Fox News actually acknowledged that climate change is real


or the past decade, Fox News has been a haven for climate change denialism, shielding viewers from the evidence that humans are causing global temperatures to rise. Perhaps no other news outlet has done as much to harden the view, among conservatives, that global warming is a fiction.

But on Thursday, just a few minutes before President Donald Trump’s announcement that the United States would back out of a major international climate agreement, Fox did something startling and utterly off brand.

Viewers tuning in to watch the president’s speech saw anchor Shepard Smith lecturing them that climate change was not, in fact, a hoax:

Climate change is real and our activities do contribute to it.

As the New York Times reports today, scientific studies show if the world’s carbon emissions continue unchecked, atmospheric temperatures will continue to rise. The planet will not just be hotter but also suffer from rising sea levels, more powerful storms, droughts that lead to food shortages and extreme conditions.

Supporters of the accord argue it’s the right thing to do for the environment, and for people — future generations.

On the matter of climate change, Smith has been one of the few dissenting voices at Fox News. In 2014, he stirred up a minor controversy when he declared, on air: “Climate change — it is real. The science is true.”

Trump’s Paris speech Thursday fell squarely in the middle of Smith’s 3 pm show, which gave the anchor a chance to remind his conservative viewers about the scientific consensus on climate change.

Smith’s forceful acknowledgement of the science is startling only in the context of Fox News, a channel that has long been blamed for perpetuating right-wing ignorance of the science on global warming. In 2011, researchers from American, George Mason, and Yale universities found that Fox News programs overwhelmingly rejected or ignored the scientific evidence on climate change, and promoted a false sense of balance by favoring guests who denied the planet was heating up.

“Notably, Fox also provided substantially more coverage on climate change than the other two networks, thereby amplifying doubt about global warming within the cable news landscape,” the researchers write.

People who already doubt climate change are much more likely to watch Fox News, of course, but there’s evidence that Fox News, in turn, has suppressed public recognition of global warming.

Studies have shown that many climate deniers are not incorrigible, but in fact are surprisingly open to new viewpoints. A recent experiment from Yale University researchers Sander van der Linden and Anthony Leiserowitz, and George Mason’s Edward Maibach found that simply telling people “97% of climate scientists have concluded that human-caused global warming is happening” is enough to increase their confidence that climate change is real.

What’s more, both liberals and conservatives shifted their views equally after learning this fact. Even people who were avid watchers of Fox News became more receptive to the idea of man-made global warming, suggesting that at least some climate skeptics are simply misinformed, not willfully oblivious.

Part of the problem is that the American media has done a bad job of explaining climate science. According to the survey, only a quarter of liberals and only 5 percent of conservatives were aware that more than 90 percent of climate scientists believe climate change is real and that it is caused by people. The widespread “public confusion and doubt about the state of scientific agreement has limited action on global warming for decades,” the researchers argue.

As this issue becomes more and more politicized, one fear is that it will be harder to change people’s minds. Over the past 20 years, Democrats have become more confident that humans are causing global warming, while Republicans have become more skeptical. This reflects, in part, how politicians and pundits have increasingly turned climate skepticism into a matter of political identity.


Harriet Tubman will be on the front of the $20 bill, with Andrew Jackson on the back

The Treasury Department will put Harriet Tubman’s face on the $20 bill, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew announced Wednesday. But contrary to previous reports that Tubman would replace Jackson entirely, Lew told reporters that Jackson will still appear on the back of the $20 bill.

It was expected that a woman would replace Jackson on the front of the $20 bill, but it wasn’t known which woman. Tubman’s name had been floated as a likely candidate, however.

Alexander Hamilton’s face will also stay on the front of the $10 bill, Politico reported, and won’t be replaced by a woman as was previously speculated.

That idea was derailed in part by the popularity of the new Broadway musical Hamilton and many pointing out Hamilton is intricately linked to the nation’s monetary policy history. Lew also floated the idea of an odd compromise: keeping Hamilton on the front and putting a woman on the back.


We’re all Africans really”: Meryl Streep defends heading up an all-white film festival jury


Another day, another awkwardly tone-deaf comment from a Hollywood celebrity about race. Today’s foot-in-mouth moment is brought to you by walking, talking award magnet Meryl Streep, who’s set to head the international jury at the Berlin International Film Festival, running through February 21.

The festival describes itself as “a source of inspiration in the global film community” and boasts that it attracts “more than 20,000 professional visitors from 128 countries.”

This is the jury chosen to judge the films from all those countries:

What to look for in Tuesday’s New Hampshire primary


Once again, Donald Trump is poised to win an election, and Bernie Sanders appears to have some legs. Prior to the Iowa caucuses last week, I wrote that it was theoretically possible for two populist extremists (Trump and Sanders) to win in Iowa €”and then go on to win New Hampshire, too. But neither of those candidates won Iowa. Trump appeared to have a big lead going in, but couldn’t make it materialize, and Sanders was neck and neck with Hillary Clinton and held true to form, coming in only slightly shy of the lead.

As I showed previously, it would be highly unusual for a candidate to win Iowa and New Hampshire and then not go on to win the nomination — it hasn’t happened in my lifetime. And it’s not going to happen this year either.

Hillary Clinton’s declining favorability numbers, in context

30weekendss-slide-UTMI-articleLarge First, the headline number: A new Washington Post/ABC News poll shows that 53 percent of Americans have an unfavorable view of Clinton, an 8 percentage point increase since July. Her favorable rating has declined by 7 percentage points to 45 percent over the same period of time, and the split among registered voters is even worse for her, at 56 percent unfavorable to 43 percent favorable. A majority of women (51 percent) now view her unfavorably. None of that is good news for Clinton.