At UN, Biden Spoke On Climate For Three Minutes -- And Enraged The Right

At UN, Biden Spoke On Climate For Three Minutes -- And Enraged The Right

Right-wing media are expressing outrage that President Joe Biden mentioned climate change during his September 21 speech at the United Nations General Assembly.

Biden’s nearly-30 minute speech, which focused mainly on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, also included calls for global cooperation on important issues including food insecurity, human rights, and climate change. The climate part of his speech lasted roughly 3 minutes and included celebrating the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act. He also touched on recent climate disasters and the need for global emissions reductions, as well as promising billions of dollars in international climate finance.

Despite the relatively modest amount of time he spent on climate change, many in right-wing media were outraged that he even mentioned climate at all. Their comments included climate denial and falsehoods about the importance of climate change to the global community.

Right-wing media falsely claimed that the global population doesn’t care about climate change

Climate change is a serious concern around the world. For example, a January 2021 survey found that a majority of people around the globe want greater climate action. And a September 2021 Pew poll found that the world’s population increasingly views climate change as a personal threat. In August of this year, another Pew survey found that a “median of 75% across 19 countries in North America, Europe and the Asia-Pacific region label global climate change as a major threat.”

Additionally, people from the global south — those who have contributed the least to the climate crisis but disproportionately suffer its effects — are often some of the loudest voices for climate action. Around the same time that Biden gave his UN speech, indigenous peoples from around the world were protesting in New York for climate justice. The president of Kenya made climate change a key part of his UN speech, and the prime minister of Pakistan, a country that has seen over 30 million displaced due to climate-fueled monsoon flooding, thanked Biden for “highlighting the plight of the flood victims.”

Climate change and poverty, meanwhile, are inextricably linked, as are climate change and global hunger. These facts, however, were still not enough to convince right-wing commentators in the U.S. that climate change is a significant threat to the global population.

For example, on the September 22 edition of Newsmax’s Wake Up America, host Rob Finnerty stated that “there's 193 sovereign nations in that room right there. … And nobody cared about that part of the speech. They needed a lot more from the American president, with everything going on in the world right now, and they get climate change.”

On Fox News’ Fox & Friends, co-host Steve Doocy insinuated that people living in poverty don’t care about climate change, stating, “Suddenly he’s talking about climate change. And, you know, there are 675 million people living in poverty around the world. And for the president of the United States to be talking about climate change rather than trying to figure out a way to feed them.”

Doocy also entirely missed the fact that Biden did discuss food in his speech; he mentioned the term “food insecurity” 6 times, while also mentioning “feeding the world.”

The editorial board of the right-wing New York Postalso claimed that the world's poor don’t care about climate change. They referred to climate change as part of a “laundry list of left-liberal shout-outs,” before writing that the speech focused “on climate change, which Biden claimed lists first among the ‘challenges that matter most to people’s lives.’ The planet’s 674 million people living in abject poverty don’t agree, Joe.”

Right-wing media also dipped into one of their favorite overused talking points when it comes to climate change: U.S. action is worthless because China is the biggest polluter

There were also criticisms claiming China does not care about climate change. Fox & Friends co-host Brian Kilmeade remarked about Biden’s climate comments that “climate change is unbelievable. The fact is that China could not care less.” On Wake Up America, The Daily Caller’s Briana Lyman took this China criticism a step further, stating that if “you want to talk about climate change, then you need to talk about China because China is responsible for more than double the emissions of the United States. … I think it's a dereliction of duty when he doesn't tie China and climate change together.”

Kilmeade’s comments ignore the fact that China is by far the largest market for clean energy in the world, and that its pledge to become carbon neutral by 2060 came about a year before the U.S. passed major climate legislation. Yes, its coal plants (and emissions) are a huge problem, but to say that the country doesn’t care about climate change (especially when an unprecedented heat wave just hit the country) is absurd.

Regarding Lyman’s comments, Biden did mention that the United States “will work with every nation, including our competitors, to solve global problems like climate change.” Immediately after this, he referenced China and said the U.S. will not seek out conflict with them.

Lyman also touched on a longtime right-wing trope about climate change: that countries like China are the problem because they currently emit the most carbon, and because of this, it’s foolish to think that the U.S. should act on climate change. But the United States is the largest historical emitter; per capita emissions in the U.S. vastly outweigh those of China; and many of our products are manufactured in China.

