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Fri, 2011-07-22 11:13Emma Pullman
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Could News Corp. Double Agent Neil Wallis Be Behind Climategate Hacking?

As if this week’s Rupert Murdoch Phone-Hacking Scandal wasn’t enough, it now appears that the University of East Anglia CRU email hacking scandal (a.k.a. Climategate) might actually be the work of the same News Corp henchman who helped to feed insider information from a Scotland Yard police investigation directly to Murdoch’s News Corp.

Neil Wallis, one of the key figures in the hacking of the phones, voicemails and electronic communications of anywhere from 4,000 to over 12,000 people, was essentially a double agent working by day as Executive Director of News of the World, and simultaneously as a public relations consultant during the police investigation into the scandal. Wallis conveniently reported back to News Corp on Scotland Yard’s investigation. 

While Murdoch’s henchmen were getting the skinny on the police investigation, the police were convincing other news organizations not to cover the story.

After the November 2009 hacking of the computer server at the Climatic Research Unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia, the victimized climate science unit sought public relations guidance to help fight back against allegations of scientific misconduct.  

Guess who they hired - Neil Wallis and his PR firm Outside Organisation.

Wed, 2011-07-20 07:53Chris Mooney
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Light Bulb Madness: A New Case Study in Right Wing Misinformation

The examples of conservative misinformation—devoutly believed by followers, repeatedly asserted by ideological leaders and media outlets—are growing too numerous to count. I seriously cannot keep track any longer, and this is an area where I specialize.

A new one has cropped up: Call it light bulb madness. My sometime co-blogger Jon Winsor, FrumForum, and Joe Romm/Media Matters have all you want to know about it. Brief summary: Many conservatives, and conservative media outlets (Rush Limbaugh, Fox News) are claiming that a 2007 law about to take effect banned incandescent light bulbs, and thus rammed compact-fluorescents down our throats.

It’s the kind of cry virtually assured to make individualist-slash-free market conservatives angry: How dare the government  touch my freedoms? And it has even led to legislation to reverse the “ban,” sponsored by Texas’s Joe Barton.

Trouble is, there is no “ban.”

Wed, 2011-06-29 06:19Chris Mooney
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When Facts Don’t Matter: Proving The Problem With Fox News

My two posts about Fox News and misinformation are probably the most popular items I’ve contributed here. They’ve been widely linked, Tweeted and Facebooked hundreds of times, and viewed well over ten thousand times. That’s because they perform a simple task that, at least as far as I had seen when I wrote the first one, hadn’t been done elsewhere: They list studies (1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) showing that Fox News viewers are the most misinformed about an array of factual—but politicized—issues.

In these posts, I’ve tried to be as dispassionate as one can be on such a matter. I’ve repeatedly said that the studies don’t prove that Fox causes people to be misinformed; they just show a correlation, but the causal arrow could run in either direction (or both). I’ve also said that there may well be other studies out there than the 6 that I’ve found; and there may even be studies out there showing some cases where Fox News viewers are not the most misinformed. Indeed, I could design such a study myself–though it would have to be politically skewed by only asking about topics where liberals and Democrats are likely to be misinformed.

It is interesting, though, that no contrary studies have yet been produced.

Wed, 2011-06-22 05:37Chris Mooney
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Jon Stewart 1, Politifact 0: Fox News Viewers Are The Most Misinformed

I have a lot of respect for political fact checking sites. I think they play a critical role, especially in our misinformation-saturated political and media environment.

However, sometimes these sites fall for the allure of phony bipartisanship. In other words, in an environment in which conservatives are more inaccurate and more misinformed about science and basic policy facts, the “fact checkers” nevertheless feel unduly compelled to correct “liberal” errors too—which is fine, as long as they are really errors.

But sometimes they aren’t. A case in point is Politifact’s recent and deeply misguided attempt to correct Jon Stewart on the topic of…misinformation and Fox News. This is a subject on which we’ve developed some expertise here…my recent post on studies showing that Fox News viewers are more misinformed, on an array of issues, is the most comprehensive such collection that I’m aware of, at least when it comes to public opinion surveys detecting statistical correlations between being misinformed about contested facts and Fox News viewership. I’ve repeatedly asked whether anyone knows of additional studies—including contradictory studies—but none have yet been cited.

Stewart, very much in the vein of my prior post, went on the air with Fox’s Chris Wallace and stated,

“Who are the most consistently misinformed media viewers? The most consistently misinformed? Fox, Fox viewers, consistently, every poll.”

My research, and my recent post, most emphatically supports this statement.

Mon, 2011-06-20 10:37Chris Mooney
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The Fox News Effect: Sea Level Edition

Climate scientists–and other scientists–are always improving and updating their methods. That’s how science works. And it’s a very good and honorable thing–or at least, it is until conservatives catch on to some particular methodological change and argue that it’s political, rather than part of the normal course of scientific events.

And until Fox News–whose viewers are far less likely to accept climate science, as well as various other well known facts–joins in.

In the latest case, a group at the University of Colorado at Boulder added a new correction to their estimates of global sea level rise. What they did is pretty technical, but before going further I’ll have to briefly explain it—more details can be found here.

Wed, 2011-05-18 10:29Chris Mooney
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The Fox News "Effect": A Few References

It is no secret that many in the climate science world are critical of Fox News. The prevailing view seems to be that the conservative network, although claiming to be “fair and balanced,” is in fact quite biased in its treatment of this and other issues.

The opinion isn’t without foundation. It’s not just Fox’s coverage itself (see image at left, courtesy of Media Matters): Last year, Media Matters exposed an internal email from Washington bureau chief Bill Sammon, commenting on the network’s coverage of global warming and seeming to demand a misleading treatment of the issue. The email told reporters they should

…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. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.

Given that warming is indeed a fact, it’s little wonder that when it was released, this email drew a lot of attention.

Clearly, there’s much concern about Fox coverage. But many critics of the network seem unaware of what may be their best argument:

Fri, 2011-02-11 14:11Josh Nelson
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Memo to Fox News: Science and Politics Don’t Mix

This piece was co-written by Ryan Koronowski, Alliance for Climate Protection Research Director and Josh Nelson, Alliance for Climate Protection Director of Online Communications and New Media.

Former oil and energy trader Eric Bolling, a financial news personality on Fox News, often gets on television to talk about climate change. On Tuesday, Media Matters published research on Bolling’s program and uncovered a history of claims that are demonstrably false:

Bolling Hosted Skeptic To Claim “There Is No Global Warming.” Bolling hosted Brian Sussman, radio host and author of Climategate: A Veteran Meteorologist Exposes The Global Warming Scam, who asserted that “there is no global warming.” Sussman claimed that the “hottest decade in history was the 1930s.”

Bolling: “I think We Warm And We Cool. It’s The Globe.” Discussing a Rasmussen poll asking respondents “how likely is it that some scientists have falsified research data,” Bolling stated: “Listen, you know where I stand on this. I’m not – I think we warm and we cool. It’s the globe.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/4/09]

Bolling Falsely Suggested Snow Disproves Global Warming. On Fox & Friends, referring to the 2010 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Bolling stated: “I think, a couple of years ago, they were in Washington. It was snowed out. The global warming issue wasn’t, I guess, a factor there. But they solved that problem going to Cancun.” [Fox News, Fox & Friends, 12/9/09]

Mon, 2011-01-10 12:11Chris Mooney
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Watching Fox News Can Be Hazardous to Your Facts

In mid December, you may recall, Media Matters exposed an email from Fox News editor Bill Sammon instructing his reporters 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.” It was no surprise that Fox was guilty of misrepresenting the science on climate change—anyone who has watched the channel cover the subject has seen this—but it was nevertheless appalling to find the goal so blatantly stated.

But there’s been less discussion of a finding that closely accompanied this revelation. In a survey late last year, Stanford political psychologist Jon Krosnick found that more frequent Fox viewers were significantly less likely to trust climate science and climate scientists than those who don’t watch the channel, or who watch it less.

Wed, 2009-11-25 09:50Ross Gelbspan
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Fox News Touts New Film that Trashes "An Inconvenient Truth"

Fox News is touting a new film which challenges the content of Al Gore’s “An Inconvenient Truth.” The film, which implies Gore’s film is based on “faith,” follows up on an action recommendation contained in an internal coal industry disinformation memo of several years ago.

Mon, 2009-08-03 20:50Peter Sinclair
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Creepy at the EP(a)

In june of 2009, a story surfaced about the alleged suppression by the US EPA of information related to climate change.  The source of the information was reported to be one Dr.  Alan Carlin,  who, although a real EPA analyst,   was in fact, an economist, not a scientist.     

Distortions of the story, from the usual sources, began almost immediately. 

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