Fox News is once again trying its hand at straight-up climate change denial, because it ain't a real news network and nobody much cares if its hosts lie their well-paid asses off in ways that damage the country, the planet, or their own viewers' chance of dodging a deadly illness or two. But were they always this bad at it?
It really does feel like the network is sinking to new lows, just in terms of raw laziness and pointless spite. Or maybe once you've decided to make B-tier conspiracy clowns the new face of your network, you're just bound for those new lows—and there's nothing anyone can do about it.
On Fox News' "The Five," a daily show in which five talking heads sit around having opinions and being generally unpleasant in sort of a "five relatives waiting for your mom to finish cooking the turkey" sort of way, the Fivers were tasked with responding to President Joe Biden's quite accurate assertion that climate change means we're seeing more and worse natural disasters of late. The reason Fox bobbleheads would feel the need to turn that anodyne statement into the latest outrage is, as always, mysterious, but it boils down to conservatism's contempt for book-learning in general, and for science specifically.
One of the five, however, was Jesse Watters, the host chosen to replace Tucker Carlson after the white nationalist conspiracy crank got too big for his britches and the Murdochs decided to show him who's boss. And Jesse Watters got the gig by being ... not a smart person.
So it is a pyramid scheme, climate change. If you think about - - you have the media, the politicians, and the academics at the top, and then at the bottom, you have all of us, the taxpayers. So academics realized early on that the more papers they put out saying that climate change was caused by humans and the world was going to blow up in two years if we don't do something about it, they were going to get more grant money from the politicians.
And so, the media takes these research papers and then they report them and then they get big ratings because everybody gets scared and everybody gets nervous, and then the politicians scare the heck out of you and said, "Get rid of big oil, we need to go green,” and then they throw all of our money around at all of their donors and all of their investors.
Look, I think we're all used to hollow-headed Fox News hosts denying climate change at this point. I'm a little more surprised that Fox News doesn't appear to know what a "pyramid scheme" is.
Conservatives, not generally being members of scientific institutions because of the whole hatred for book-learning thing, have always had some truly amazing notions of what scientific grant-hunting looks like, with imagined scenes of jewelry-bedazzled Science Pimps walking into congressional offices to score some sweet, sweet brine shrimp research cash from Matt Gaetz or Dennis Hastert, and there is just no convincing these people that it ain't that.
The notion that "politicians" give two craps about "academics" (much less want to be seen with any of them) is one thing, but the supposition that the "academics" are in league with the media? Buddy? Pal? You is the media. When "the media" wants a big scoop with big ratings, how many of them book f--king scientists on their airwaves?
Yeah, that's it. The "media" is scooping up big ratings by talking about the latest research papers. That's why network hosts hold big, raucous public debates in which a half-dozen college professors stand behind podiums and insult each other. That's why Fox News and the other networks are just rockin' with scientists saying things, rather than flooded with a sea of failed politicians and/or professional lobbyists called in by the networks to argue interminably at each other.
Pyramid scheme, he calls it. Lord.
Never let it be said that Jesse Watters has the worst take on anything, though, because if you say that, then you have to contend with the existence of fellow Fox talking head Jeanine Pirro. Pirro is best described as "what if a college sophomore's spring break hangover became a real person" and can always, always be counted on to produce premium moments of double-yoo-tee -eff.
What's so fascinating about this is one of the first hurricanes reported I think was in the 1400s. Now I would venture a guess that had nothing to do with fossil fuels, okay? But they're certainly convinced that we've got something to do with all of this.
Wait ... what? There was a hurricane reported in the 1400s so climate change ain't real? Listen, you walking tequila bottle, I'm willing to put up with a lot. But if you're going to drop a line like that, then I'm going to have to insist you do an entire three-part special on this theory that because Columbus sailed the ocean blue and ran into a storm or two that means carbon dioxide isn't real.
Let's just think about this: Somehow, somewhere, Jeanine Pirro found out that "one of the first hurricanes" was reported in the 1400s, and she latched onto that as evidence that climate change now isn't happening? Her language even implies that she thinks maybe hurricanes didn't exist before European explorers ran into the first one, which is a hell of a theory and not one I'd put past anyone on a Fox News set.
Yeah, uh, we're gonna give this one to you, Judge Jaegermeister. Hurricanes did exist back in the 1400s. What didn't exist in the 1400s, however: 100-degree ocean waters available to boost their strength, and a more acidic ocean that's wiped out over half of the coral reefs that existed on the planet the day Jeanine Pirro was born.
Forget the 1400s: Our oceans now have different chemistry than they did when “I Love Lucy” first aired. For the Watters and Pirros in the crowd, let's clarify: That's bad!
There's no point in arguing any of this, of course, because Fox News isn't seriously arguing any of it in the first place. "Climate change is a pyramid scheme in which scientists and the media are trying to trick you and get big ratings" is not an argument. "I once saw a hurricane back in 14-dickity-two" is not an argument. Nobody's even trying; they’re just spewing random words to get through a segment without upsetting the Buford T. Flagwavers tuning in to Fox to get their outrage fix.
But it feels like Fox News’ arguments are actually getting worse with each passing month. Not just less serious, but more overtly ridiculous. More intentionally nonsensical.
Maybe that's because they've realized they just don't have to try—not with an audience already attuned to nibble up whatever Fox is willing to sprinkle into their little goldfish bowls. But I think it's because Fox News hosts are in fact actively getting, well ... stupider.
Maybe those two things are the same dynamic and maybe they're not, but I don't think any of us are imagining this.
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