A top Fox News editor sent an email to staffers and journalists questioning the science behind global warming and directing them to always point out on air that the theory has its skeptics.
Media Matters obtained the memo. It is the second such email the organization has released in as many weeks. Like the last one, the global warming memo came from Bill Sammon, Fox News' Washington managing editor. Sammon was also the author of an email directing journalists to use the phrase "government option" instead of "public option."
Media Matters reports that the email was issued December 8, 2009, just fifteen minutes after Wendell Goler, currently the network's White House correspondent, said on air that the United Nations' World Meteorological Organization had announced that the decade of 2000-2009 was "on track to be the warmest on record." (Goler was speaking from the Copenhagen climate summit.)
Goler's report came during the so-called "Climategate scandal," which was seized on by global-warming skeptics as proof that the scientific community had been pushing false climate data in order to inflate the threat of global warming. (Studies later showed that the emails were not good enough evidence to cast doubt on the science.)
Minutes later, Sammon sent this memo:
From: Sammon, Bill
To: 169 -SPECIAL REPORT; 036 -FOX.WHU; 054 -FNSunday; 030 -Root (FoxNews.Com); 050 -Senior Producers; 051 -Producers; 069 -Politics; 005 -Washington
Cc: Clemente, Michael; Stack, John; Wallace, Jay; Smith, Sean
Sent: Tue Dec 08 12:49:51 2009
Subject: Given the controversy over the veracity of climate change data...
...we should refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question. It is not our place as journalists to assert such notions as facts, especially as this debate intensifies.
Sammon's directive appears to have had its intended effect. Later that evening, on "Special Report," Goler delivered another report from Copenhagen. This time, he stated the UN's findings again, and immediately went on to say, "skeptics say the recordkeeping began about the time a cold period was ending in the mid 1800s and what looks like an increase may just be part of a longer cycle."