On Monday, someone who just watched Fox News wouldn’t know that a U.N. panel’s report said that “breakdown of food systems” and “violent conflict” are likely impacts of even low levels of climate change over the next 100 years. But MSNBC’s coverage gave a thorough look at the risks detailed in the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change impacts, as well as the woeful state of efforts to mitigate its effects or cut carbon.
The day the report came out, CNN devoted one minute and eight seconds to two segments giving a basic review of its contents, MSNBC spent 19 minutes and 49 seconds covering it in depth over a total of five segments, and Fox News dedicated five minutes, mostly to attacking the idea of climate change or of studying it at all.
If a viewer was watching Fox, they learned that the main issue is whether it’s “alright for you to exhale without paying tax to the United Nations,” as Claudia Rosett of the neoconservative Foundation for Defense of Democracies told Neil Cavuto on his show. The short segment mocked the idea of the U.N. paying any attention at all to climate change as long as there are other issues like Russia and Korea to address. Neither Rosett nor Cavuto offered any possible course of action the U.N. could take on any issue, instead throwing out recommendations like “doing things to stop North Korea.” Both indicated they thought the U.N. would somehow profit from people knowing about climate change. At no point did they discuss the contents of the U.N. report or show any signs they were familiar with it.
In Fox News’ other segment, Bill O’Reilly accused climate change activists of wanting to “destroy [the] economy or allow villains like Putin to blackmail with his fossil fuels” based on a “phantom global warming theory” when “no one knows whether it’s true.” Again, he did not seem familiar with the contents of the report, which detailed already-occurring effects of climate change like food insecurity, along with catastrophic future impacts like increased violent conflict, which will occur even under conservative estimates of warming. O’Reilly did finish with an appeal to support clean technology like Tesla’s electric car, but only in the interest of improving air quality.
CNN’s segments highlighted the main points of the IPCC report, but were so fleeting as to have hardly registered with viewers. While Jake Tapper mentioned that if nothing was done, “all of human civilization could be at risk,” and that “it’s already too late to reverse some of the global warming-related changes to coral reefs and Arctic sea ice,” he then moved on after a total of 48 seconds.
MSNBC, meanwhile, featured several longer looks at the implications of the IPCC report and the actions needed to address the concerns it raised. Rachel Maddow’s segment detailed just the sort of willful ignorance Fox News demonstrated in refusing to acknowledge research they disagree with, and to mock or discourage the very idea of conducting that research. It’s worth watching in full: