This really probably won't come as much of a surprise, but Media Matters is reporting that in the middle of the COP15 climate talks in 2009, a Fox News official ordered that its journalists "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 directive came within minutes of one of Fox News' journalists accurately reporting that the World Meteorological Organization saying that 2000-2009 was on track to be the warmest decade on record (video above). The email, coming from Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, frames the directive in the context of journalistic objectivity. "It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies," Sammon advised.
Which is true to a degree. But, without going into an entire essay on journalistic ethics, is it really objective to mention the views of climate skeptics with equal weight to those of the 97% of climate scientists who say climate change is indeed happening and human activity is the most likely cause (both at the time of Sammon's email, just after the now-debunked 'Climategate' emails were released, and now)?
To do that is just an example of using journalistic balance to avoid saying what you believe to be the truth. It's an old journalistic trick to avoid taking a stand--and to be fair, incidents of it take place on green blogs, and mainstream news outlets on the other side of the political spectrum from Fox News as well.
Lest you think this behavior is just fair and balanced journalistic practice on Sammon's part, or perhaps a one-off incident, Media Matters also uncovered a directive Sammon sent at the height of the debate about healthcare reform, ordering reporters to avoid using the term "public option" and instead use "government option"--something which Republican pollsters noted would help turn opinion against any restructuring of the US' healthcare system.
Sources familiar with the situation in Fox's Washington bureau have told Media Matters that Sammon uses his position as managing editor to "slant" Fox's supposedly neutral news coverage to the right. Sammon's "government option" email is the clearest evidence yet that Sammon is aggressively pushing Fox's reporting to the right -- in this case by issuing written orders to his staff.
Want a more complete breakdown of Fox News' faux-objectivity? Read the original Media Matters piece: FOXLEAKS: Fox boss ordered staff to cast doubt on climate science
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More on Global Climate Change:
97% of Scientists Still Agree: Man is Causing Climate Change
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