Fox news boss orders reporters to always question climate change

Fair and balanced!

Their Washington Bureau news chief emailed them saying, “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.”  Apparently they would be expected to say “some scientists say there was an ice age 450,000 years ago, but that is based on a theory whose data has been called into question.”

Whether the average temperature has changed worldwide is a matter of fact, not of theory.  Theories are designed to explain facts and predict new facts (to test a theory and to expand a theory).  One can question the process of measurement — say it is wrong — but that has nothing to do with theory.  I doubt that few news stories would have time to discuss how average temperatures are calculated and where measurement error might creep in.

Fox News e-mail shows network’s slant on climate change. By Paul Farhi. Washington Post Staff Writer






  1. malencid Avatar

    I would like to point out one thing. When we watch a weather forecast on TV the average high and low are often mentioned. This also appears in newspapers. This data come from the US Meteorological Service. What most people don’t know is that this is a running average for only the last 30 years. Take some time and try to find a running average for the last 100 years. This will lead you to the obvious conclusion that the temperature has warmed particularly the evening temperatures.

  2. Daniel Berg Avatar
    Daniel Berg

    I struggle with this issue. I think it is a pipe dream to ever think that the news industry as a whole will ever really be “fair and balanced”. Whenever you have human beings involved, there will be bias. Owners, reporters, producers, etc……Also, at what point is it a viewer’s responsibility to be well-informed enough to be able to sniff out a lot of the bullshit? If someone says they never believed in global warming because Fox told them not to, isn’t that viewer’s stupidity just as big of a problem?

    Is a news organization taking too far when they omit facts or statistics? Or lie about them? Or only report certain kinds of stories? Everybody’s opinion of what is and isn’t appropriate will be different. Achieving “fair and balanced” in the media is almost impossible because it’s a moving target based on each viewers opinion. Many will never be pleased. Many peoples’ idea of what is “fair and balanced” is actually based on a bias.

    With climate change especially, I think people have a responsibility to seek information out from several outlets. I realize that is a pipe dream for many as well but it’s the only way a person is ever going to develop anything close to a “fair and balanced” opinion. It is such a politicized issue unfortunately that there is no way you can sort through all of the bullshit without a decent amount of effort.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    The bias at Fox News would not be very important, the bias in anyplace would be much less of a problem, if, as you say, Daniel, people would seek out several sources of info on important issues.

    1. Daniel Berg Avatar
      Daniel Berg

      So I guess the question becomes does one support controllng a company like News Corp to save people from themselves, or do people just continue to point out the bias and hope it registers with those who would otherwise be deceived?

      Right now I support the latter.

  4. Ralph Maughan Avatar

    I think the presence of companies like Fox News calls for a strong relatively objective, public media like the BBC and the CBC.

    Libertarians would scream, but extreme bias, even if it occurs in many political directions is not self correcting. No democratic economic or political system can continue without occasional interventions to protect the public interest.

    That’s my view.

    1. WM Avatar

      To add to Ralph’s observation, sources of deep investigative reporting from independent or for profit news sources is on a rapid decline. Think of how many metro and regional newspapers have gone out of business in the last five years (Seattle PI, Rocky Mountain News to name two), and even Newsweek closed its doors about a month ago. The sources which remain are constantly being challenged to reduce costs, and hence the resources that go into deep investigation of topics.

      The alternative is on-line news which often only republishes the work of others. And then there is the constant concern that those news sources which remain are beholding to large corporate sponsors who, as consolidation occurs, want input over content. Public radio and public television, have always been good sources, but even those business models are changing as they are freed from government support. Each time I turn on PBS the advertisements seem to be getting longer and more like network and cable TV. This is a bit frightening.

      Yes, I am a bit paranoid about what is happening in this area. We all should be.

      1. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        I’ve been reading the Seattle Times online and also through an “app” on my I-phone. They have a good variety of stories. I’m always impressed by how many articles relating to wildlife/environmental issues I come across.

        I think that there is a decent amount of thoughtful journalism online, it’s just the that sheer volume of garbage, reproduction, and selective editing you have to be bombarded with in an effort to find the good stuff probably turns a lot of people off.

      2. WM Avatar


        Who do you think pays for the on-line journalism which you read for nothing, in most instances? Print media circulation has gone way down, and consequently costs are being cut, including the reporting function. The Seattle Times is a privately owned paper by the Blethen family. It is not in good financial condition because of the reduced circulation, and due to the bad economy advertisers are watching every penny and not placing ads in print or on line at a pace necessary to keep the paper going long term. Investigative journalism will suffer.

