Countering the mainstream

Fox News Forecasts disinformation with new Weather Channel

by | Jul 13, 2021 | The Edge, Commentary, News

Amid record heat waves, early hurricanes, and wildlife die-offs that look like mass extinction events, Rupert Murdoch has decided to double down on the ‘climate change isn’t real’ stance in the worst possible way: launching a full-time weather channel called Fox Weather. That’s right, blatant climate denialism, fossil fuel propaganda, and conspiracy theories about scientists wanting to shrink children will soon be broadcasting across America 24/7.

It’s safe to say that Fox News has never been a beacon of truthful climate reporting. Fox has ranged from simply casting doubt as to humans’ impact on the global climate to flat-out denying the existence of climate change altogether.

According to a 2019 analysis by Public Citizen, 86% of all climate-related segments aired on Fox were climate denial claims. If you regularly watch Fox News then you know climate change is bad, but not the way scientists say it is: it’s about “controlling people”, infringing on the American way of life, destroying the economy, and “exploiting children” to push a liberal agenda. Climate change is that thing that annoying “mentally ill” girl from Europe won’t stop protesting about; it’s a hoax, a conspiracy theory – as fake as systemic racism.

Fox News commentators like Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, and Laura Ingraham are notorious for their blatant climate-denialism and disseminating of conspiracy theories. Laura Ingraham has referred to climate change as a “lie” and in 2019 claimed that “liberals want to use this global crisis to perpetuate a massive confiscation of wealth.” In a 2019 segment Sean Hannity equated supporting climate reform to giving “up your liberty and your freedom and a lot of your tax money.”

Tucker Carlson has equally bad views on climate change, but at least he is entertaining. In a segment on June 22, the notoriously tactless commentator pulled a clip of Matthew Liao, a bioethicist at New York University, speaking at the 2016 World Science Festival with the intention that this fringe scientist would appear representative of all climate activists. Carlson – mind you, has the most watched show on cable – proceeded to go on a 12-minute rant about how climate activists want to create “a race of dwarfs” to curb carbon emissions and how “experiment[ing] on human children” is the key to solving climate change. During last year’s west-coast wildfires, while demonstrating his ignorance as to how climate change could result in such deadly wildfires – “How did climate change do that?” is the exact quote – Carlson claimed that Democrats sought to blame climate change on the American middle class.

Even more damaging, Fox News also acted the prime mouthpiece for Donald Trump during his presidency. Trump’s history of climate denialism is long, but he is perhaps best known for constantly referring to climate change as a Chinese hoax and pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Climate Agreement.

While Fox launching a weather channel may seem like a conservative news network’s desperate last attempt to push its narrative on a country becoming increasingly aware of the effects of climate change, Fox seems to know what it’s doing. Fox is already poaching meteorologists from major markets around the country. With the increase in notable natural disasters, Americans are hungrier than usual for weather reporting. According to The New York Times, viewership for The Weather Channel was up 7 percent in the first half of 2021. Given that Fox has a frighteningly large viewership, this weather channel would be more than just another conservative voice spewing its conspiracies and climate denialism into the endless void of the internet, rather an extremely poisonous presence in the minds of a large percentage of Americans. The last thing this country needs is a major news network spewing climate denialism to its already heavily manipulated base.

Considering Fox’s track record, it can only be assumed that this new weather channel will adopt a similar tone in regard to the climate crisis. Fox Weather will most likely omit the context while reporting on  weather patterns and disasters. Tucker Carlson going on a rant about scientists wanting to shrink children to prevent climate change is objectively hilarious, but a news channel that will likely be specifically to encourage climate denialism is the farthest thing from funny.


Graphic via Media Matters / Melissa Joskow

More from The Edge

The Health Effects of the Gig Economy

On July 20, 2021, World’s Richest Man and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos launched himself into space for an 11-minute self-funded joy ride. Americans, and humans in general, tend to be awestruck and filled with joyous wonder about space travel and its promise of discovery,...

Pegasus and the Global Threat to Dissent

When one hears of the word “Pegasus” it is more likely that a mythical winged horse comes to mind than the most pernicious spyware ever devised. Pegasus software is the primary product sold to government clients by the Israeli cybersecurity company NSO Group. Although...

Why Media Is Complicit in the Ongoing Opioid Crisis

The United States has set a new, grim record: Throughout 2020, the scourge of opioid addiction raged alongside Covid-19, taking 93,000 lives – the largest one-year increase ever recorded. Drug overdose deaths have been steadily increasing in the U.S. for decades,...

How Media Is Distorting “Critical Race Theory” to Spur Outrage

Right-wing panic over “critical race theory” has come to a head in news media and politics over the past few months, as conservative organizations use the once-obscure term to generate outrage and score political victories. Critical race theory is a decades-old...

On White Grief and Reparations

This is a meditation. It has been unevenly in process for most of my life. I cannot remember a time that I was not working at becoming an anti-racist feminist. It is a long process with no clear trajectory, much like the political and historical story of this nation...

Raza Rumi and Sonali Samarasinghe on Survival and Journalism

On a recent episode of the WCIB news podcast “Asian in Ithaca: Stories of Race, Culture & Identity,” PCIM Director Raza Rumi told his story of working in, and being forced to flee, Pakistan. Sonali Samarasinghe, a journalist, human rights lawyer, and diplomat,...

Media’s Vaccine Misinformation Problem

The extremely contagious Delta variant of the coronavirus has been spreading across the globe as vaccination rates lag. The U.S. is no exception. Reports from different parts of the country indicate that even fully vaccinated citizens have been susceptible to the...

Exxon Lobbyists “Look out for Shareholders” as Planet Burns

Just days before an undersea gas pipeline burst in the Gulf of Mexico resulting in a fiery vortex that was all too symbolic of the current climate emergency, it was made public that a senior ExxonMobil lobbyist unwittingly revealed how the oil company uses its...

Why Antitrust Bills Are Taking on Big Tech

Four tech giants have been consolidating wealth and media control over the past several years, and especially during the pandemic. Amazon, Facebook, Apple, and Google have cemented their platforms in businesses from social media to movies as critics argue their...