Fox News on climate: skip the science, report the "controversy"

By John Timmer

Accusations of biased reporting against Fox News are common enough that they’re no longer, well, news. And examples of poor reporting on the science of climate change are painfully common. But it’s apparently the season of the leak, and a progressive media organization has obtained a leaked e-mail from Bill Sammon, a managing editor at Fox News, in which he directly orders his reporters to provide misleading science coverage.

Reportedly, a Fox staffer forwarded an internal e-mail to Media Matters, a progressive organization that monitors conservative media outlets. Entitled "Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data…" it continues:

…we should 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. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

To a large extent, this represents the triumph of the creationist movement’s strategy of claiming there’s a controversy about evolution, then demanding coverage of the controversy, rather than the science of evolution. It also requires a similar form of scientific ignorance, in that Sammon doesn’t seem to recognize the difference between a measurement of temperature change and the theory that explains these changes.

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