Rupert Murdoch’s Australia news outlets to ease their climate denial

SYDNEY, Australia – After years of casting doubts on climate change and attacking politicians who support corrective action, Rupert Murdoch’s media outlets in his native Australia are planning an editorial campaign next month that calls for a carbon-neutral future. is advocating.

Depending on its content, the project, described by News Corp executives to Mr Murdoch on Monday, could be a success that provides political cover for Australia’s conservative government refusing to set ambitious emissions targets. If sustained, it could also put pressure on Fox News and other Murdoch-owned outlets in the United States and Britain that have been hostile to climate science.

But critics, including scientists who have been targets of News Corp’s climate war, warn that the effort may be little more than window dressing that sustains decades of damage.

Director of the Earth System Science Center at Pennsylvania State University, Michael E. Mann said, “Give me a skeptical color.” “Unless Rupert Murdoch and News Corp shut down their attack dogs at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, who continue to promote climate change disinformation on a daily basis, these are hollow promises that are needed to rehabilitate the public image. should be seen as a desperate move for a major climate villain.”

As reported broadly by News Corp executives, the project will include features and editorials from the company’s influential newspapers as well as its 24-hour news channel Sky News. They will seek a way to reach net-zero emissions by 2050 – a goal set by dozens of countries, that scientific study The show is instrumental in deciphering some of the most devastating effects of global warming.

News Corp executives in Australia have said little publicly about their plans, which were previously reported by Sydney Morning Herald. Spokesmen for News Corp and Rupert Murdoch did not respond to emailed requests for comment.

Sky News chief executive Paul Whitaker appears in the Australian Senate on Monday to answer questions at a public hearing about misinformation in the media. They underestimated the perceived shift in climate change priorities.

“I wouldn’t describe it as a campaign,” he said. “I would describe it, in the context of Sky News, as an exploration of very complex issues.”

The most extreme of Sky News Corp’s assets. Last month, YouTube Suspended Conservative news channel for a week for violating the platform’s coronavirus misinformation policy. two years ago, one of its hosts label climate change “A fraudulent and dangerous cult” that was “motivated by dishonest and sinister interests.”

In many of the company’s newspapers, where solid journalism often sits alongside unrelenting ideology in articles that often don’t have the “opinion” label, the editorial project has been widely discussed with a sense of relief over the past few weeks. Has been.

A senior News Corp. newspaper employee, who requested anonymity because he was not allowed to describe internal decision-making, said the editorial effort reflects a growing recognition by the company that the world is in a stronger stance on climate change. is gone.

He said the project had been in development for months, with various political and business figures having been informed in advance, a sign that the move toward supporting net-zero emissions put surprising conservative allies at risk.

Coordinated campaigns are not uncommon for News Corp, which is a major commercial provider of news in Australia with newspapers in major cities and regional regions. Many outlets are currently pushing for a rapid advance in COVID-19 vaccination.

In the case of global warming, the campaign will begin just before a new round of international climate talks in Scotland.

Time ignited hope and cynicism between the two Critics of News Corp’s climate coverage.

“If this is real, it could provide a significant boost to the momentum needed for the Glasgow summit in November,” said Joel Gergis, a climate scientist at the Australian National University.

Richie Merzian, climate and energy program director at the Australia Institute, a progressive research organization, said News Corp should call for immediate action to reduce emissions.

“In fact, they are moving from an F to a D student here,” he said. “The real risk is that News Corp. is delaying climate action with irresponsible solutions and irresponsible long-term goals, from denying climate change. Net zero is almost useless by 2050 if it is not implemented, if it has no short-term ambitions and if there is no commitment to prevent the opening of new coal mines and new gas fields. “

Professor Mann, whose book “The New Climate War” looks closely at what he calls “passivists” – polluters, politicians and media outlets who have opposed climate action – said News Corp. That denial in the face of increasingly harsh climate events, particularly the devastating fires of 2019-20 in Australia, was no longer valid.

“They have turned to other tactics – delay, distraction, deflection, splitting, etc. – in their attempt to maintain the fossil fuel status quo,” he said by email. “Focusing on the 2050 goal, three decades away, is so much down the road that it’s largely pointless. It allows cynics to appeal to the promises of new technology (carbon capture, geoengineering, etc.) , which has been business-as-usual as a crutch for burning fossil fuels decades down the road.”

Malcolm Turnbull, a former Australian prime minister who was frequently attacked by News Corp and topped in an intrapartisan dispute over climate policy in 2018, also warned News Corp had a long track record of Couldn’t erase a few weeks of coverage.

News Corp’s new commitment, he said, should only be trusted if the company’s journalists and editors stop beating up climate action supporters and stop protecting conservative members of parliament who have opposed climate policy.

“That right-wing populist climate-denial of the Coalition is very influential, and the foundation is News Corp Media,” Mr. Turnbull said in an interview. “That’s where they live and thrive. If there is a change there, it will be significant.”

But, he added, “I won’t give him credit for anything he hasn’t done yet.”

Yan Zhuang contributed reporting from Melbourne, Australia.

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