Even as news of massive forest fires in Australia put the world’s focus on dealing with the climate change crisis, the right-wing media empire run by Rupert Murdoch has been leading the charge to deny, deflect, and distract.
The New York Times reports that Murdoch-owned media outlets have pushed out multiple stories that downplay the role of climate change in the intensity of the fires, while also pinning the blame on groups ranging from environmentalists to arsonists.
“On Wednesday, Mr. Murdoch’s News Corp., the largest media company in Australia, was found to be part of another wave of misinformation,” the Times reports. “An independent study found online bots and trolls exaggerating the role of arson in the fires, at the same time that an article in The Australian making similar assertions became the most popular offering on the newspaper’s website.”
Joëlle Gergis, a climate scientist at the Australian National University, tells the Times that the Murdoch papers are being “reckless and extremely harmful” in their efforts to obfuscate about the real reasons that fires in the country have grown more intense as the planet has warmed.
“It’s insidious because it grows,” he said. “Once you plant those seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place.”
In addition to casting about false blame for the fires, Murdoch’s papers have also tried denying that the fires are really that much of a problem.
“Not true, scientists say, noting that 12 million acres have burned so far, with 2019 alone scorching more of New South Wales than the previous 15 years combined,” the Times reports.