On August 12, FoxNation.com republished portions of a post by The Gateway Pundit headlined, “Letter to Editor PREDICTED COLORADO EPA SPILL One Week Before Catastrophe So EPA Could Secure Control of Area.” Fox Nation highlighted the portion of the Gateway Pundit post in which author Jim Hoft wrote: “The letter detailed verbatim, how EPA officials would foul up the Animas River on purpose in order to secure superfund money. If the Gold King mine was declared a superfund site it would essentially kill future development for the mining industry in the area. The Obama EPA is vehemently opposed to mining and development.”
Examiner.com also cited the letter in an August 12 post claiming “[e]vidence suggests that the EPA’s Animas wastewater spill was purposeful for gaining Superfund money.” The conspiratorial letter was also republished inThe Wall Street Journal, although The Journal described the spill as an “accident” and only cited the letter to suggest further EPA action “may make the situation worse.”
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The science deniers at Fox News have spent years dismissing the claims of environmentalists on matters relating to everything from water and air quality, to endangered species, to clean energy, to climate change. The network has vigorously denounced advocates for reform as propagating hoaxes or having ulterior financial motives. And always at the top of their list of evildoers is the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
Pretty much every Republican presidential candidate has called for some measure of interference with the EPA’s mandate, up to and including abolishing the agency that began with an executive order by Republican president Richard Nixon.
In Colorado last week an EPA crew accidentally breached a debris dam that resulted in a massive flow of arsenic, lead, and other toxins into the Animas River. The crew had been working to repair leaks that were already leaching toxins into the river. It was an unfortunate accident that occurred during a commendable effort to restore the local ecosystem.
However, on Fox News this became a villainous atrocity by pernicious characters who aspire to deliberately destroy America. They have had numerous stories that explicitly and disparagingly cite the EPA’s responsibility for the spill as if it were intentional. Furthermore, they go out of their way to report the outrage of the local victims. What’s interesting about that editorial spin is that they never do the same when it is a corporation that was responsible.
For instance, when a pipeline burst near Williston, North Dakota, Fox didn’t once address the “anger” it may have caused. Instead, they interviewed the pipeline’s owner who gave assurances that everything would be fine. Fox covered another incident in West Virginia the same way. In North Carolina, toxic sludge from a coal ash dump polluted the Dan River, which was already contaminated from a previous spill. There, Fox quoted a Duke Energy spokesperson who downplayed the incident saying that “no immediate action was necessary.”
In story after story Fox declined to criticize the guilty energy companies whose greed created environmental nightmares. They pointedly neglected to advocate for penalties or reform. But in this story, where the EPA is the culprit, Fox repeats their name with noticeable sneers and insists that the agency needs to be reigned in. It is the most disingenuous, hypocritical, and self-serving expression of environmentalism imaginable.
Surely the events that led to the EPA crew’s accident should be investigated and all efforts to prevent further incidents should be taken. But Fox News obviously doesn’t care about that. They only care about slandering a government entity that was trying to improve an already harmful situation. As opposed to the energy companies whose accidents occur while they are trying to line their pockets.
And it should not be forgotten that many of those same polluting energy companies are advertisers on Fox News and other Fox media outlets. So as the corporations profit from their dirty enterprise, Fox News profits right along with them. Indeed, Fox has a financial incentive to bury bad news about their advertisers and to exaggerate accusations against their foes at the EPA.
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By now you’re probably familiar with Koch-funded science denial. Now meet Coke-funded science denial.
Fox News host Shepard Smith compared the news that Coca-Cola is funding scientists who dispute the link between caloric intake and obesity to the fossil fuel industry money behind climate change deniers, in stark contrast with how right-wing media figures reacted.
The New York Times recently revealed how Coca-Cola is behind a new organization called the Global Energy Balance Network that is promoting exercise as “a solution to chronic disease and obesity while remaining largely silent on the role of food and nutrition.” The group’s vice president, Steven N. Blair, said in a video announcing the organization: “Most of the focus in the popular media and in the scientific press is … blaming fast food, blaming sugary drinks, and so on [for obesity]. And there’s really virtually no compelling evidence that in fact is the cause.”
