because of course, carbon emissions. You can’t use coal and wood to make your pizza! What are we going to do, eat electric pizza? Are we kidding? ... If you’re still in New York and this asinine bullcrap is going on in your backyard, what are you doing?” [LFATV, Ungoverned with Shawn Farash, 6/26/23]
  • The Daily Caller runs an article with the headline “Climate Extremists Are Now Coming For Your Coal, Wood-fired Pizzas.” [Daily Caller, 6/26/23]
  • Conservative Substack author @amuse: “PIZZA NAZIS: New York Democrats crack down on coal and wood-fired pizzerias - they must cut down carbon emissions up to 75%.” [Twitter, 6/25/23]

Correction (6/30/23): This piece originally stated that Todd Starnes had discussed the pizza rule on the June 27 edition of Fox & Friends First. In fact, it was co-host Todd Piro.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Phony Fox News Narrative Blames

False Fox News Narrative Claims Biden Is Raising Energy Costs

In recent months, Fox News has pushed a series of unrelenting narratives blaming the current energy crisis solely on the Biden administration, while absolving the fossil fuel industry from any wrongdoing, despite the industry’s anti-consumerist practices. As gas prices continue to break records, reaching $5 per gallon nationally for the first time on June 11, Fox has been escalating its cynical and disingenuous attacks on the Biden administration.

One of the most pervasive narratives that Fox hosts and guests have been increasingly advancing is the idea that the Biden administration is deliberately harming the American energy sector to usher in a transition to renewable energy. Although this line of attack was floated as early as April, it is being deployed by Fox at an increasing pace on both its so-called “news” side and opinion side.

The narrative seems to serve a nefarious purpose. It allows Fox to continue running cover for the fossil fuel industry by pretending the conversation about energy prices has been settled. Instead of recognizing the complex economic factors that determine the price at the pump, Fox has repeatedly accused the Biden administration of intentionally harming energy producers and consumers, which allows the network to leapfrog over causation directly to intent. In Fox’s telling, Biden is no longer incompetent; he’s an evil mastermind unleashing the power of the federal government against the noble fossil fuel industry and working-class Americans to crash the economy and unilaterally enact the Green New Deal.

Despite Fox’s claims to the contrary, Biden has pivoted away from aggressive actions to reduce carbon emissions and toward the fossil fuel industry’s demands for a regulatory environment that favors increased production of oil and gas. But rather than presenting this reality to its viewers, the network is content to repeat and amplify harmful narratives. From hearings about fossil fuel industry price gouging, to Biden’s “incredible transition” comment, to Sen. Debbie Stabenow’s (D-MI) remarks about electric vehicles and gas prices, Fox finds a way to blame the Biden administration and claim that the economic pain millions of Americans are experiencing is deliberate.

Below is a nonexhaustive catalog of Fox News personalities and guests advancing this false and cynical narrative.

  • Host Tucker Carlson: “How would you go about taking full control over an economy built on fossil fuels? Well you'd first have to break the existing economy.”

    Host Tucker Carlson outlined an elaborate conspiracy theory in which the Biden administration worked to deliberately “make fossil fuels unaffordable for the average person” in order to push his green agenda. Carlson said: “You wouldn’t want to think that your government would intentionally exacerbate the suffering of millions of Ukrainian civilians in order to take over America's energy grid, but that seems to be exactly what is happening right now. And we know this because the administration essentially told us so.” [Tucker Carlson Tonight, 4/1/22]

  • Guest host Tammy Bruce: “It’s almost as though they’re moving us deliberately into, like, a Venezuela kind of thing.”

    Hannity guest host Tammy Bruce questioned whether the Biden administration was deliberately harming the fossil fuel industry. Her guest, fossil fuel shill Daniel Turner, said that even before Russia invaded Ukraine, the Biden administration had a “deliberate” strategy to “make fossil fuels unattractive” in order to sell its green agenda. He continued, “They purposefully made fossil fuels expensive, and we’re feeling the consequence of that right now.” [Hannity, 4/15/22]

  • Guest Quill Robinson: “This is the result of deliberate policy on the part of the Democrats.”

    Quill Robinson, vice president of governmental affairs for a right-wing think tank with Koch network connections, appeared on Fox News Live and claimed that the Democratic Party was “more focused on shutting down the fossil fuel industry than keeping gas affordable for everyday Americans.” [Fox News Live, 4/24/22]

  • Host Will Cain: “When it comes to gas prices, … what we’re seeing is the effect of an intentional policy.”