Solely blaming China while absolving the U.S. for its own pollution problems and its outsized role in spreading climate denial does nothing for solving climate change in the long run.

Right-wing media also exaggerated the time Biden spent talking about climate change, and they threw in some good-old-fashioned climate denial

Three minutes out of 30 is arguably not enough time to devote to a problem that has led to a summer of destructive extreme weather across the globe. But it was still enough to annoy right-wing media figures.

Again on Wake Up America, host Rob Finnerty stated that “the president spent a lot of time talking about climate change during his speech. … This, of course, coming at a crucially important time. We’re seven months into the worst war in Europe that we've seen since World War II, and the president took the opportunity to campaign for Democrats and talk about climate change.” On the September 21 edition of Kudlow, guest Steve Moore falsely claimed that “he spent half the time talking about climate change.”

Perhaps the worst reaction came from Newsmax host Eric Bolling, who went on a climate denial rant on the September 21 edition of Eric Bolling The Balance. He called climate change “another made-up crisis lurking just around the corner,” adding, “Never let a good crisis go to waste.” He then blamed Al Gore for supposedly inaccurate predictions about climate change and chastised former President Barack Obama for buying a house near the sea despite being concerned about rising sea levels.

The right-wing blow-up over Biden’s climate comments is not surprising. To these figures and outlets, any action on climate, big or small, is akin to a radical socialist takeover of the U.S. economy. In particular, the right has increased its climate denial and criticism of climate policies in recent months. As climate change worsens and global citizens come together to clamor for climate action, right-wing media will continue to double down on denial and lies to protect their polluting interests.

Reprinted with permission from Media Matters.

Stupid Things Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change In 2021

Stupid Things Right-Wing Media Said About Climate Change In 2021

1. The Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro doesn’t think that 4 degrees Celsius of warming is an emergency

On the April 14 edition of The Daily Wire’s The Ben Shapiro Show, host Ben Shapiro stated that “I do not consider it a quote-unquote ‘emergency’ if the climate were to warm 4 degrees Celsius over the course of the next century. … It’s just a way for them to create a certain level of alarmism that is unjustifiable by the facts on the ground."

It’s a good thing that Shapiro, whose publication is backed by fracking billionaires, has no authority or credibility within the climate science community: 4 C of warming would be literally catastrophic for large swaths of the globe. As The Guardian reported in 2019, at 4 C of climate change, we’d have sea levels that would be around 2 meters higher than today (which would render many coastal areas obsolete), destruction of the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets, oceanic dead zones, temperatures in the equatorial belt so high that would make for impossible living conditions for most of the year, and the beginning of a potential mass extinction for many species. This is not the first time that Shapiro has said something ignorant about the climate crisis; he once theorized that people affected by rising sea levels could just sell their inundated homes and move.

2. Fox’s Dagen McDowell thinks that cold temperatures in certain parts of the U.S. entirely disprove global warming

Fox News personalities regularly conflate climate with weather, and they generally do it to dismiss global warming. On the April 21 edition of The Five, co-host Dagen McDowell mockingly suggested that “they stopped calling it global warming” because of abnormally cold U.S. temperatures.

In reality, our warming climate has not eradicated cold weather, and in some cases, it has even made cold weather more severe and unpredictable. Nor have abnormally cold temperatures caused a dent in the Earth’s alarming warming trend, in which the past decade was the warmest on record.

3. Ex-coal lobbyist Steve Milloy lies about warming temperatures on One America News: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average”

On the August 2 edition of OAN’s The Tipping Point, former coal lobbyist and Fox News contributor Steve Milloy stated: “The June 2021 temperature was actually below the 40-year average. … There’s just so much bad information going on around, and you know, you’ve just got to be careful with climate alarmists.”

In reality, the U.S. suffered through its hottest June on record, while it was the fifth-warmest June on record globally (followed by the hottest July ever recorded in earth’s history). Milloy is a longstanding figure in the climate denial community, and viewers have really “got to be careful” with his objectively false information.

4. Fox's Laura Ingraham suggests that climate change is really “about controlling the people” and fearmongers that climate action will lead to pandemic-style lockdowns

On both the May 18 and 19 editions of Fox News’ The Ingraham Angle, host Laura Ingraham theorized that Democrats will use climate change to control Americans’ lives through pandemic-style lockdowns.

This is a dangerous conspiracy theory being pushed by prominent climate deniers that has taken hold among far-right media figures. To be clear, the way to fight climate change is not via lockdowns (COVID-19 lockdowns “only marginally reduced greenhouse gas emissions”), but by bringing about systemic change in our energy system and reimagining our economy and the way we live.

5. Newsmax’s Chris Salcedo doesn’t believe in “proof” that CO2 emissions are contributing to climate change

There were multiple times this year when Newsmax host Chris Salcedo went on a perplexing rant claiming there’s somehow no proof that rising CO2 emissions affect temperatures in any meaningful way. On the August 18 edition of The Chris Salcedo Show, Salcedo called global warming a “religion” that “has not been proven through science” before going on to say, “There's no mathematical proof out there that states that X amount of man-made CO2 yields Y amount of temperature change.”

Then on the December 14 edition of his show, Salcedo stated: “From experts I have read and interviewed over the years, I can say that there is no proof that man's C02 emissions are destroying the planet.” Salcedo must be interviewing some pretty fringe climate deniers as “experts,” as there is effectively unanimous scientific consensus that “humans are changing Earth's climate, primarily through greenhouse gas emissions.”

6. Fox’s Tucker Carlson rants that climate change is somehow a conspiracy to shrink your children

While Tucker Carlson is no stranger to promoting weird conspiracy theories about climate change, one of his segments from June went completely overboard. On the June 22 edition of Tucker Carlson Tonight, the Fox prime-time host accused climate scientists of wanting to use “human engineering” to “make human children smaller than they are now” and thereby reduce their lifetime greenhouse gas emissions: “All we need to do is experiment on human children and we can solve climate change.”

Tucker Human Engineering

Carlson’s claim was based on a speech given by a bioethicist nearly five years ago. As Gizmodo reported, “The ideas are bad, but they’re utterly fringe. Activists are clamoring for transforming society, not individual humans. You’d never know that from watching the segment, though.” But taking a fringe remark out of context and repurposing it to claim that the government will take over our lives seems pretty on-brand for Fox News.

7. Dennis Prager thinks the simple solution to a warming climate is to just use more air conditioning

Conservative commentator Dennis Prager, who leads a nonprofit online “university” that promotes climate denial, among other conservative talking points, offered his own absurd “solution” to climate change during a talk on September 22: “Did you know that there is a solution to a warm climate? It's called air conditioning. It's very effective.”

Prager’s comments follow a concerning new form of climate denial in right-wing media: acknowledging the climate is changing but claiming there’s nothing we can do to prevent it -- we must learn to live with it instead. In Prager’s case, he suggests that well-off people can just adapt to the warming climate by using air conditioning when it gets hot (which would only increase emissions even further), while those without access to air conditioning will suffer.

8. On Fox News’ The Five, Greg Gutfeld claims that the data to prove climate change is “never there”

On the September 2 edition of Fox News’ The Five, co-host Greg Gutfeld criticized those who connect climate change to extreme weather events -- specifically to the destructive Hurricane Ida. He stated that the data is “never there,” and that “the severity” of such storms “has been on the decline

For one, science has shown that climate change is affecting hurricanes in a number of ways as storms are dumping more rain, moving slower, and rapidly intensifying -- all hallmarks of Hurricane Ida. Secondly, the data is indeed “there,” as climate models have been correct over the past 50 years. Additionally, Gutfeld talks about “severity” only in terms of decreasing deaths from natural disasters. However, focusing on this statistic obscures the many other reasons that climate change is a serious and deadly threat. As one scientist puts it, “climate change kills, from poor nutrition status and poor health linked to episodes of drought and harvest failures, the spread of infectious diseases, … increasing violent conflict, … and of course the impact of extreme events like tropical cyclones and flash floods.”

9. On Newsmax, Republican commentator Ford O’Connell claims that “climate change is the ultimate Trojan horse for socialism” before stating that the Earth “may or not be warming”

Newsmax had a wild year of promoting climate denial, and right-wing pundit Ford O’Connell’s claim that the Earth “may or may not be warming” on the October 25 edition of American Agenda

Citation From the October 25, 2021, edition of Newsmax's American Agenda

The context behind this segment is noteworthy -- Newsmax was attacking its much larger rival Fox News for “going woke” and “making a permanent hard-left turn” by suggesting that the newly launched Fox Weather streaming service is taking climate change too seriously. In actuality, Fox Weather is just ignoring the issue altogether, but it’s funny to see Newsmax melt down over the fact that Fox is apparently not right-wing enough.

