Fox News guest dismisses impact of climate change on fires after Murdoch's son rips denial at outlet

"Is it climate change? Let’s put that to one side," billionaire Andrew Forrest said

By Igor Derysh

Managing Editor

Published January 15, 2020 2:31AM (EST)

James Murdoch (Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)
James Murdoch (Getty Images/Fox News/Salon)

One day after Rupert Murdoch's son skewered Fox News for denying science, a "Fox & Friends" guest dismissed talk of climate change during a discussion about the bushfires devastating Australia.

Wednesday's edition of President Donald Trump's favorite morning show featured an interview with Andrew Forrest, an Australian billionaire philanthropist who donated millions to fire relief efforts. The raging fires across Australia have killed at least 28 people and destroyed more than 15 million acres of forest. An estimated 1 billion animals have been killed in the fires.

Forrest told Fox News that the country needed to gather the "best science in the world, the best technology and best leadership" to "put out the fire first."

"The debate goes on. Is it fuel load — is it climate change," he adked. "Let's put that to one side."

The segment came two days after James Murdoch, the son of Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch, and his wife issued a statement criticizing the network, as well as his father's Australian outlets, for denying the science behind climate change when covering the fires.

"Kathryn and James' views on climate are well established and their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage of the topic is also well known," a spokesperson for the couple said in a statement to The Daily Beast. "They are particularly disappointed with the ongoing denial among the news outlets in Australia given obvious evidence to the contrary."

Murdoch's statement came after a staffer at News Corp, Fox News' parent company, sent a staff-wide email to News Corp Australia chief Michael Miller slamming their outlets' coverage.

"I have been severely impacted by the coverage of News Corp publications in relation to the fires, in particular the misinformation campaign that has tried to divert attention away from the real issue which is climate change to rather focus on arson (including misrepresenting facts)," wrote Emily Townsend, who works in the company's Australian division. "I find it unconscionable to continue working for this company, knowing I am contributing to the spread of climate-change denial and lies."

Scientists in the U.K. released an analysis of 57 peer-reviewed papers, which show climate change is driving the rise in wildfires around the world just this week.

"Overall, the 57 papers reviewed clearly show human-induced warming has already led to a global increase in the frequency and severity of fire weather, increasing the risks of wildfire," lead author Matthew Jones said in a statement.

As the Earth's temperature rises, a two-degree Celsius increase could extend Australia's fire season by up to 30 days, according to New Scientist.

In fact, a 2008 Australian scientific assessment report predicted that "fire seasons will start earlier, end slightly later and generally be more intense. This effect . . . should be directly observable by 2020."

Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science at Penn State University, linked Murdoch and his media empire directly to the fires engulfing Australia.

"What allowed any ignited fires to attain the intensity and scale of the bushfires breaking out across the Australian continent was the tinderbox-like conditions that prevailed across the continent due to record heat and drought—unprecedented conditions that cannot be explained without human-caused planetary warming," Mann wrote in an op-ed at Newsweek. "This was an inconvenient truth for the climate change-denying Murdoch media empire and the fossil fuel interests for whom they carry water. After all, once the public connects the dots between fossil fuel pollution, climate change disinformation, and the burning urgency of its consequences, Murdoch and his fossil fueled friends will be seen as the true arsonists: climate arsonists."

By Igor Derysh

Igor Derysh is Salon's managing editor. His work has also appeared in the Los Angeles Times, Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald and Baltimore Sun.

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