    During a segment about gas prices on The Faulkner Focus, anchor Harris Faulkner read from a Daily Caller op-ed that accused the Biden administration of harming the fossil fuel industry to force consumers toward renewable energy. Fox & Friends Weekend co-host Will Cain agreed, saying, “Rising prices is the goal of the policy. … The problems are by design.” [The Faulkner Focus, 4/28/22]

  • Contributor Sean Duffy: “They get to accomplish their agenda of the Green New Deal.”

    Fox contributor Sean Duffy appeared on The Faulkner Focus and claimed that he overheard Democratic lawmakers “talk about the desire to have the cost of gas go up so people would make a transition to green energy.” He then asserted, “So this is all part of the plan. And yes, the politics are tough. But they see a light at the end of the tunnel that they get to accomplish their agenda of the Green New Deal.” [The Faulkner Focus, 5/17/22]

  • Contributor Marc Thiessen: “It seems to a lot of Americans like this is intentional."

  • Washington Post columnist, fossil fuel shill, and Fox News contributor Marc Thiessen appeared on The Faulkner Focus during a segment about record gas prices and the Biden administration and stated, “It seems to a lot of Americans like this is intentional.” He continued, “They want the gas prices to go up so that we can stop using fossil fuels … . Their goal is to transform this economy and they care more about climate change than the climate in our personal economy.” [The Faulkner Focus, 5/20/22]

  • Host Rachel Campos-Duffy: “Well, those prices are intentional.”

    During a news rundown about record gas prices on Fox & Friends Saturday, host Rachel Campos-Duffy asserted that high gas prices are “intentional” and “are meant to have us make different choices like not have a truck.” [Fox and Friends Saturday, 5/21/22]

  • Host Laura Ingraham: “The greeniacs pulling Biden’s strings want [oil and gas] shut down."

    Fox host Laura Ingraham said Biden is being controlled by “greeniacs” who want to destroy American oil and gas production, and she mocked his “incredible transition” comment. [The Ingraham Angle, 5/23/22]

  • Host Ainsley Earhardt: “He doesn't care because we’re heading in the right direction.”

    After playing a clip of Biden’s “incredible transition” comment, Fox host Ainsley Earhardt asserted that the administration doesn’t care about record gas prices. Fox personality Stuart Varney responded that Biden is “being driven by the climate crowd. The climate crowd wants high gas prices so we drive less, emit less, and we all go into electric cars.” [Fox & Friends, 5/24/22]

  • Host Sean Hannity: “The suffering is intentional? Is that what you're telling us?”

    After Biden’s “incredible transition” comment, Fox host Sean Hannity went on an extended rant accusing the administration of inflicting deliberate suffering on the American people for the purpose of ushering in “a socialist eco-state hellhole, which would not be possible with low energy costs.” [Hannity, 5/23/22]

  • Guest Rep. Byron Donalds: “They want gas prices higher. They want the Green New Deal accomplished.”

    Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) appeared on Sunday Morning Futures and accused the Biden administration of advancing a “crazy agenda when it comes to oil and natural gas and gasoline.” He continued, “Joe Biden and the Democrats want gas prices higher. Let's stop playing games. They want gas prices higher. They want the Green New Deal accomplished.” When he was finished, guest host Sean Duffy added, “Congressman, I think you’re 100% right, and this is absolutely intentional.” [Sunday Morning Futures, 5/29/22]

  • Campos-Duffy: “We have to remember that all of this is intentional. The gas prices and the inflation is intentional.”

    Campos-Duffy claimed that “all of this is intentional. The gas prices and inflation is intentional.” She later reiterated, “And, again, intentional. This government is trying — this government is willing to make you poor in order to accomplish their green energy fetishes, really.” [Fox & Friends, 5/30/22]

  • Guest Monica Crowley: “They want to torpedo the U.S. economy. They want to bring Americans to their knees.”

    Conservative commentator Monica Crowley appeared on Jesse Waters Primetime and claimed that the Biden administration was waging a war on domestic energy, and “if he just turned that policy around literally tomorrow, you would start to see progress in terms of bringing down inflation and gas prices. But he won't do it … and what it tells us, Jesse, is that all of this is deliberate.” After she and host Jesse Watters mocked the idea of climate action to stave off global warming and sea-level rise, she added that Biden’s energy policies were a “lever” to move the economy toward “a more collectivist, Marxist kind of model where they’re in total control.” [Jesse Watters Primetime, 6/2/22]

  • Carlson: “Why is this happening? Well, because Joe Biden made it happen. ”

    During a monologue on record gas prices, Carlson accused Biden of deliberately slowing down domestic energy production. [Tucker Carlson Tonight, 6/3/22]

  • Guest Sen. Tom Cotton: “For Democrats, $5-a-gallon gas … the intended consequence.”

    Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR) appeared on Special Report and accused the Democratic Party of enacting policies to deliberately spike gas prices because of “Green New Deal fantasies.” He continued, “They want gas to be high. Because they want you out of your pickup truck or your minivan and want you to get into electric vehicles or scooters or mass transit or whatever it is that they ride around town in Washington.” [Special Report, 6/6/22]

  • Kilmeade: “So, the question is, is this intentional? … a slow roll of a New Green Deal?”

    During a segment on record gas prices, Fox host Brian Kilmeade questioned whether the Biden administration was intentionally spiking energy prices, before stating, “The president hates fossil fuels, or he at least said that. Is he getting what he wants now as people are feeling repulsed by the price of gas and oil?” [Fox & Friends, 6/7/22]

  • Crowley: “This is like a modern version of Marie Antoinette. … and it is all intentional.”

    Conservative commentator Monica Crowley appeared on Hannity and claimed that the Biden administration was deliberately increasing gas prices. She compared Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), who touted the cost savings of electric vehicles during a hearing, to Marie Antoinette, stating, “Instead of let them eat cake, let them buy a Tesla. And all of this indicates that it is all intentional.” Crowley concluded by reiterating, “So what that tells you is this is all intentional as part of the fundamental transformation of the nation.” [Hannity, 6/7/22]

  • Campos-Duffy: “I definitely believe that these gas prices are directly related to the Green New Deal, and that couldn't be passed legislatively.”

    Campos-Duffy accused the Biden administration of purposefully harming the domestic energy industry because the Green New Deal could not be passed through Congress. She asserted, “They’ve done it through regulation, through, you know, cutting down American energy, making sure we’re not energy independent, making us dependent on dirty oil from Venezuela and so forth. … This is intentional, and that’s what it is about.” [Fox & Friends Saturday, 6/11/22]

  • Anchor Bret Baier: “Is pain at the pump part of that transition to a greener economy?”

    Hosting a debate between Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), anchor Bret Baier referenced Biden’s “incredible transition” comment before asking Sanders if high gas prices are part of a transition to renewable energy. [Special Report, 6/13/22]

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Tucker Carlson on Fox News

Right-Wing Media Using Texas Disaster To Discredit Clean Energy

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters

Extreme winter storms wreaked havoc across the United States over the weekend, causing widespread power outages in Texas. As many people are wondering why the largest energy-producing state in the country is facing widespread power failures amid below-freezing temperatures, Fox News' answer is to blame the state's reliance on wind energy. But while renewable energy sources such as wind are a familiar and convenient scapegoat for Fox -- allowing the network to feed fears about clean energy and the Green New Deal that it has long nurtured -- this narrative is flat wrong.

Fox's Big "Frozen Windmill" Lie

On the February 15 edition of Fox News' Tucker Carlson Tonight, the host not only suggested that the freezing temperatures that hit Texas bring into question the very existence of global warming, but he also claimed that the state's inability to keep the lights on was due to its "reckless reliance on windmills," which he even acknowledged account for only "a quarter of the energy" makeup in Texas (with the majority of power coming from natural gas and coal). To discuss the outages, host Tucker Carlson invited climate denier and frequent Fox guest Marc Morano, who once claimed CO2 is not pollution because we exhale it.

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Fox's morning opinion- and so-called "news"-side shows picked up on Carlson's misleading narrative -- pinning the Texas outages exclusively on wind energy while largely failing to acknowledge that the state is overwhelmingly reliant on fossil fuels.

Coverage of the outages during the February 16 edition of Fox & Friends First ran under the chyron "Texas Power Issues Blamed on Frozen Wind Turbines." Fox & Friends framed discussion of the outages around the question of whether this is "what America would look like under the Green New Deal" and enlisted climate skeptic Bjorn Lomborg to respond. Lomborg, who is part of the Koch network and has long been a proponent of fossil fuels, spewed outdated and false information about the reliability of renewable energy.

