Fox News sent Geraldo Rivera all the way to Paris this week to cover the latest global climate conference in which President Obama and other world leaders will attempt to reach an agreement to reduce carbon emissions and slow the rate of catastrophic warming across the world.
But the first thing Rivera’s colleagues did when he got there was remind him that, actually, the Earth’s temperature has “gone down” in recent years.
“We're not going to argue about climate change, although we do know that over the last couple of decades, you know, for the most part the, uh, the temperature, for the most part has stabilized or gone down a little bit,” Fox & Friends co-host Steve Doocy told Rivera via satellite Monday morning.
With that “fact” as a baseline premise, Doocy wanted to know why Obama was wasting his time when just 3 percent of Americans view climate change as the “most important issue facing the country today,” according to poll conducted by Fox News.
“Steve, let me gently disagree, and you know I love you slightly,” Rivera said, pushing back perhaps as forcefully as he could on blatant misinformation. “This is 2015, the hottest year on record. We’ve had nine out of ten hottest years since the year 2000, in this century.”
“The planet is getting warmer, the question is, what’s responsible?” Rivera continued as Doocy proceeded to interrupt him with continued claims that the rate of warming has “slowed significantly” during the 21st century. “It's hard to be in a smoggy day in Beijing and not think that man is causing the weather to change,” Rivera added.
Before Rivera could say much more on the legitimacy of climate science, Elisabeth Hasselbeck changed the subject to focus on the demonstrators who reportedly threw candles at police officers in Paris over the weekend.
On this issue, they could all agree that those actions were “despicable,” and as the conversation shifted toward violent extremism, Rivera agreed that security from terrorism will “have to be dealt with before we deal with whether or not it's getting warmer or colder outside.”
Throughout the morning, Fox News continued to downplay the threat of anthropogenic climate change, especially when compared to terrorism.
Daytime news anchor Bill Hemmer subtly mocked the idea that Obama would go to Paris and argue that climate change, not ISIS, is a danger to our national security. He then cited record snowfall this year in Fairbanks, Alaska, as evidence that global warming is not a serious issue.
Next up was frequent Fox guest John Sununu, who made his critique of Obama and the climate talks more explicit.
“The world is on fire from terrorism and acts of violence and war,” the New Hampshire Republican operative warned. “And this president thinks the most important thing he can do is fly to Paris and talk about climate change, which a lot of people are beginning to find out may be the result of folks diddling with the temperature data.”
With all of these comments—and more sure to come when Fox’s primetime opinionators hit the airwaves Monday night—the cable news network is developing a narrative: The world should stop wasting its time on the potential long-term climate change problem when terrorists are trying to kill us right now. The unintended coincidence that the long-planned meetings are being held in Paris, which was attacked just over two weeks ago, only adds oxygen to this fire.
It’s a juxtaposition from which Obama did not shy away during his opening remarks at conference. After thanking the French for moving forward with the summit even after the Nov. 13 attacks, Obama called the meetings “an act of defiance that proves nothing will deter us from building the future we want for our children.”
“What greater rejection of those who would tear down our world than marshalling our best efforts to save it,” the president said.
According to Fox News and top-polling Republican candidates, climate change is at worst a left-wing conspiracy and at best a forgone conclusion about which there is nothing to be done. And when ISIS rules the news cycle, it is a lot easier to focus on the people being killed today than it is on the scientifically predicted disasters that could befall the world if temperatures continue to rise at their current rate.
Yet even in the aftermath of this month’s attacks in Paris, climate change remains a priority for French President François Hollande and his government.
During his Fox report from Paris, Geraldo Rivera compared Hollande to Rudy Giuliani and George W. Bush after 9/11, describing him as someone who “has been transformed into one of the most vigorous, energetic, courageous world leaders” in a remarkably short period of time.
If Hollande believes that the “very fate of our planet is at stake” due to the threat of climate change, then perhaps Fox should stop trying to undermine the talks before they are even underway.