Fox so-called “news” is branching out.
According to a press release, Fox Weather promises “cutting-edge display technology” replete with “forecasting experts surrounding every major weather event”.
On the surface, this may appear laudable.
But let’s not dismiss all the ways Fox has built a brand undermining science and facts.
It is this that has climate experts worried.
George Mason University’s Center for Climate Change Communication director, Edward Maibach, warned:
“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. 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.”
Geoffrey Supran, research fellow at Harvard University’s department of the history of science, added:
“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. It’s been shown that the most important predictors of public support for climate action are understanding that this crisis is real, human-caused, serious and solvable. If, as I and I’m sure others fear, [Fox News Media’s] weather channel downplays the links between global warming and extreme weather, it will only solidify their viewers’ existing biases against climate action.”
Pertaining to what was been called the “Fox News Effect,” Edward Maibach explained:
“One of our studies, for example, showed that before Fox News began its attack on the Green New Deal, most conservatives supported its core policy proposals. Six months later–after Fox had relentlessly attacked it and its sponsors–support for those proposals dropped to near zero among frequent Fox viewers.”
The timing couldn’t be more curious since The Weather Channel (TWC) is “doubling down on climate,” according to Nora Zimmett , TWC’s chief content officer and executive vice president.
She told The Atlanta Journal Constitution:
“American sentiment only recently caught up with the urgency of the issue. Years ago, our audience didn’t want to hear about it. They are much more interested in it now. Our viewers are seeing it [the climate crisis] on their doorsteps. It’s impacting them in ways never before seen. Industries such as farming are saying they have seen such crazy weather patterns. Many natural disasters are being linked to climate change. The evidence has become overwhelming. Young people are shouting about it on the rooftops.”
In light of how “fair and balanced” Fox is in reporting most everything else, is there any reason to believe we should trust its weather coverage?
Edward Maibach, for one, is skeptical.
“I don’t expect that Fox News will change its ways or its views about climate change anytime soon,” he said. “But Fox Weather has the opportunity to get the facts right. Let’s hope it chooses to.”
John Whitehouse, writing for media watchdog group Media Matters for America, which daily chronicles Fox disinformation, stated in his piece “After years of climate denial, there is no reason to trust Fox Weather”:
“Weather coverage is dominated by extreme weather events. Fox’s coverage of them has proven to be terrible, and there’s no reason to believe that in the big picture, Fox Weather will be any better.”
Ted Millar is writer and teacher. His work has been featured in myriad literary journals, including Better Than Starbucks, Caesura, Circle Show, Cactus Heart, & Third Wednesday. He is also a contributor to The Left Place blog on Substack, Liberal Nation Rising, and Medium.