Climate crisis researchers worry about the channel’s reach to perpetuate misinformation and advance political goals
Fox News Media, the company that owns the reactionary, climate crisis-skeptical Fox News, is launching a weather channel this year – a development that has climate crisis experts worried.
Fox Weather, a 24-hour channel devoted to all things meteorological, promises “cutting-edge display technology”, according to a press release, with “forecasting experts surrounding every major weather event”.
But it is Fox News’ output, and the potential for Fox Weather to adopt a similar tone to its sister channel, that has onlookers concerned. Hosts on Fox News have spent years rubbishing or undermining the idea of manmade climate breakdown, and the fact that two Fox News-linked executives are behind the weather channel launch doesn’t bode well.
“Fox News has access to and is highly trusted by a wide range of conservative Americans – which is precisely the audience that least well understands the serious threats that climate change poses to the safety, security and health of all Americans,” said Edward Maibach, director of George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication.
“If Fox chooses to use its access and credibility to inform viewers about the realities of climate change and its impacts on the weather, it could be a game changer. Conversely, if it opts to perpetuate misinformation to advance political goals, it will be a huge disservice to all Americans – conservative, liberal and moderate,” Maibach said.
Last year, Tucker Carlson rubbished the idea that forest fires on the west coast were a result of climate crisis – serious climate scientists, however, agree that the fires are very much linked to the breakdown – and suggested environmental hazards were a liberal conspiracy.
Carlson’s colleague Laura Ingraham has insisted, contrary to experts’ findings, that the planet is in a “natural” cycle of warming, and suggested that environmental activists like Greta Thunberg had been “brainwashed”, while Sean Hannity said the left’s “obsession” with the climate was a “political tool”.
“The danger of [Fox News Media] running a weather channel is that if they pervert news about the weather anything like how they’ve perverted news about climate change and energy politics, millions of Americans will be further misled about this crisis,” said Geoffrey Supran, research fellow at Harvard University’s department of the history of science.