What's With 'Fair and Balanced' Fox's One-Sided Global Warming Special?

The Free Market Project's Dan Gainor has critiqued the Fox News Channel special, "The Heat is On," a one-hour, one-sided special featuring environmental activists/celebrities Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. and Laurie David, wife of Seinfeld co-creator Larry David.Gainor noted in his review that Fox News coverage of global warming and climate change stories had heretofore been the most balanced of all the broadcast outlets surveyed by the Free Market Project:

"The Heat is On" was a quite a departure for Fox. A Nov. 8, 2004, Free Market Project (FMP) study found Fox News the best of all five major TV networks in its news stories about global warming and the Kyoto Protocol. FMP analyzed news coverage from Jan. 20, 2001, until Sept. 30, 2004, and found "The Fox News Channel delivered better and more balanced reporting on global warming."

Gainor then documented host Rick Folbaum's lengthy disclaimer which excused the channel's one-sided coverage:

... Folbaum started off his broadcast with this vow: "And here at Fox News Channel, we like to examine the big issues facing Americans: terrorism, crime, health care, just to name a few. Tonight, we make a commitment to shed light, not heat, on one of the biggest issues looming on the horizon."The only thing Folbaum shed was balance. In all, the "Fair & Balanced" network included nearly 30 people in the broadcast and nearly all were strong believers in climate change. The only other people represented were a few environmentally friendly speakers who took no public position on the issue. Folbaum went so far as to describe the U.N.-sponsored Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change as the place "where policy makers turn for the last word on global warming." What he left out is that the only policy makers who do that are the ones with a global warming agenda.

In addition to imbalance, Gainor noted three factual errors:

  • Folbaum claimed that "Eight years ago, the Kyoto Protocol was pushed as a solution. The agreement required the U.S. to cut emissions by 7 percent" by 2012. That is incorrect. The U.S. received the strongest sanction and was required to cut emissions 7 percent below 1990 levels - nearly 20 percent below 2004 estimates.
  • He quoted former President Bill Clinton advocating for Kyoto. "But the Bush White House said Kyoto would cost companies and the American taxpayers too much money," he added. Actually, the massive cost and job loss figures for Kyoto don't come from the Bush White House. They come from the government's Energy Information Administration and were calculated during the Clinton administration. According to EIA, Kyoto would cost the United States between $225 billion to more than $400 billion per year. The agency also predicted signing the treaty would cause widespread employment loss nationwide ranging from 1.1 million to 4.9 million jobs. And it wasn't only the Bush White House that rejected the treaty, either - that was a 95-0 Senate vote.
  • The report quoted Michael Oppenheimer of Princeton University, who claimed, "It's become too late for the U.S. to realistically meet its Kyoto goals." Since the U.S. never signed on to the treaty, that is irrelevant. But what the report left out is that other nations won't meet Kyoto goals, either. For example, even the Sierra Club of Canada admitted in its 2004 report card that Canada "has made little progress in reducing greenhouse gas emissions." Aftenposten reported in September that Norway's "greenhouse gases" had actually increased.

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Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is the Managing Editor for NewsBusters