Happy Holidays, Fox ‘News’! Here’s a Leak for You!

Owned. Fox News, like every news outlet is owned and if we’re going to keep our “fair and balanced” gyroscope upright we have to continually ask the question: by whom? With that, here’s some timely irony. In last weeks’ op-ed in The Australian, Wikileaks founder Juilan Assange wrote: “In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: ‘In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.'”

So here’s some truth for the media magnate Assange cites in his defense of getting real. During last week’s frenzy of leak speak, this from Fox News: A year ago, during the Copenhagen climate change summit, one of the network’s reporters said on air that the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record.” Within 15 minutes, a senior network official issued a memo questioning the accuracy of climate change data and ordering Fox “journalists” to “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.” The memo concludes: “It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.”

The memo, leaked by watchdog group Media Matters, was written by Fox News’ Vice President of News and Washington Managing Editor Bill Sammon. This is the same guy who instructed his network’s journalists during the health care reform debate to cease using the term “public option” and instead use “government option.”

The same night the climate change memo/directive was sent, on Fox News’ Special Report with Bret Baier (“the number one cable news program in its timeslot”) correspondent James Rosen brought up the Climategate scandal and claimed that climate scientists “destroyed more than 150 years’ worth of raw climate data.” This at a time when it was already well-known that, taken in any light, the University of East Anglia “leaks” (there’s that word again) had nothing to do with the veracity of facts related to climate change.

Here’s the thing: In a world where nomenclature shapes perceived reality (and we all know what perception is), we have to ask what it means when we call a spade a, well, say a diamond. There’s the continued to use of the term “theory” around evolution and the “pro-life” litmus test language shrouding what might more accurately be called “anti-choice” sentiment. And how about the “death tax” nom de guerre assigned to taxing inheritance windfalls? The idea of climate change being assigned “notion” status by those interested in altering that perception/reality is not surprising. It must be tough when facts don’t do what you want them to.

Rupert and Bill, lest there be any confusion, here are a few facts, according to the National Cimatic Data Center (NCDC): the global surface temperature (including in the United States) is rising, sea level is rising, global upper ocean heat content is rising, northern hemisphere snow cover is retreating and U.S. climate extremes are increasing.

And there’s this: While no one can say if the reporter was fair and balanced, he sure was accurate. According to that tree-hugging and far-left-extremist organization NASA, the decade ending in 2009 was indeed the warmest in history. 2009 was also “the second warmest year since 1880, when modern temperature measurement began.”

So let’s close the loop here on the concept of “owned” and what’s so ironic about this coming down the Fox pipes. Murdoch’s News Corporation, which owns Fox News, is under the gun right now to achieve its pledge to be carbon neutral by 2010. This promise was much ballyhooed at the time it was made (a result of Murdoch himself claiming to have undergone an eco-transformation in 2007) and, while it’s not clear if the organization is going to achieve its goal, the Murdoch PR machines have been busy working it hard over the last few years. So while his Fox News organization plays it fast and loose with the facts, it seems that Mr. Murdoch has two options: Fire Sammon and Rosen and anyone else involved in purposefully distorting facts related to climate change data – or live with this title: Hypocrite.

Image: dutchlad

Scott Adelson

Scott Adelson is EcoSalon's Senior Editor of HyperKulture, a monthly column that explores opening cultural doors to initiate personal change. He is also the author of InPRINT, which reviews and discusses books, new and old. You can reach him at scott@adelson.org.