Postmedia’s History of Climate Change Denial
Canada’s largest media chain, Postmedia Inc. has a fickle relationship with climate science. The company’s publications have long been a pulpit for climate change deniers. They serve as a platform like none other – at least in Canada – for the dissemination of anti-science and anti-environmentalist views.
Once upon a time, their contributors had no problems stating plainly their real views. If only they were still as forthright. Nowadays they’re “climate skeptics,” “pro-oil,” or “anti-tax.” The media conglomerate, which has an estimated 200 publications, has a murky history of giving a platform to this type of commentary.
The Denier in Chief: Rex Murphy
This history of climate denial is perhaps best exemplified by their relationship with Canada’s most infamous climate change denier, Rex Murphy.
Over the years Murphy has gone from outright climate change denial to a more watered-down approach. Instead of disputing the science, he attacks any form of action aimed at tackling the climate crisis. That includes even the Conservative Party’s most recent climate plan.
In 2014, the National Post journalist was marred by controversy when it was revealed he was getting paid by Big Oil for speaking gigs. Sponsors for Murphy’s public speeches included the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers, Enbridge, TransCanada, and Suncor. Despite warranted complaints about a conflict of interest, both the CBC and Postmedia continued to employ him.
An intimate relationship with Big Oil
Near the end of the Harper era, revelations began to pour out about Postmedia’s senior staff working in unison with the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP), the country’s largest oil and gas lobby. Postmedia was just part of a network of actors ostensibly working toward a common goal. The players involved included the Harper government, oil and gas companies, and advocacy groups. Their shared objective was to water down the threat of climate change and to showcase the oilsands in a positive light.
The investigative journalist that unearthed much of this information was, oddly enough, a reporter for Postmedia. Mike De Souza spent 10 years working for them, but when his exposés became serious, he was dismissed by Postmedia. His former employer then went on to attack his credibility.
This overlooked “friendship” between Postmedia, Big Oil, and conservative governments persists to this day. Just last year, it was revealed that Postmedia was lobbying to get involved in Jason Kenney’s “energy war room,” a government-funded organization created to attack climate activists.
Even the Oil CEOs get to join in
It’s not just political commentators and journalists that promote climate denial on Postmedia’s pages. Take Gwyn Morgan, the former CEO of Encana. Occasionally he drops in for a column to fight back against, what he calls, “climate propaganda.”
Gywn Morgan also serves on the board of the Fraser Institute, an organization that used to promote junk science for Big Tobacco. These days, the Fraser Institute takes millions from the likes of ExxonMobil and the Koch brothers and pushes research that is favourable to corporate interests.
It’s only going to get worse
This past summer, a Canadaland investigation unveiled a massive transformation underway at the highest levels of Postmedia. The conglomerate’s new CEO has big plans to push their outlets even farther to the right. The already explicitly right-wing Postmedia is on course to become Canada’s Fox News.
Kevin Libin, a man who cheered on Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris Agreement, has a big role to play in this transformation. He has been given the position of executive editor of Postmedia politics. Libin, who – ridiculed the notion that carbon dioxide could be deemed pollution – is now in charge of overseeing much of the political commentary coming out of Postmedia’s newspapers.
Previous editors have acknowledged how their commitment to right-wing ideologies often results in atrocious coverage of the climate issue. Here’s Jon Kay admitting it on live TV.
This was back in 2014. You can imagine what a commitment to pushing Postmedia even further to the right entails, especially with Libin at the helm.
The climate is changing, so is the discourse
Postmedia’s promotion of climate change denial, both explicit and implied, is nothing new. Indeed, the moniker of “denier” may not be enough anymore. Nonetheless, a careful and organized attempt to block climate action is underway. Worst yet, it’s succeeding in shaping public opinion.
Climate skepticism is taking on new forms and Postmedia is on the frontlines. This is undeniable. And it should worry everyone.