10. On Fox Business, Patricia Lee Onwuka of the Independent Women’s Forum claims that climate change is a “fallacy”

Discussing President Biden’s response to Hurricane Ida on the September 3 edition of Fox Business' Mornings With Maria, right-wing commentator Patricia Lee Onwuka suggested that climate change is a “fallacy” that Biden is using to advance his agenda; she also said that “the facts dispute” the idea that extreme weather events like hurricanes are connected to climate chan

Article reprinted with permission from Media Matters

The Most Idiotic Media Coverage Of Climate Change In 2019

The Most Idiotic Media Coverage Of Climate Change In 2019

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters

1. Fox commentator David Webb said peer-reviewed climate studies are done by eco-terrorists and claimed that a pollution inequity study is just “gobbledygook.”

On the March 13 episode of Fox & Friends, Fox Nation host David Webb addressed a study about racial inequality in air pollution, which found that “pollution is disproportionately caused by whites, but disproportionately inhaled by black and Hispanic minorities.” Rather than actually acknowledging this very real and serious issue of environmental racism, Webb just called the study “gobbledygook.” He said peer-reviewed studies like this one are often done by “eco-terrorists,” which is quite the claim to make against one of the world’s most well-respected and well-cited scientific journals. He also tried to deflect from the U.S. pollution problem by claiming that there is also bad pollution in Africa. This was not the first time that Webb, who has no scientific background, has made an outlandish statement about climate change.

2. Fox guest Patrick Moore says that “the climate crisis is not only fake news, it’s fake science.”

On the March 12 episode of Fox & Friendsclimate denier and all-around abominable human being Patrick Moore launched into a tirade about the Green New Deal and climate change. He said climate change is “not only fake news, it’s fake science.” He called it “not dangerous” and “not made by people,” while extolling the virtues of carbon dioxide. Moore, a consultant who often falsely bills himself as Greenpeace’s co-founder, has previously raked in money from polluting industries. Moore launched into the same boring tirade against climate change on the March 14 episode of Fox News @ Night, again claiming that climate change is “not just fake news, it’s fake science” and that there is “no hard evidence that CO2 is causing the climate change.”

Moore is a member of the Koch-backed CO2 Coalition, which claims that rising carbon dioxide levels are actually good for the planet (spoiler alert: they are not). Luckily for us, after a slate of Fox News appearances in mid-March, Moore has not appeared on the network since.

3. The New York Times’ Bret Stephens downplayed climate change, comparing policies addressing the crisis to insuring oneself against a “potential” fire.

On the March 26 episode of MTP Daily, New York Times op-ed columnist Bret Stephens downplayed climate change by comparing policies fighting the issue to a family bankrupting itself by buying unnecessary fire insurance. Stephens stated that climate policy is “like a question of there could be a fire in your house,” and that “we have to take out fire insurance. … What you can’t say is we’re going to bankrupt ourselves in the process of insuring ourselves against the potential risk.”

What Stephens doesn’t seem to understand here is that our house is already on fire. There’s no “risk” of climate change getting worse — science tells us that it is here now, and that it will continue to get worse unless we rapidly reduce our carbon emissions. Additionally, the damages of climate change will cost much, much more than the policies will cost to fight it, both in human lives and financial loss. So Stephens’ attempt to use a clever metaphor falls flat — but what can we expect from someone who has previously had laughably bad takes on climate change?

4. Fox commentators Diamond & Silk inexplicably link climate change to the speed of Earth’s rotation.

On the April 5 episode of Fox & Friends, Fox Nation personalities Diamond & Silk tried to link climate change to the speed of Earth’s rotation. Referring to the Green New Deal as “a green new scam,” they implored Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) to “talk to Mother Nature” about climate change, before adding, “Because with the Earth rotating at 1,000 miles per hour, OK, 365 days of the year, we subject to feel climate changing a little bit.”

Climate change, which has absolutely everything to do with humans burning carbon dioxide and nothing to do with the speed of Earth’s orbit, might actually be causing Earth to wobble on its axis. Maybe Diamond and Silk meant to say this, but we don’t think that’s quite what they were going for with this head-scratching take.

