Backlash against Fox News’s planned weather channel: Rupert Murdoch’s ‘life work’ has made climate misery worse

·3-min read
Rupert Murdoch, is sworn in before testimony to the House Committee on the Judiciary on Capitol Hill in Washington (Reuters)
Rupert Murdoch, is sworn in before testimony to the House Committee on the Judiciary on Capitol Hill in Washington (Reuters)

Rupert Murdoch, the owner of Fox News and its sister channel Fox Business, is aiming to add a weather channel to its portfolio later this year, a development that has outraged those who believe the network will continue to peddle climate change denial under the guise of weather news.

According to an analysis by Public Citizen, 86 per cent of Fox News segments dealing with the climate deny that climate change is driven by human action.

On Tuesday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes tore into both Mr Murdoch and the network's decision to wade into climate discussions through a weather channel.

He said that Mr Murdoch will "try to do for the world's climate what he has done for American democracy - deny it, undermine it, lead it to the brink of destruction."

Mr Hayes said Fox News and its on-air personalities have already had a detrimental effect on the fight to adjust the world's carbon output in order to stave off the worst potential effects of climate change.

“It’s really not a stretch to say Rupert Murdoch’s media empire…stopped us from taking action on climate change sooner, continues to block us, and we’re now dealing with the fallout," he said. "One could only imagine how a weather channel practicing climate change denial would approach these stories. How would they explain the insane heat?”

He said that rising temperatures would inevitably cause mass human suffering, and claimed that Mr Murdoch would be directly responsible for placing hurdles in front of the forces trying to stop that suffering.

“The world we live in is being ravaged by the heat. That heat will cause incalculable human misery, and that misery is thanks — in large part — to Rupert Murdoch and his life’s work," he said. "Murdoch is 90 now so he will not be here to see all of what he put into motion, but I truly hope that none of us ever forget what he has done.”

On top of Mr Murdoch's obvious ideological motivations, the move may also be a good business move; viewership at The Weather Channel has risen 7 per cent in the first half of the year, while viewership for all big cable networks has fallen.

The fear among critics is that Fox's weather network will use its right-wing ideological bent and conspiracy mongering to undermine legitimate climate information, further politicising a topic that should be of concern to every human on the planet.

Last month, Fox's top star, Tucker Carlson, forwarded a conspiracy theory alleging that climate activists want to conduct experiments that would "make children smaller" in an effort to fix global warming. That claim, of course, is not true.

Allison Fisher, the director of the climate and energy program at Media Matters, told Gizmodo that Fox News uses "weather to push climate denial. That is a long-worn tactic of Fox News, even before Trump was tweeting out, like 'where's your global warming now?' during a snowstorm. That's a very classic Fox move."

She said that Fox personalities will use cold weather to deny global warming and often try to divorce weather from climate when discussing examples of climate change like the growing intensity of wildfires or the increasing strength of hurricanes.

"They're the ones who have made weather political," she said.

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