Jason "The Kilted Wonder" Shick (optimsprm) wrote in ontd_political,
Jason "The Kilted Wonder" Shick

Fox News on climate: skip the science, report the "controversy"

Accusations of biased reporting against Fox News are common enough that they're no longer, well, news. And examples of poor reporting on the science of climate change are painfully common. But it's apparently the season of the leak, and a progressive media organization has obtained a leaked e-mail from Bill Sammon, a managing editor at Fox News, in which he directly orders his reporters to provide misleading science coverage.

Reportedly, a Fox staffer forwarded an internal e-mail to Media Matters, a progressive organization that monitors conservative media outlets. Entitled "Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data..." it continues:

...we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

To a large extent, this represents the triumph of the creationist movement's strategy of claiming there's a controversy about evolution, then demanding coverage of the controversy, rather than the science of evolution. It also requires a similar form of scientific ignorance, in that Sammon doesn't seem to recognize the difference between a measurement of temperature change and the theory that explains these changes.

And the position specifically abdicates any responsibility to identify facts, instead favoring an attempt to appear balanced. Yes, critics have called the temperature record into question. But these criticisms do not appear to be scientifically valid. Some focus on the temperature record created at the CRU (site of the climate e-mail theft), but this is one of three global records, all of which show nearly identical trends (the other two are from NASA and NOAA).

Others focus on the possible impacts of urbanization on the temperature record. However, an analysis of US data suggests that any distortions in temperatures readings are weak and biased toward colder temperatures. A separate analysis identified urban areas by the light they emit at night, and found that "urban effects on analyzed global change are small." (This latter paper is still in revision.)

Even if you discard all temperature records, there is plenty of other evidence that the planet has warmed: the loss of glaciers, the shrinking Arctic ice cap, habitats that have shifted towards the poles and to higher elevations, accelerated animal migrations, etc. And, if you can't be bothered with the underlying science, the US government and scientific societies have both described the reality of climate change.

In short, there may be a controversy over the existence and direction of recent temperature trends, but the controversy doesn't appear to be factual, and it certainly has nothing to do with any theoretical issues. But Sammon doesn't seem interested in learning any of this. On a personal level, that's perfectly acceptable. Unfortunately, Sammon has chosen to turn his willful ignorance into official policy for a large and influential staff of journalists

ETA: Source
Sorry mods, my bad for forgetting the Source
Tags: climate change, first amendment, fox news, science

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