5. Longtime Fox guest and industry shill Marc Morano claims that carbon dioxide can’t be pollution because “we exhale carbon dioxide.”

Marc Morano has been at the forefront of climate denial for over a decade. Every year, he goes on Fox News to downplay or outright deny climate change, saying completely absurd things that must make his industry backers very happy. On April 30, he went on Fox & Friends to talk about former Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke’s climate change plan. Morano stated that “carbon dioxide, humans — we inhale oxygen, we exhale carbon dioxide, so he’s calling CO2 pollution, which it’s not.” While it’s true that we do breathe carbon dioxide, it is indeed a pollutant and can be extremely harmful for humans. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has it listed as a dangerous pollutant.

This is not the first time (and probably not the last) that Morano has extolled the virtues of carbon dioxide pollution. Appearing on Varney & Co. in December 2018, Morano said that carbon dioxide is actually a positive for global warming. This schtick of Morano’s is both tired and dangerous, and the sooner he disappears from any conversation about climate change, the better.

6. Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro says the real climate change deniers are the ones trying to solve it.

On the August 1 episode of The Ben Shapiro ShowThe Daily Wire’s Ben Shapiro claimed that people like him are branded as climate deniers for both recognizing that the problem exists and arguing that there are some problems with collective action to address it. He then said that the “true deniers” are those who recognize we need to take action right now, for they are “denying the reality of the situation on the ground.” This is a magnificent spin on the climate change issue. The “reality of the situation on the ground” is simple — there is a clear need for collective action to rapidly decarbonize our economy to fight climate change, but those actions are being thwarted by fossil fuel companies (like the ones that fund Shapiro’s Daily Wire) and right-wingers of Shapiro’s ilk. Shapiro also brings up the rising emissions of China and India. While climate advocates recognize that this is a serious issue, the China and India argument is used by right-wingers to downplay the need for the U.S. to take action on climate change. Shapiro does not have a good history of talking about climate change, so his comments here are no surprise.

7. Daily Wire’s Michael Knowles claims that it’s “pagan” to be concerned over climate change.

Not to be outdone by his colleague Ben Shapiro, Michael Knowles offered up his own ludicrous climate change take. On September 5, he talked about climate change and the “secular left,” saying that “the way they’re talking about it is not modern, and it’s not scientific. This is ancient, this is primitive, this goes back to our most pagan roots.” He also states that “in the modern secular view, we can save ourselves … and the way we do it is not even by moral improvement or by living out the virtues, it’s by recycling, it’s by not fracking, it’s by killing our babies.”

Knowles really likes to deny climate change by comparing it to religion, and he keeps trying to find more colorful ways to do so. The way advocates talk about climate change is actually quite scientific, and there have been decades of research on the issue as well as near-unanimous consent on its occurrence.

8. Fox guest Charlie Kirk thinks climate change can’t be a problem because the Obamas bought a beach house.

One of the stupidest tropes to come out of the right-wing media echo chamber about climate change this year had to do with the Obamas buying a house on Martha’s Vineyard. The Obamas bought a beach house, rising sea levels might affect that house, and therefore, climate change must be a hoax, or it can’t really be that big of a deal. That argument was unironically offered by a number of right-wing figures and outlets. One of these figures was Charlie Kirk, a frequent Fox guest and co-founder of the unabashedly racist Turning Point USA. Kirk tweeted this argument at least three times this year, all with a thinking-face emoji. In the last one, he downplayed the idea that climate change can even be considered an existential threat.

To suggest that a beach house purchase overturns decades of scientific consensus on climate change should probably disqualify someone from being taken seriously, but nope, Kirk is still trotted out on Fox News to give his opinion.

9. Fox commentator Dan Bongino called global warming an “existential threat” to “the truth” and said it’s another liberal hoax.

On October 21, former Secret Service agent, failed congressional candidate, and current Fox News contributor Dan Bongino tweeted that “global warming is an existential threat to the the truth” while calling it “another hoax.” This is not the first time that Bongino has said something ridiculous about climate change — in August he said the crisis is “made up,” and he tweeted that it was a hoax in September.

10. Conservative author Dinesh D’Souza claimed that a “generation from now, no one will recall climate change.”

Dinesh D’Souza, perhaps one of the most vile individuals still appearing on Fox News, tweeted out this comment on November 9. What is really true is that the next generation will grow up in a time of deadlier extreme weather and social and economic conditions made worse by climate change. But we hope that generation at least will not recall who Dinesh D’Souza is.