Video fileVideo Player00:0004:26SHARE

America's Newsroom anchor Dana Perino similarly framed a discussion of the outages with Fox contributor and Wall Street Journal columnist Bill McGurn around "raising questions about the Lone Star State's increasing reliance on renewable energy." Perino went on to read extensively from the Journal's February 16 editorial, which similarly blamed the outages on green energy and baselessly fearmongered that "the Biden Administration's plan to banish fossil fuels is a greater existential threat to Americans than climate change."

On The Faulkner Focus, anchor Harris Faulkner explicitly tied the outages to President Joe Biden's climate proposal, claiming, "Texas, for example, is shifting toward renewables and being called into question along with the Biden administration's climate plan." Faulkner's segment on the outages also leaned on the misleading and agenda-driven arguments of The Wall Street Journal's editorial board and Tucker Carlson.

Long-standing issues with Texas' energy grid, not frozen wind turbines, are the main culprits behind the state's wave of power outages

In addition to his February 15 segment, Carlson penned an opinion piece for the Fox New website framed around the easily disprovable statement: "The Green New Deal has come, believe it or not, to the state of Texas." Carlson asserted in the piece that the state's power grid failed because "the windmills froze," a claim that has been repeated and amplified by Fox News, The Wall Street Journaland fringe elements of the right-wing media echosphere.

But what really happened in Texas was easily foreseeable by those who follow the state's energy sector and has been discussed at length by local news outlets and public officials, including Republican Gov. Greg Abbott.

The historic, devastating winter storm did freeze wind turbine blades, but as Bloomberg noted, "the region's grid operator made clear that power plants -- across all resources -- had tripped offline. And in fact, data from the grid operator shows generation from wind farms has actually been exceeding the agency's forecasts in recent days." The Washington Post's Energy 202 blog reported that Carlson and the Wall Street Journal editorial board's blaming wind energy for the grid's failure "is misleading," adding: "While Texas's capacity to generate energy from the wind is down with some turbines seized up, most of the power generation offline during the cold spell was supposed to come from traditional thermal plants, Texas's grid operator said Monday."

Local Texas energy experts were even more vociferous in their criticism of the state's grid failure, placing most of the blame on the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT). As an energy fellow at the University of Houston told the Houston Chronicle, the grid "limped along on underinvestment and neglect until it finally broke under predictable circumstances."

This criticism was echoed by David Tuttle, a research associate at University of Texas at Austin's Energy Institute. Tuttle noted that Texas' electric generating plants never winterized, despite recommendations from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and the North American Electric Reliability Corporation that were issued following an investigation of the blackouts that occurred during a devastating ice storm in 2011. By never mandating these winterization recommendations, Texas public officials increased the likelihood of this unfortunate history repeating itself.

Summarizing the problems faced by the power grid in Texas during the winter storm and the way forward in its wake, TechCrunch author Jonathan Shieber wrote:

The current blackouts have nothing to do with renewables and everything to do with cold weather slowing down natural gas production because of freeze-offs and spiking demand for heating at the same time.
As Dr. Emily Grubert, an assistant professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and, by courtesy, of Public Policy at the Georgia Institute of Technology, noted, the problem is more of a total systems issue than one associated with renewable power.
"Let us be absolutely clear: if there are grid failures today, it shows the existing (largely fossil-based) system cannot handle these conditions either," Grubert wrote on Twitter. "These are scary, climate change-affected conditions that pose extreme challenges to the grid. We are likely to continue to see situations like this where our existing system cannot easily handle them. Any electricity system needs to make massive adaptive improvements.

The Inconvenient Truth

The outages in Texas highlight how the changing climate is poised to test our power sector and the assumptions that underpin it -- both in Texas and throughout the rest of the country.

While it's true that human-caused climate change is making extreme cold events less likely overall, it is also increasing average air temperatures and thus the amount of moisture the air can hold, which means prolonged cold can yield even greater snowfall. And as Climate Signals notes, "Climate change is also linked to the destabilization of the jet stream, which can lead to outbreaks of Arctic air."

CBS This Morning's meteorologist and climate specialist Jeff Berardelli explained this relationship between climate change and the Texas storm on the program this morning.

But right-wing media and their political allies would be remiss if they let the truth interfere with their efforts to propagate a lie against green energy and climate policies.

In its coverage of the Texas power outages, Fox is deliberately attempting to steer the conversation away from climate change and the shortcomings of our reliance on fossil fuels -- in this case, it's using a well-worn and bogus script against renewable energy to erode support for the Biden administration's plan to transition to a clean energy economy. These efforts to ignore our climate reality are especially dangerous as science predicts more frequent and devastating aberrant and extreme weather events are yet to come.