It’s a clear sign that the solar has become relevant across all sections of American society when pundits on Fox News, who have previously described Climate Change as “phony science”, are taking positions on solar trade cases.
Fox News host Sean Hannity has issued an audio statement to make the argument that President Trump should reject proposals for trade action by Suniva and SolarWorld, calling any proposed remedies a “bailout” for failed, foreign-owned manufacturers. This clip ran for several weeks in South Carolina, a nascent solar market, in advance of a visit by President Trump.
The 78-second clip, available on YouTube, shows Hannity’s misunderstanding of and/or disregard for basic facts regarding the solar industry, relying instead on the trademark Fox News trope of blaming former President Obama. This includes the bizarre claim that under Obama SolarWorld and Suniva “only survived because they received taxpayer money”, and that the “Obama gravy train has run dry”.
The talking points – including the “foreign-owned” line – read straight from Solar Energy Industries Association (SEIA) messaging. While this is not the first time that SEIA has engaged with right-wing groups and individuals normally hostile to renewable energy, including an alliance with American Legislative Exchange Commission (ALEC) and the Heritage Foundation to oppose the Section 201 petition, it does suggest that SEIA is reaching out to media outlets and speakers who President Trump and his base are likely to listen to.
This is exactly the tactic that SEIA CEO Abigail Hopper described to pv magazine staff when asked how SEIA strategy deals with the ultimate decision being made by a president who has called for his advisors to bring him tariffs and has shown a disinterest in technical details.
Correction: This article was corrected on October 19 at 10:23 AM EST. An earlier version stated that Sean Hannity had devoted a section of his show to this issue, when instead the recording in question came from a radio spot that Hannity had done. We regret the error.
This content is protected by copyright and may not be reused. If you want to cooperate with us and would like to reuse some of our content, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
I think that the idea that the completely different items of climate change and the solar PV industry MUST be tied together is a progressive, left wing only association that I’m frankly very tired of hearing. These two completely separate topics CAN be supported by both sides, at the same time. The left wingers seem to be completely amazed that a conservative could possibly support solar PV – as this article suggests. Wake up.
By hijacking and making the solar industry as a liberal only “agenda item” makes it an unnecessary target for arguments instead of discussions.
That’s a fine straw man you’ve built there. It does not reflect what we’ve written in pv magazine, or our approach to these issues.
What you can expect is that when any pundit talks about solar and makes inaccurate statements, that we will call them on it. And we aren’t going to shy away from noting the political perspective of the people and organizations making these statements, their previous statements and positions on energy and climate issues, or patterns of disregard for the facts.
Solar is the most conservative thing ever and that is exactly how we sell it. Independence, empowerment, savings. That is solar. Not at all “liberal”. Haha. Not at all. You are 100% incorrect.
I have to agree with D M there. Your opening line very much expresses both an incredulity that the right would support solar and a very direct implication that you have to be concerned about climate change to support solar.
I own a company that runs solar programs in a number for a number of states and we speak to thousands of solar customers a year. Anecdotally, I would say a full quarter of those who install solar do so out of an anti-monopoly libertarian belief which has nothing to do with climate change, and in fact many may doubt climate change (I don’t ask because it’s irrelevant to them installing solar). These are a very important demographic for us in the solar industry to reach out to and indeed embrace.
I’m a liberal tree hugger who is very concerned about climate change. And I can’t stand when people like you, who share my views, drive away potential allies away with attitudes like this. You wrote an article about unlikely allies in the Sunivia case. The “, who have previously described Climate Change as “phony science”,” comment was gratuitous, no way around it. The sentence and the article would have been just as complete without it, and you wouldn’t have instantly angered this entire demographic I referenced by throwing it in there. Arguably the bit about blaming Obama also wasn’t relevant to the thesis of your article, I mean seriously if you “called out” a Fox News commentator every time they said something inaccurate about solar it would be all your publication covered. You managed to alienate a big group of potential solar adopters for no reason at all without in any way influencing anyone who didn’t already agree with you to reconsider. You sadly managed to create negative value for solar with this article which could have created a good deal of positive value.
We’re on the same side, couldn’t be more on the same side. You’ve got a blind spot, you just have to get that poke in at people who you politically disagree with. It’s a weakness on your part that hurts both your effectiveness and our effort’s effectiveness. Please, just work on becoming more aware of it and doing your best to minimize it, rather than denying it.