11. While hosting a climate denier on his show, Tucker Carlson complained of “relentless propaganda” about climate change.

On his March 20 Fox News show, Tucker Carlson hosted climate denier meteorologist Joe Bastardi to discuss climate change polling. Tucker complained of “relentless propaganda” regarding climate change, and said it’s  “clearly political, not science.” Along with the irony of calling climate change propaganda while hosting one of the biggest climate change deniers around, Carlson made a few curious claims. He said that only 2% of people “are most concerned about climate change.” He’s extremely off base here — recent polling suggests that 57% of citizens believe that “global climate change [is] a major threat to the well-being of the United States.”

Carlson also took the opportunity to launch a bigoted, xenophobic attack on immigrants, baselessly claiming that “more people were killed last year in the United States by illegal aliens than were killed by climate change.” This is an absurd and wholly unsupported statement — there are no known numbers of deaths for either issue, but what we do know is that studies suggest undocumented immigrants actually commit fewer violent crimes than native-born citizens. We also know that climate change is amplifying extreme weather events, including heat waves, wildfires, and hurricanes. Tucker’s need to mention undocumented immigrants in climate change segments speaks to a worrying trend of eco-fascism that he is clearly fond of.

12. Infowars host Alex Jones denied climate change and insisted that Hurricane Dorian was manipulated by geoengineering.

During a segment about Hurricane Dorian, Alex Jones pushed a weather control conspiracy theory, questioning why the media are quick to blame climate change for hurricanes and saying, “We’re having some extreme weather, and yes, a lot of it is being manipulated.” He accused “global warming advocates” of telling us all that “hurricanes are all our fault.” He also lamented those he said are silencing him, saying, “George Soros and the Democratic Party have come out and they want it outlawed for citizens to talk about the weather modification.”

It goes without saying that humans cannot control hurricanes, although this doesn’t stop conspiracy theorists like Jones from saying that we can. Human activity can affect hurricanes, though, and we already know how: climate change, which can impact things like hurricane intensity and rainfall. Jones’ segment came shortly after President Donald Trump suggested nuking hurricanes to stop them from hitting the U.S., so it’s possible Jones was defending the president.

13. Rush Limbaugh complained that people pushing for climate action “are ruining people’s lives.”

Radio host Rush Limbaugh ran through a number of climate denier statements on the August 1 episode of Hannity. He said that “there is no man-made climate change” and that those actually trying to solve the climate problem are “ruining people’s lives.” Limbaugh has been at the forefront of climate denial for years and often says really ridiculous things about the issue. And of course, contrary to what Rush says, climate change is going to really, really screw with our lives.

14. Former Environmental Protection Agency official and Fox guest Mandy Gunasekara claimed that climate change is just something used to distract people from Trump’s accomplishments.

On July 10, Mandy Gunasekara, former EPA official and co-founder of a pro-Trump energy PAC, spouted climate denial on Fox News’ America’s Newsroom. She called climate change “not an existential threat” while also claiming that it is something being used to distract people from Trump’s accomplishments. Gunasekara has repeatedly denied climate change in numerous right-wing media appearances this year, and she is a huge cheerleader for the Trump agenda. That’s no surprise, given her background with climate denier Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK), her connection to climate denial groups, and her favoritism towards fossil fuel producers. We’re also not quite sure which Trump accomplishments she is referring to when she says climate change is a distraction, but perhaps it’s his devastating environmental rollbacks, his pro-polluter agenda, or his completely nihilistic attitude toward the overall crisis.

15. Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth said, “Global climate change is all about control.”

On the August 8 episode of Varney & Co.Fox & Friends co-host Pete Hegseth threw a few climate denier arguments against the wall to see which one would stick. Speaking on the topic of the recent release of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s land and climate report, Hegseth stated that “global climate change is all about control” and that “there’s been ways in which they’ve cooked the books.” He repeated a few of these same denier arguments on the August 13 episode of Fox & Friends. Additionally, accusing scientists of “cooking the books” is really ridiculous, as climate models have been extremely accurate over the past several decades. Fox News has distorted the climate change debate with its misinformation over the years — instead of actually having a nuanced discussion about the IPCC climate report’s findings, it’s much easier for them to trot out the same tired arguments against taking action.

