Why Climate Change Denial is Like “the War on Christmas”
December 14, 2011
Wackjob right wing media manufactures imaginary story – check.
Story designed to activate reptilian fight-or-flight response in reality-challenged Fox News audience – check.
Add Religious Bigotry. Flavor with racism. Serve cold.
Conservative columnist David Frum, who was speechwriter for former President George W. Bush, blasted Fox News on Sunday for creating an “alternative knowledge system.”
In an article published by New York Magazine in late November, Frum had argued that conservative media like Fox News and talk radio “immerse their audience in a total environment of pseudo-facts and pretend information.”
In an appearance on CNN Sunday, Frum cited claims made on Fox News that President Barack Obama was proposing a “new Christmas tree tax,” something that was found by both The Florida Times-Union and PolitiFact Oregon to be not true.
“It fed into a story about this Muslim-y kind of president trying to destroy a Christian holiday,” Frum explained to CNN’s Howard Kurtz. “To make this a ground for a cultural conflict, to create a sense in large numbers of people they are being persecuted and attacked at a time when the country is in so much trouble, that’s how this thing is fed.”
“The question is what is the impact on the viewer?” he continued. “And we know, for example, that people that watch a lot of Fox come away knowing a lot less about important world events. That’s a correlation that we know.”
With real Christmas trees slowly losing sales ground to the artificial kind, many tree farmers were counting on a new federal program to boost business in Michigan — the third-largest producer of real trees in the nation.
They’ll have to wait at least another year.
In early November, the U.S. Department of Agriculture announced a “checkoff” program to promote sales of fresh Christmas trees. Two days later, under attack by conservative bloggers and talk show hosts, the federal agency changed its mind.
The program — similar to those promoting sales of beef, milk and other farm products — would have been funded by a 15 cent-per-tree fee collected from farms that sell 500 or more trees a year. The USDA had planned to appoint a board of industry representatives to oversee a “program of promotion, research, evaluation and information designed to strengthen the Christmas tree industry’s position in the marketplace,” the agency announced in the Federal Register.
Shortly after the USDA announced the checkoff program Nov. 8, the conservative blogosphere reacted. David Addington, vice president of the conservative Heritage Foundation, called the program “the Christmas tree tax.”
“The economy is barely growing, and 9 percent of the American people have no jobs,” Addington wrote in his blog. “Is a new tax on Christmas trees the best President Obama can do?”
Rush Limbaugh called it “Obama’s Christmas tree tax” and part of the “war on Christmas.” After the USDA put the program on hold, Limbaugh claimed credit.
The Agriculture Department isn’t killing the program, said Gwen Sparks, the department’s public affairs manager.
“USDA will delay implementation of this industry-funded program to provide consumers and other stakeholders an opportunity to better understand its nature and purpose,” she said.
Sound familiar? I thought so, too.