WFox News Media Announces Plans for a 24-hour weather channelThe company couldn’t have predicted that it would launch in a week marked with a bomb cyclone, several tornadoesAnd severe floodingAll across the north-east.
Yet that’s exactly what happened when Fox Weather launched on Monday last week, to much fanfare from its owners, but to serious trepidation from people concerned that the channel could match the infamous climate change scepticismFox News is its sister channel.
Fox News hosts have been hosting for years rubbishing or underminingThe idea that humans are responsible for climate change is not new. However, the fact that Fox News executives were behind the Fox Weather launch suggests that these worries may be well-founded.
Fox Weather has yet to host guests in its first few days. suggestedClimate change is either a hoax and/or not serious. But that’s not to say the nascent TV channel has been championing environmental reform.
“Fox Weather Doesn’t Deny Climate Change. They Just Ignore It,” ran a headline in the New RepublicWednesday
Watching for hours Fox Weather, the Guardian heard plenty of detail – much of it genuinely informative – about how tornadoes form, and how storms can be observed in 3D maps. There were public advisories too: don’t drive around in floods, viewers were told, while people in the path of a storm were advised to shelter in a bathroom or hallway.
As meteorologists, based in New York City and their cream-and red set, giddily analysed the unusually large number of storms, it was not mentioned that the climate crisis is being addressed by world leaders.
To be fair though, a side-by side analysis of the midday meteorological news output of the Weather Channel yielded similar results. The channel’s coverage of climate and weather is not a broad topic. Instead, they are more like weather dramas where the news is covered quickly and without much time for reflection.
The reasons behind Fox Weather’s woes are evident. In 2020 Fox News’ most-watched host, Tucker Carlson, rubbished the idea that forest fires on the west coast were a result of climate crisis – serious climate scientists, however, agree that the fires are very much linked to the breakdown – and suggested environmental hazards were a liberal conspiracy.
Carlson’s colleague Laura Ingraham has insistedContrary to experts’ findings, that the planet is in a “natural” cycle of warming, and suggested that environmental activists like Greta Thunberg had been “brainwashed”, while Sean Hannity said the left’s “obsession” with the climate was a “political tool”.
To take one sample during the first half 2019. Public Citizen foundFox News devoted 247 segments on the climate crisis to its news program. Of those, “212 (86%) were dismissive of the climate crisis, cast warming and its consequences in doubt or employed fearmongering when discussing climate solutions,” Public Citizen said.
Fox Weather has not displayed any overt denialism, and the channel has been careful to make clear its climate change bona fides. Fox News Media spokeswoman, citing statements by meteorologists and executives about climate change.
“If you’re asking about climate change, climate change is part of our lives. It’s how we live. It’s not going to be ignored,” Sharri Berg, formerly the executive vice-president of news operations for the Fox News channel, and currently one of the people in charge of the Fox Weather launch, told VarietyOctober 21.
“We will be reporting facts,” Berg said.
There have, however, been a number of missed opportunities to mention the climate crisis, particularly in the articles published to Fox Weather’s website.
A piece “7 facts about heat waves” notes that “heat waves occur more often than they used to”, but makes no mention of the changing climate. Another article says that Louisiana “has lost roughly 2,000 square miles of wetlands” over the last 90 years but does not mention the climate crisis responsible for stronger storms and rising seas.
A piece about fall foliage being delayed in TennesseeBecause of warmer temperatures, there is no mention of rising global temperatures. An article about a shortage of roses notes that the weather in South America, where many roses are grown, had been “unseasonably cold”, and mentions that “Parts of Columbia [sic] and Ecuador have received upwards of 400 percent of above-average rainfall”. The climate crisis is not mentioned.
Friday a pieceConcerning coastal flooding, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said that sea-level rose, due to climate change, was responsible.
It would appear that in stories where other news outlets would almost certainly mention the planet’s changing climate, Fox Weather pieces can shy away from the topic.
Berg assigned a reporter for the Cop26 climate crisis conference at Glasgow. But, as of Thursday, there was no reporter. not a single mention of Cop26Visit its website.
It may be too soon, less than a week after its launch, to draw a full assessment of the channel’s overarching direction on climate.
But so far, while Fox Weather isn’t denying the climate crisis, it isn’t exploring it either.