In Wildfire Coverage, Network TV Ignores Climate Change

In Wildfire Coverage, Network TV Ignores Climate Change

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.


This month’s catastrophic California wildfires garnered significant media coverage, with major national news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC airing more than 100 segments about the unfolding disasters. But Media Matters found that just 3.7 percent of those segments mentioned the link between climate change and worsening wildfires. That’s a minuscule improvement over their coverage of Western wildfires this summer, when the networks incorporated climate change into less than 2 percent of their segments.

On the local level, TV news programs on California stations included discussion of climate change in numerous segments about the ongoing wildfires. News shows on major TV network affiliates in the state’s three largest media markets aired 44 episodes that addressed how climate change exacerbates wildfires.

Climate change is a critical factor contributing to the growing severity of wildfires in the United States, according to researchers. Scientists have documented an increase in both the number of large fires and the total area burned per year in the U.S. Fifteen of the 20 largest wildfires in California’s history have occurred since 2000, as rising temperatures in the West have lengthened wildfire season by several months. Jonathan Overpeck, a climate scientist and dean of the University of Michigan’s environmental school, told The Associated Press that the increasing severity of fires is “much less due to bad management and is instead the result of our baking of our forests, woodlands and grasslands with ever-worsening climate change.”

NBC mentioned climate change in just two segments, while ABC and CBS each made only one mention

The three national broadcast TV networks — ABC, CBS, and NBC — aired 107 segments about the California wildfires on their major morning and evening news programs from November 8 to 13. Only four of these, or 3.7 percent, included discussion of climate change. NBC aired two of the segments that mentioned climate change, while ABC and CBS aired one each.

Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Both of NBC’s climate change mentions came from weather anchor Al Roker on the November 12 episode of Today. During the show’s 7 a.m. hour, Roker discussed the factors that have made the fires so bad: “July was the hottest month ever recorded in California. That hot weather dries out the vegetation. They’ve had no rain to speak of really in the last three months. Parched conditions. And this is all due to climate change.” He noted that the annual number of large fires in the state has more than tripled since 1970, and that there have been six times as many acres burned per year on average since then. He made many of the same points in a later segment during the same episode. Here’s the first segment:

CBS’ climate change mention came on the November 11 episode of CBS This Morning, during a segment by WCBS New York weather anchor Lonnie Quinn. He said researchers believe that “both forest management and the changing climate play a role” in worsening wildfires. “California’s temperatures have increased 2 to even 3 degrees over the last century,” he explained. “Making matters worse, there was a five-year drought from 2011 to 2016. That drought killed more than 129 million trees. That’s just fuel for the current fires that are out there.”

ABC’s coverage was the weakest, seeming to downplay the effect of climate change on the wildfires. On the November 10 episode of ABC’s Good Morning Americaanchor Eva Pilgrim said to ABC senior meteorologist Rob Marciano, “It seems like these fires are getting worse and worse every year. Is this climate change? What’s the deal with all this?” Marciano responded, “This summer we saw excessive heat waves and drought in some cases, you can link a little bit of that to climate change. But this is a Santa Ana season, so this is not unusual to get winds blowing flames like this, and this is a dry season as well.”

Even this fleeting mention of climate change is a slight improvement for ABC, which rarely brings up climate change at all in its coverage of extreme weather. During this past summer’s dramatic wildfire season, ABC’s coverage didn’t mention climate change a single time, and the network made no mention of climate change earlier this year in its coverage of both a deadly heat wave and Hurricane Florence.

CBS and NBC also did poorly when it came to incorporating climate change into their reporting on this summer’s wildfires in the Western U.S., even though they didn’t completely strike out like ABC. From June 21 to September 21, the main morning and evening news programs on ABC, CBS, and NBC aired a combined 471 segments discussing the wildfires, and only nine of them, or 1.9 percent, mentioned climate change — six on CBS and three on NBC.

California local news shows mentioned climate change numerous times in their wildfire coverage

Media Matters also analyzed news coverage of the wildfires on local affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in the three largest California media markets: Los Angeles, San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland, and Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto. From November 8 to 13, we found 44 news show episodes that mentioned climate change in relation to the wildfires — 16 in Los Angeles, and 14 each in the Sacramento and San Francisco areas. Over half of these episodes featured a clip of California Gov. Jerry Brown blaming climate change for the destructiveness of the wildfires during a November 11 press conference.

