By Jon Lamson
As we all take shelter and watch the world burn around us, now seems to be as good of a time as any to ask ourselves “Why can’t we get anything right?” And while the answer is probably deeper and more intellectual than just “Fox News,” if one were to go onto Fox News and make such a statement, it would likely be far more accurate than anything else that oozes off of the Fox & Friends couch and into the sitting rooms of baby boomers across the nation.
Fox News’ influence, as the most watched cable network in the country and as the crippling addiction of our country’s fearless leader, cannot be overstated. Earlier this month, hip millennial/racist Fox News commentator Jesse Watters said, “I’m not afraid of the coronavirus and no one else should be that afraid either,” and (of Chinese people) “they are eating raw bats and snakes. They are a very hungry people.” While nobody should be getting their advice from an individual who has been simply unable to hide his contempt towards the Chinese over the past few weeks, an unfortunately large portion of people do: his show “Watters’ World” consistently reaches over two million viewers.
On the other side of the studio, Fox & Friends has proven just as horrendous in the leadup to the crisis we are currently experiencing. Weekend host Pete Hegseth declared that the “more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about,” while Ainsley Earhardt informed us all that actually, it is “the safest time to fly.” Right. Furthermore, the hosts made no objections when a guest speculated that the whole COVID-19 “hype” was just a political attack on President Donald Trump, and put forward the theory that the virus was engineered in a joint effort by the Chinese and North Korean governments to cripple the American people.
These patterns were not constrained to one show, with Sean Hannity calling it a hoax, Jeanine Pirro conflating it to the seasonal flu, and talking heads such as Laura Ingram, Geraldo Rivera, and Trish Regan spreading various blatant misinformation.
As this occurred on Fox, superfan Trump consistently publicly downplayed the seriousness of the virus, and made a number of baseless predictions and assessments of the situation, including that “by April, you know, in theory, when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away,” that “It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away,” and that “we pretty much shut it down coming in from China. We have a tremendous relationship with China.”
While these lies and deceptions are horrific, they perfectly mirror how Fox News has treated the climate catastrophe. A number of studies by the Union of Concerned Scientists from different years found that the network ranged from 28% to 7% accuracy in their segments covering climate change. When comparing this to Fox’s initial coverage of COVID-19, it is easy to see that certain individuals have an affinity for doing whatever it takes to inhibit progress.
On the subject of youth climate protests, Jesse “Doubtful that man is causing the warming” Watters believes the real truth is that “there’s no Vietnam War. There are no civil rights issues. So they don’t have anything to protest. They’re protesting the weather.”
Back at Fox & Friends, resident beef enthusiast Hegseth claims “It’s weather — the left wants to fight things that they can’t see, that are easy to fight, like weather, but they don’t want to fight enemies with faces like Islamists.” Ah yes, climate denial with a nice dollop of Islamophobia to top it off.
The program has also interviewed a large number of climate deniers and launched attacks on young climate protesters, with Earhardt stating her personal belief that youth climate strikes are occurring due to some sort of juvenile need to fit in.
Elsewhere, Hannity has claimed that climate action is all a ruse with the end goal of “getting rid of capitalism.” Tucker Carlson tried to tell Bill Nye that the cause of global warming is “an open question, not a settled question.” Pirro has claimed that “climate change is a natural progression of earth’s seasons over millions of years.” The list goes on.
Amid the morbidly comedic shotgun spray of false information and explanations of how and why all the scientists got together and decided to make up an apocalyptic crisis, there are tangible consequences of this excessive stupidity on the climate issue. Trump gets his ideas from somewhere.
When Trump claims that climate change is just a ploy by the Chinese to hurt U.S. manufacturing, this seems to be result of a direct diet of lies and misinformation. It comes from programs like Fox & Friends, Hannity, and Tucker Carlson Tonight, as well as from radio hosts such as recent Presidential Medal of Freedom recipient Rush Limbaugh (who has called COVID-19 a Chinese scam no more serious than the common cold, and has claimed himself “an expert in debunking this whole leftist political argument of manmade climate change”). Sure, it’s easy to laugh at these individuals, and even easier to refute their nonsensical babbling, but all the while they continue to drive us further and further into the pit of despair.
While many of these overpaid idiots have finally started to realize that COVID-19 is worth taking seriously, this has yet to happen with climate change. Perhaps a crisis like this one will help reacquaint us with our own mortality. Likely not. Yet the global effort mounting against COVID-19 resembles what is needed with the climate crisis. The issue is the talking heads seem unlikely to wake us up in time to be able to do anything about it.