Media Misrepresentation of Climate Change

Updated On
What Global Warming? Fox and Friends

We may collect a share of sales from items linked to on this page. Learn more.

The world, it’s climate and the environment is going through some major changes courtesy of global warming and the rising temperatures in our atmosphere. And while scientists have released study after study sharing the devastating outcomes of global warming, there are still people who are skeptical about whether global warming is real and if it is, whether it is man-made or not. Don’t believe me? Consider this: The March 2012 Climate Change in the American Mind report found that 14 percent of people in the United States don’t believe in climate change.

While there are many possible explanations and several variables at play as to why there are non-believers out there, one of the reasons just could the role media plays. News outlets have great power when it comes to reporting anything and thus, the emphasis they place on a piece of news can change perception. Unfortunately, the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) has just released a new report that discloses the media bias in some US cable news channels when reporting about climate science. Specifically, the report looked at Fox News and the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal.
Fox and Friends Global Warming PollUCS took a look into the coverage of climate science on Fox News from February to July 2012 and the Wall Street Journal opinion page from August 2011 to July 2012. They found that Fox News made 40 references to climate change in that time, with the Journal making 48 references.

So what’s the problem? UCS found that 93 percent of the climate change references made my Fox News were misleading and tend to “broadly dismiss the scientific consensus that climate change is occurring or human-induced.” In the Wall Street Journal, on the other hand, 81 percent of letters, op-eds, columns and editorials were deemed misleading. Most “attempted to broadly undermine the major conclusions of climate science. Instances of attacks on individual scientists, mocking the science, and cherry-picking data were all equally common. Instance included accusations that scientists were fudging data and claims that they are motivated by financial self-interest.”

Ultimately, UCS finds that News Corp.–the multinational parent company that owns Fox News, the Wall Street Journal, the NY Post and more–“has an obligation to improve its representations of climate science,” and “needs to help its staff to differentiate between opinions about climate science and scientific facts.” The report states:

It is entirely appropriate to disagree with specific actions or policies aimed at addressing climate change while accepting the clearly established findings of climate science. And while it is appropriate to question new science as it emerges, it is misleading to reject or sow doubt about established science—in this case, the overwhelming body of evidence that human-caused climate change is occurring.

Why is this so important? Fox News is the most-watched cable news channel in the US and the Wall Street Journal has the greatest newspaper circulation in the nation, which means that when they downplay climate change and environmental concerns, it makes a difference.

  • Susmita Baral

    Susmita is a writer and editor in the Greater New York City area. In her spare time, Susmita enjoys cooking, traveling, dappling in photography, art history and interior design, and moonlighting as a therapist for her loved ones.

What do you think? Leave a comment!