      3. Daniel Berg Avatar
        Daniel Berg

        I thought they actually turned a profit after the PI went out of print? I read it for free because their online business model revolves around generating advertising revenue. I read the Times online quite often. Since the prices paid by an advertiser for slots on the website are somewhat if not mostly dictated by the number of hits a website receives, I’m actually doing my part to help generate higher online advertising revenue for them.

        My question when it comes to intervention will ultimately be how do you create an environment relatively free from strong bias that is supportive of more investigative journalism without creating the potential for abuse by one side or ther other? I feel that there is no easy answer to that question.

      4. WM Avatar

        The Times struggled under the joint operating agreement, while the Hearst organization (owner of the PI) tried to drive them out of business. In the end, the stronger paper survived in the shrinking market, but balance in print media (PI is more liberal as was the Rocky Mtn News in Denver) and counter viewpoints, as a consequence, will be gone forever.

        Print advertising is where the money is and businesses are not able to spend much these days. On-line not so much. The Times has gone through huge down-sizings, and asked employees to make major concessions – no raises for the last three years I think, furloughs, no pension, and commission cuts for those on that kind of compensation program. It is not pretty.

        Buy a print subscription, Daniel. Reporting will get better and the paper will be a better product for those who read it. On-line readers are, in my opinion, freeloaders just like those who watch public television and do not donate to keep it going. But, then I do it too (the newspaper thing, anyway).

  5. Cody Coyote Avatar
    Cody Coyote

    If you want to see a glimpse of the future of journalism being actualized now, go to WyoFile ( WyoFile is the antithesis of for-profit and/or corporate media ; disdains the “rewrite the press release” reporting; goes to depth on the issues it chooses to report on. It serves as a clearinghouse the better reporting of Wyoming issues and instances. Their business model is the grant+donation model, and in turn they make their material available for free to any established Wyoming media outlet, plus some side agreements with the likes of ProPublica, NewWest, and High Country News which are of the same model. WyoFile is a collaborative effort…no central offices but very well connected core staff. Every article is fastidiously reviewed, editted , and fact checked by three editors.

    Out in the corporate for-profit world of news gathering, the Copy Editor and the fact checker were heaved over the rail early alongside the beat reporters as the fratricide marched through the newsrooms with axes and a sack of pink slips to bolster profits. Newspapers got spoiled by 20 percent returns , pre-digital , and the outside forces of greed overcame journalistic integrity. The LA Times newsroom went from a staff of 800 down to 150 and is still falling. One of their senior editors , a foreign bureau chief, ran WyoFile till November of this year. He re-retired and it took two very capable qualified Wyoming editors to replace him.

    Look around…major news empires are crumbling. They’ve been forced to go cold turkey on their money fix, and really had no Plan B or C. Newspapers and magazines were not so much in the news gathering and content business at all , compared to the excessive brick and mortar costs or manufacturing something on paper. They were factories, not think tanks, and have gone the way of the steel mills in the Rust Belt. It happened quicker than anyone expected.

    Yes, the news industry is still money driven these days , anachronistically . The once high stout walls and moats between editorial , advertising , and accounting have all but vanished, even at staid agencies like NPR/PBS and state university news gatherers who are under overt pressure to ” conform” and output favorable soft fluffy news instead of hard factuality nicely packaged. The news business has been bought off. Fox News is not the worst example, just the most visible. And to my mind, a plague carrier. The story cited here of Fox pre-judging environmental content and context is a smoking gun pointed right at their own feet. They must wear titanium moon boots at Fox News and buy ammunition by the traincar load.

    [ In all fairness: Paradoxically , local hometown mom and pop newspapers have always run on the money model of news reporting. Hard news is anathema if it means having to appease an advertiser two doors down. ]

    The Bottom Line here is if we enlightened folk expect to be able to have great watertight journalism and hardrock issue mining and refining at our fingertips or on the screen , we are going to have to contribute towards it directly. The paid advertising model as a means of supporting the newsroom is no longer valid.

    Every state needs its own WyoFile. Several, actually.

    (Disclaimer: I am a paid contributor of photography to WyoFile on occasion , not on staff )

  6. Nancy Avatar

    Cody Coyote – have you seen the article – 4 Senerios for the Coming Collapse of the American Empire?

    I’d provide a link for the article but for some reason everyone I’ve sent the link to has a “problem” accessing the site from the link (Found that interesting and disturbing) Google AlterNet and search for the article.

  7. Alan Gregory Avatar

    So it goes in the wonderful farcical world of “fair and balanced.”


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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