The Intertubes have been buzzing with a new Reuters report that calls out two dozen major US companies for supporting climate change denial, by making campaign contributions to well-known climate change deniers in Congress. That wouldn’t be such a big deal except the companies in question have also pledged themselves to one of President Obama’s climate initiatives, somewhat cumbersomely dubbed the American Business Act on Climate Change.
We’re shocked, shocked that major corporations have been hedging their bets when it comes to making political donations. Meanwhile, it appears that Reuters has let the biggest bet-hedger off the hook.
The Climate Change Denier List
The new Reuters report focuses on campaign contributions made by ABACC pledgees to members of Congress who are on a list of 130 climate change deniers assembled by the non-profit group Organizing for Action.
OFA was created to raise grassroots support for President Obama’s policies on climate change as well as immigration, economic opportunity, civil rights and women’s rights, gun violence, and health care.
For each legislator on the climate change denial list, OFA provides a quote that sums up his or her position along with a link to the source. OFA also provides a rundown of climate change impacts expected (or occurring now) in the home state of each legislator.
One climate change denier on the list stands out in particular. That would be Jim Inhofe (R-OK), who gained instant fame last year by bringing a snowball onto the floor of Congress to illustrate a speech proclaiming that climate change is not real.
Here’s the money quote from Inofe’s OFA listing:
“I have offered compelling evidence that catastrophic global warming is a hoax. That conclusion is supported by the painstaking work of the nation’s top climate scientists.”
Fox Supports Climate Change Denial…
The speech and the snowball were met with a storm of criticism from mainstream media with the notable exception of Fox News.
In typical Fox News fashion, the network followed up on the speech by inviting Inhofe on board for an interview. In effect, that provided him with a friendly platform upon which to frame the climate change “debate.” Here’s a rundown of Fox‘s February 28 segment on Inhofe (provided by Media Matters):
The clip [of the speech] preceded an interview with Inhofe, in which co-host Tucker Carlson asked why some people are “trying to shut down debate” on the causes of climate change. Inhofe responded that “there are so many people out there in the extreme community, the far left … and they’re trying to revive this as an issue,” adding that “it’s become a religion.”
That was far from an isolated instance. Fox also consistently provides an online media platform for climate change deniers and their supporters.
The network has also been known to scrub references to climate change from stories that it acquires from The Associated Press and elsewhere.
Not surprisingly, last year Fox refused to air an ad that called out its habit of supporting climate change denial.
Don’t just take our word for it — in 2013 a study in the journal Public Understanding of Science zinged Fox for misleading the public on climate change.
…And Fox Supports The American Business Act on Climate Change
Clearly, none of this counts as a political contribution. However, the support of an entire national news network does provide tremendous value for legislators like Jim Inhofe when they hit the campaign trail to tout their position on climate change.
That finally brings us around to the Reuters report. By focusing narrowly on cold cash in the form of campaign contributions, Reuters missed something that you’ll see as soon as you take a look at the American Business Act on Climate Change.
Go to the list of 154 ABACC pledgees and at the very top of the list you’ll see 21th Century Fox, the parent company of Fox News via Fox Entertainment Group.
21st Century Fox’s position at the top of the list is an accident of organization (the list appears alphabetically with number-names first), but still. If you’re going to make a big deal about ABACC pledgees hedging their bets, 21st Century Fox should stick out like a sore thumb.
That’s partly because of Fox News, and partly because at the top of 21st Century Fox is Rupert Murdoch, the media mogul who has been front and center in the promotion of climate change denial in the UK and Australia as well as in the US.
Which Fox Goes All In For Climate Science?
And, that’s where things get a little crazy.
Murdoch publicly articulated his support for climate change denial as recently as August 2015. On the other hand, in January 2016 he went ahead and married climate activist Jerry Hall, who staked out her position as early as 2009 with a fiery op-ed published in The Daily Mail.
To spice the pot even more, last year 21st Century Fox expanded a longstanding partnership with The National Geographic Channel.
That made some people a bit nervous, but not to worry. Last fall, NGC premiered its “Breakthrough” series, which among other topics completely upended Fox News‘ message about climate change.
21st Century Fox and NGC have something even more special planned for this fall. Earlier this summer, NGC announced that it has acquired worldwide rights to a new feature documentary on climate change.
The A-list production team behind the new doc includes Leonardo DiCaprio and Fisher Stevens (known for his 2009 documentary on dolphins), so you know this isn’t a Fox News style bait-and-switch.
Called The Turning Point, the film has been described as a “call to action.” Coincidentally — or not — it’s set to unspool in advance of Election Day.
Actually, it really is not a coincidence. NGC is clear that The Turning Point is meant as an influencer:
Serving as a warning ahead of the U.S. elections this fall to vote for leaders who prioritize climate change policies, the film also explains real, practical solutions to help save the planet.
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Photo (cropped): Fox News socks by Jason Eppink via flickr.com, creative commons license.
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