One example of such coverage came from Los Angeles’ KTTV Fox 11 noon news program on November 12. The segment was wholly focused on Brown’s comments about climate change and wildfires:

A more muddled example aired on Sacramento’s KXTV ABC 10 Morning Blend show. The segment discussed a tweet from President Donald Trump that blamed the fires on poor forest management. The hosts noted Brown’s comments about climate change, then invited viewers to take a poll and vote for either forest management or climate change as the bigger contributor to the fires. Most of the poll takers selected forest management:

Both of these segments would have been better if they had informed viewers of what scientists and other experts actually say: Climate change is a significant contributor, and, in the case of the current fires, forest management is not.

Still, it’s notable that many local news stations made a point of discussing climate change in the context of the fires. Local stations have a greater responsibility than national ones to report on the immediate dangers that wildfires pose to their community members, including evacuation orders and specific details about how fires spread. And yet this month in California, many local programs still found time to report on how climate change worsens wildfires. There’s no excuse for national networks not to do the same.


Media Matters searched Nexis and iQ Media for broadcast network TV news segments that covered wildfires using the search terms wildfire(s), forest fire(s), or fire(s), and then we searched within those segments for mentions of climate change or global warming. Our analysis covered morning news shows (ABC’s Good Morning AmericaCBS This Morning, and NBC’s Today) and nightly news shows (ABC World News TonightCBS Evening News, and NBC Nightly News) from November 8-13. For local California coverage, we searched IQ Media for news shows between 4 a.m. and midnight on affiliates of ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox in the media markets of Los Angeles, San Francisco-San Jose-Oakland, and Sacramento-Stockton-Modesto.

Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Top US Newspapers Downplay Landmark Climate Report

Top US Newspapers Downplay Landmark Climate Report

Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters.

A United Nations scientific panel released a major new climate change report on the night of October 7, warning of dire consequences if world governments don’t take unprecedented and dramatic steps in the next decade to rein in greenhouse gas emissions. The next morning, the majority of top U.S. newspapers failed to mention the report on their homepages.

IPCC report warns that fast, sweeping action is necessary to fight climate change

At 9 p.m. EDT on October 7, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released its long-awaited special report about what will happen if the average global temperature rises more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, and what would be required to prevent such a rise. The average temperature has already risen 1 degree C worldwide, and we will see dramatic and deadly impacts if it rises 2 degrees or more, which is now considered extremely likely. The IPCC report was requested by world leaders as part of the 2015 Paris climate agreement. The report emphasizes the need for unprecedented action in the coming years to prevent the worst effects of climate change, and warns of the dire impacts if humanity fails to take that action.

The majority of top U.S. newspapers neglected to cover the IPCC report on their homepages

Between 9 a.m. and noon EDT on October 8, Media Matters analyzed the homepages of the top 50 U.S. newspapers as ranked by average Sunday circulation. Twenty-eight of the papers did not mention the report on their homepages at all:

Of the above newspapers, 10 serve cities that are listed among the “25 U.S. Cities Most Affected by Climate Change in a 2015 report: Baltimore, Buffalo, Columbus, Denver, Louisville, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland, and St. Paul.

Other major newspapers in cities heavily affected by climate change also failed to highlight the IPCC report. The Las Vegas Review-Journal, the largest newspaper in Nevada, did not note the report on its homepage. Las Vegas is ranked third in the list. The Miami Herald also did not mention the IPCC report on its homepage, though it did link to an article about how the risk of sea-level rise threatens real estate prices. Miami will be particularly affected by sea-level rise; a study published last year in the journal Nature concluded that rising seas as a result of climate change could cause more than 2.5 million Miami residents to flee the city.

Only 22 of the top 50 U.S. newspapers mentioned the IPCC report on their homepages

These are the papers that linked from their homepages to articles about the IPCC report:

A few of the newspapers featured the IPCC report prominently on their homepages, including The New York TimesThe Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Minneapolis Star Tribune, but most of homepage mentions of the report were just headlines. Here’s how the Star Tribune featured the report:

Methodology: Media Matters searched for the terms “climate change,” “global warming,” “IPCC,” “report,” and “scientist” on the homepages of the top 50 highest-circulation U.S. newspapers between 9 a.m. and 12 p.m. EST on October 8. The list of newspapers was taken from the recent Pew Research Center report State of the News Media.


Header image by Melissa Joskow / Media Matters