Pumpkin contest flickr.com neonmarg creative commons licenseThese days, with attitudes about climate change divided sharply along party lines, it may be no surprise that Fox News, the network beloved by conservatives, has operated for at least a year under an institutional policy to “cast doubt on climate science.”

Yep. Fair and balanced just got a little more slanted. Or, more accurately, whatever skepticism you had about Fox News presenting unbiased journalism—even in their straight news programming—has been reinforced. The smoking gun is an internal memo from a top managing editor that explicitly instructs reporters to call climate science into question immediately following any reporting on climate-related news.

Here’s the story, as reported by Media Matters, a media watchdog:

  • In the midst of global climate change talks last December, a top Fox News official sent an email questioning the “veracity of climate change data” and ordering the network’s journalists 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.”

    The directive, sent by Fox News Washington managing editor Bill Sammon, was issued less than 15 minutes after Fox correspondent Wendell Goler accurately reported on-air that the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization announced that 2000-2009 was “on track to be the warmest [decade] on record.”

    It’s not really worth going into it further. But it does help me understand at least one major factor causing the issue of global warming to be so politically divisive. They’re by no means alone, but Fox has helped sow the seeds of doubt—and has tended them in its powerful television hot house, growing doubt of unnatural size, and repositioning global warming as a theory rather than scientific fact in many Americans’ minds.

    Image courtesy: neonmarg on Flickr.com, under a Creative Commons license.