Insurance companies understand climate risk — So why are they funding Fox’s climate change denial?

  • Published on May 29th, 2020

new report from Media Matters found a handful of major national insurance companies are “top sponsors” of Fox News, staying loyal to the station’s climate and COVID-19 denial even after many major brands have dropped the channel due to its embrace of white supremacism.

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By Climate Denier Roundup 

As the report points out, the insurance industry has ranked climate as a top risk, has had to pay hundreds of billions of dollars to cover damages from extreme weather disasters, and is in the business of understanding and reducing risk. It’s not exactly a natural fit for Fox’s denial-laden, “risk-your-lives-for-the-economy” infotainment.

But apparently insurance companies don’t have an issue with supporting Fox News. In March and April, 43 insurance companies ran an incredible 3,000 ads on Fox. Liberty Mutual alone ran 606 ads. Over half of all the insurance ads, a total of 1,700, were from national companies GEICO, Allstate, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, and USAA. Of those five, only GEICO wasn’t one of the network’s top 10 advertisers. Overall, one in ten ads on Fox News during March and April was from the insurance industry.

Some of the channel’s biggest stars are its worst offenders when it comes to climate and coronavirus denial and disinformation, with Fox and Friends in the morning and Sean Hannity, Laura Ingraham and Tucker Carlson filling primetime. And sure enough, the report found the insurance industry is bankrolling them: “Progressive is a leading sponsor of Hannity, and USAA is among the lead advertisers for both The Ingraham Angle and Tucker Carlson Tonight. Allstate, GEICO, Liberty Mutual, Progressive, and USAA are all sponsors of Fox & Friends.”

Over a longer time period, the numbers are even more staggering. Media Matters extended the analysis through all of 2018 and 2019. During those two years, “a period when record extreme weather devastated the country and rocked the insurance industry,” the report notes, “these five companies collectively ran more than 28,000 ads on the network.”

Allstate’s 7,909 ads were the most, followed closely by Liberty Mutual, which was Fox’s third-biggest sponsor in 2019. The report contrasts that with statements Allstate and Liberty Mutual made in 2018 and 2019 affirming the terrible costs of climate change and extreme weather.

The report ends on a somewhat upbeat note though. Since 2017, over 70 companies have announced they won’t advertise on Fox’s primetime Hannity/Ingraham/Carlson block of programming as a result of episodes like Ingraham’s attacks on school shooting survivors and Carlson’s xenophobic racism.

Hopefully Fox’s anti-lockdown, pro-coronavirus programming will cause more of these companies to pull their ads from Fox, despite the network’s long record of denial and hate not proving evil enough to warrant such a decision.

We wouldn’t count on it though. After all, it does make some sense for them to advertise on Fox News. Not despite its racist fearmongering, climate denial and coronavirus conspiracy theories, but rather because of it.

After all, if you’re looking to sell insurance, what better audience than one that’s constantly being scared?

 

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