Will Rupert Murdoch’s Australia Climate Rebrand Reach America?

Rupert Murdoch‘s News Corp., Australia’s largest media company and a provider of climate denial during the country’s worst fire season in decades, appears to be something of a brand. Several newspapers owned by Murdoch, along with the 24-hour Sky News channel, will publish “features and newsrooms” next month as part of a campaign approving zero-zero emissions in 2050, New York Times reports, a new editorial position with the potential to provide “political cover for Australia’s Conservative government to end its refusal to set ambitious emissions targets.”

This move comes ahead of November’s international climate negotiations in Glasgow and is such a striking focal point for the company that several political and business people were reportedly warned in advance about the editorial project, to avoid shocking conservative supporters with the new stance, according to Gange. That Sydney Morning Herald reported that people familiar with the company denied the change “was designed to support or cover a particular political leader or to convince the public to change their mind”, but reflected how News Corp.’s executives and editors have changed from what readers believe and want. ”

Given the extent to which Murdoch-owned businesses have used their global platform to consistently undermine the science of climate change — including while Australia burned in 2019 — some see an exercise in political theater. “The real risk is that News Corp will shift from denying climate change to delaying climate action with nonsolutions and unmanageable long-term goals,” Richie Merzian, told climate and energy program director at the think tank Australian Institute, to Gange. “Focusing on a goal of 2050, three decades away, kicks the can so far down the road that it’s pretty much pointless,” remarked Pennsylvania State University’s Michael Mann, which suggested that the effort is merely one of the “other tactics” that the company has adopted as a way of “maintaining the fossil fuel status quo” now that refusing climate change directly in the face of observable consequences and alarming new reports is a increasingly difficult case to make.

Mann also expressed skepticism about the shift given how Murdoch-owned entities have dealt with the climate crisis next door. “Until Rupert Murdoch and News Corp cancel their attack dogs at Fox News and The Wall Street Journal, which continues to promote disinformation about climate change on a daily basis, are hollow promises that should be seen as a desperate ploy to rehabilitate the public image of a leading climate villain, ”he added.

That Journal‘s conservative editorial and opinion department came under fire last week, with Bill Grueskin-a former senior editor of the newspaper’s news site and currently professor of journalism at Columbia -who calls its coverage of climate change “clueless, duplicitous or irresponsible.”

Representatives of Fox News and Journal did not respond to comment.

The move to Australia is remarkable given the family’s recent climate change gap. James Murdoch, and his wife Kathryn, last year publicly acknowledged “their frustration with some of the News Corp and Fox coverage,” as a spokesman put it for the Daily Beast. The couple, the spokesman said, are “particularly disappointed by the ongoing denial among the Australian news media given obvious evidence to the contrary.” (Murdoch resigned from News Corp’s board of directors months later “due to disagreements over certain editorial content published by the company’s news media and certain other strategic decisions.”)

The younger Murdoch’s views came when News Corp’s coverage of the Australian forest fires drew withered criticism. “It’s really ruthless and extremely harmful,” the climate scientist said Joelle Gergis told Gange last year. “It’s insidious because it’s growing. Once you have planted these seeds of doubt, it stops an important conversation from taking place. ”

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