Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News Channel and the editorial page of his Wall Street Journal may scorn global warming as an anti-capitalist hoax perpetrated by greedy scientists, but when his media empire’s own vast butt is concerned, he’s hedging his bets. Murdoch’s Dow Jones & Co., which publishes the Journal, released a memo on Monday announcing that it is building "the largest solar power installation at a single commercial site in the U.S." And guess what: Instead of strangling free enterprise or other such rightwing claptrap, Dow Jones says, "We save the earth’s resources and save money too."
All the stats of tree-huggy goodness–more than 13,000 solar panels covering nearly 230,000 square feet to generate 4.1 megawatts of electricity from the sun, etc.–are detailed here.
But seeing News Corp., Murdoch’s overall company, earnestly brag about its environmental foresight, you would never know that Fox News is, hands down, the world’s loudest pusher of the lie that "There’s no global warming" (Hannity), that it’s a "global warming scam" Glenn Beck), or, as Fox’s newest hire, Sarah Palin, scoffs, it’s "a bunch of snake oil science." Over at the Journal, Bret Stephens wrote last week, "global warming is dead… Which means that pretty soon we’re going to need another apocalyptic scare to take its place."
But a peek behind the denier emissions reveals some countervailing do-gooderism. "Dow Jones will be a leader in renewable energy," the company memo reads. The solar installation on the South Brunswick, N.J., corporate campus "reduces the need for electricity from non-renewable energy sources." And it’s not just about big bucks–the staff working on this energy initiative, called Cool Change, "imbued the effort with a justification beyond spreadsheets or blueprints."
Didn’t know that Murdoch Land had an energy initiative? Well, Fox News didn’t exactly blare Rupert’s clean little secret. But in a company-wide address on the subject in 2007, Murdoch said, "Climate change poses clear, catastrophic threats." He pledged to make News Corp. carbon neutral, and even said, in an interview with Grist magazine, that he’d be "subtly introducing [the climate issue] into our content"–heros driving hybrid cars and such. Which is just the sort of green-themed "behavior placement" that a recent Wall Street Journal piece showed is popping up in a slew of NBC TV programs.
The conservative media mogul might well have gone the way of Fox’s big anti-eco egos, but as Murdoch explained in the speech, his native Australia "is suffering its worst drought in 100 years." Not to mention the influence of his liberal wife, Wendi, and his son (and heir apparent) James, "who converted me."
Murdoch does seem vaguely aware that his Fox News anchors didn’t get the (literal) memo on going green. He told Grist that he’d probably bring Hannity around yet, because "he’s a very reasonable, very intelligent man. He’ll see, he’ll understand it." Oh my. Does he really know or, as long as it makes money, does he really care about the extent to which the Roger Ailes-led anti-science battalion is aggressively working against his new found ideals?
Murdoch seems as much in the dark about Fox’s Neanderthal stance on the environment as he is about its deep complicity in far-right politics. In a painfully embarrassing public interview with Marvin Kalb last week, Murdoch claimed he had no idea that Fox News has been actively and directly promoting the tea party movement. Fox shouldn’t be "supporting the tea party or any other party," Murdoch said, adding, "I’d like to investigate what you are saying before I condemn anyone." So Media Matters handed him the dossier.
Maybe he actually read it, because yesterday, as the L.A. Times wrote, "Angry Fox News executives ordered host Sean Hannity to abandon plans to broadcast his nightly show as part of a Tea Party rally in Cincinnati" after learning that he was going to headline the paid event and that proceeds would go to the local TP organization–a much more glaring conflict of interest than usual.
Next challenge: Educating Rupert that Hannity really isn’t a "very reasonable, very intelligent man."