It's probably not the first time Rupert Murdoch has been on a list with Charles Manson and Osama bin Laden. Turns out that media mogul/plutocrat Murdoch's company, News Corporation, is deeply and explicitly committed to reducing its carbon footprint, combating global warming, and encouraging its audiences to do the same. You know, except for the 63 million people who get their information from its noisiest product, Fox News.
Murdoch's stated position is that climate change is serious, and that the company's energy initiative is a good start but public outreach is critical: "We can set an example, and we can reach our audiences. Our audience's carbon footprint is 10,000 times bigger than ours. That's the carbon footprint we want to conquer." That's what he said when he announced New Corp.'s energy initiative in 2007. In the four years since, the energy initiative has zeroed out News Corp.'s carbon footprint and saved the company millions.
So how's the public outreach part going? Well, Fox News' stated position, as delivered in a leaked memo from managing editor Bill Sammon: "[Journalists 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." Fox's most popular hosts say things like "The debate's over. There's no global warming." And studies have shown that people swallow this line: One study said that 60 percent of people who watch Fox News almost daily believe that scientists don't agree climate change is occurring, compared with 30 percent of those who never watch it. Plus, there was this whole thing. So … I'm gonna say not so good?
News Corp. actually underrepresents the reach of Fox News when talking to environmentally-conscious audiences, according to an extensive report by Media Matters. Katie Mandes of the Pew Center — a partner on News Corp.'s energy initiative — called out initiative director Liba Rubenstein on the potential hypocrisy of touting emissions reductions while misleading the country about climate change. Rubenstein shrugged it off, saying that Fox reaches only "a few million" people. That's bull. Pew's own study found that 63 million people watch Fox News 2 to 3 times a week or more.
News Corp. makes good money off this doublespeak. The company's saved millions by reducing emissions, and advertisers love a facade of responsibility. That's kind of the whole idea. But the corporation's partners and advertisers could be starting to wise up, Media Matters says. Paying lip service to environmental savvy while one of your big projects involves lying outright about climate change — that's a position that is, ironically, not that sustainable. It's like trying to feed a baby with one hand while holding a slavering wolverine in the other: Eventually, the ladies are going to stop cooing over your daddying skills.