But the Times reported that health experts “say this message is misleading and part of an effort by Coke to deflect criticism about the role sugary drinks have played in the spread of obesity and Type 2 diabetes.” The experts “contend that the company is using its new group to convince the public that physical activity can offset a bad diet despite scientific evidence that exercise has only minimal impact on weight compared with what people consume.” Global nutrition professor Barry M. Popkin told the Times that “Coke’s support of prominent health researchers was reminiscent of tactics used by the tobacco industry, which enlisted experts to become ‘merchants of doubt’ about the health hazards of smoking.”
On the August 10 edition of Fox News’ Shepard Smith Reporting, anchor Smith offered a similar analogy — and extended it even further to climate change denial. Smith said the story “reminds you of exactly what the tobacco industry did back in day, and more recently, it also reminds you of what the climate deniers — the climate change deniers — are doing as well.”
However, Fox contributor Lisa “Kennedy” Montgomery countered with rhetoric more in line with that of Fox News, claiming that “there’s so much adulterated science out there that people are no longer going to trust the scientific method at all,” and that it’s “hard to figure out … what is emotional rhetoric and what is fact” on climate change. (The facts undoubtedly show that climate change is real and that humans are causing it.)
And Rush Limbaugh came to the complete opposite conclusion as Smith. On the August 10 edition of his radio show, Limbaugh ranted that the Times‘ Coca-Cola story “undermine[s] the whole notion of a scientific consensus,” because it “can be bought and paid for”:
LIMBAUGH: If Coca-Cola can find scientists and get an opinion that they want from by paying them, do you think the same thing could happen to climate change scientists and a “consensus” of them? Do you think somebody could come along and offer those scientists enough money? I mean, the left, if anybody’s paying attention, is writing their own obituary in this stuff.
They’re undermining the whole notion of a scientific consensus. Now it can be bought and paid for by Coca-Cola.
The tobacco industry has used deceitful tactics for decades to deny and cast doubt upon the scientifically proven health impacts of cigarettes, and the fossil fuel industry has employed the same tactics on climate change. Now, the Coke-funded scientists agreeing with the industry’s bottom line have been roundly criticized by independent scientists and health experts. Is Coke the new flavor of industry-funded science denial?
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FOR THE RECORD:
It was back on Friday that Donald Trump took a perverse swipe at Fox News debate moderator Megyn Kelly saying that“You could see there was blood coming out of her eyes, blood coming out of her — wherever”
It’s now Sunday morning and Fox News has not reported on the comment once. It’s complete radio silence. This is a particularly egregious omission considering that Fox did report that Trump was uninvited to the RedState conference sponsored by notorious misogynist Erick Erickson, whose stated reason for the snub was the “blood” comment. So Fox mentioned the revoked invitation, but not the reason.
Furthermore, Trump was interviewed by phone on four of the five Sunday morning news programs. The one exception was Fox News Sunday. They declined because they insisted that the interview be in-studio. So Fox went Trumpless, while NBC’s Meet The Press hosted Trump who had previously said that “Sleep eyes @ChuckTodd is killing Meet The Press. Isn’t he pathetic? Love watching him fail!” In the MTP segment Trump defended his numerous attacks on the appearance of women by saying that “It’s very hard for them to attack me on looks, because I’m so good looking” And so delusional. Even if it were true it doesn’t excuse his reprehensible behavior.
Finally, on Fox’s media analysis program, MediaBuzz, host Howard Kurtz didn’t even discuss the “blood” comment. He played the clip from CNN then led the discussion away from it to Kelly’s debate questions. He explained that his interview with Kelly took place before Trump made the comment, however, his introduction didn’t. He opened the segment saying “I spoke with the host of The Kelly Friday on Friday night. This was an hour before Donald Trump made his harshest and most personal comments about her.” So Kurtz acknowledged that the remarks were harsh and personal, but never addressed them in the interview segment or the panel discussion that followed.
Apparently the whole topic makes Fox News very nervous. They can’t be trying to hide it because it’s all everybody else is talking about. They can’t be trying to protect Kelly because the best way to do that would be to make clear what Trump said. So what are they trying to hide?
Addendum: Another notably absent figure is Grizzly Mama and “real” feminist, Sarah Palin. She has not said a single word on this subject. In fact, she hasn’t tweeted or posted anything on her Facebook page since the debate. Way to stand up for women, and former colleagues, Sarah.
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