When politicians hit the campaign trail and make sweeping policy statements, it's the press's role to call them out when their comments stray too far from reality. Basic questioning forces the candidates to stay honest. Fox News, though, reversed that traditional press role during an interview with Jon Huntsman this morning.
They brought up Huntsman's tweet from a few weeks ago, which said: "To be clear. I believe in evolution and trust scientists on global warming. Call me crazy." Fox's Brian Kilmeade took him up on that challenge, and questioned the veracity of climate-change research. Watch the exchange (video via GOP12):
Huntsman stood by his statement as Kilmeade pushed right-wing conspiracy theories about scientists manipulating studies. "We're not the ones taking grant money with scientists and making up results which hurt the cause," he said.
Despite Fox's fearmongering, there is no legitimate dispute among the scientific community on climate change. As The Washington Post's Brad Plumer explained, 97 percent to 98 percent of scientists in the field attribute the causes of global warming to humans. And contra Rick Perry, the consensus on humanity's role in climate change is increasing over time, as more and more evidence supports the conclusion that fossil-fuel emissions caused the uptick in the planet's temperature.
There's been an astonishing lack of policy disagreements in the Republican 2012 field. The fringe candidates like Huntsman and Ron Paul are free to break out their own views, but the leading candidates all position themselves based on image (Mitt Romney loves business! Michele Bachmann hearts the Tea Party!). When it comes down to the nuts and bolts of how they would govern, the candidates stick to the same set of views, thanks to the extreme groupthink pushed by Fox News and the Tea Party base. When a candidate like Huntsman dares to question that doctrine, he gets pushed further from the mainstream.