I think you’re drawing erroneous conclusions from what I wrote. The organizations and public figures who express disbelief in climate change have been late to get interested in solar and the solar industry – which includes the mainstream Republican Party, Fox News, and Sean Hannity. And while many are interested now, that Fox News hosts steeped in climate denial are taking an interest in a solar trade case shows that this industry has gone from being a niche to mainstream.
That’s what I said and why I said it. Any other conclusions or associations here are yours, not mine.
Second, nowhere do I reject that many of people with the political opinions that you describe are interested in solar for reasons that have nothing to do with climate change. And if they are offended by my writing, that’s their loss.
Because my first job here isn’t to win Fox News readers over to solar. If they’re reading pv magazine, they’re probably already interested in solar. My job is to tell the truth, and the whole truth.
The truth here is that almost everything that Sean Hannity said was factually inaccurate, and that this is a pattern with Fox News. If Sean Hannity held opposing political beliefs to mine but took the time to understand this topic and to make intelligent statements, instead of relying in the intellectually lazy and bizarre dog-whistle of associating SolarWorld and Suniva’s business condition with the Obama Administration, I wouldn’t have slammed him.
Here’s the problem: If I repost his position but do not note the inaccuracies, my readers could assume that what he said was accurate. I wouldn’t be doing my job nor would I be furthering understanding in this industry.
If you want to be a bridge to right-wingers interested in solar, that’s great. I salute your work. But don’t expect me to write a story about bullshit without calling it bullshit.
I also find it interesting that you associate my calling bullshit bullshit with a particular political perspective. I’ve written scathing critiques of left-wing writers and climate activists (Naomi Klein and Bill McKibben, to be exact) when I found that they were being intellectually lazy and/or failing to provide adequate leadership on climate issues.
If the articles that you have read by me recently point to the intellectual failings of figures in the Trump Administration and Fox News, that’s for two reasons. One: Trump is the current president, and the people he appoints are now in power. Two: Both the Trump Administration and Fox News are 24/7 sources of pure bullshit – on these issues and in general.
Don’t expect me to hold back on critiquing inaccurate statements because it is not politically convenient for your or for anyone. This isn’t public relations. This is journalism.
With all due respect sir, your simply reinforcing the fact that you have a blind spot and it’s impacting your professional competency. This article was written for PV Magazine. PV Magazine is a trade publication. According to your own site, “pv magazine USA is a website launched for the U.S. photovoltaics (PV) community in July 2016, focusing on developments in both business and technology.” I’ve been a reader of the site since it’s inception and I’ve never seen anything in their mission about climate change or pointing out intellectual failings of public figures. That’s a personal crusade you’ve taken on, and it detracts from the mission of this publication, which again is “a website launched for the U.S. photovoltaics (PV) community in July 2016, focusing on developments in both business and technology.” It in fact does matter if you gratuitously throw in lines about climate change at the beginning of your article that turn off a big chunk of those ” focusing on developments in both business and technology.” It was in fact absolutely unnecessary to say “the trademark Fox News trope of blaming former President Obama”, that’s not journalism that’s you succumbing to your own personal agenda. By the way, I agree completely with that statement, I’m just a professional and can refrain from dropping it into a conversation when I’m “focusing on developments in both business and technology.” of solar pv, something you as a journalist should be able to do as well.
Again, I probably agree with your politically nearly 100%, and if you were writing on Politico I’d say you were doing an outstanding job. But you’re not, you’re writing on PV Magazine and while your moral outrage is entirely justified this isn’t the place for it. You forget who your audience is and what your job is in this instance. It’s not to be a crusading “journalist” fighting for truth and justice, sorry I know that’s why you got into this business and what you’re passionate about. It is in fact to “focusing on developments in both business and technology.” of solar PV. Again, I think you’re doing a fine job but in the wrong place.
BTW, false equivalence is a big issue. It means asserting that both sides have a reasonable point of view when one side is not at all reasonable. I in no way engaged in false equivalence in this instance, and if you believe I did I’d ask you to re-read what I wrote because that is not what was conveyed at all. False equivalence would be somehow asserting that climate change deniers had a point too, not telling you that a climate change debate was inappropriate in an article about a solar PV trade case. It’s pretty insulting to accuse someone of false equivalence, so you’d best at least fully understand what it is before you do so. That’s journalism.
It’s always interesting to read the words “with all due respect”, when they are followed by a comment which both does not show respect and does not respect journalism.
There is nothing in the mission statement of pv magazine which says that we do not explore the connection of the solar industry to broader political, cultural, economic and social issues. It’s true that we would be more like other trade publications if we didn’t do this; but we would also be boring.
Solar interacts with politics, and it interacts with climate change. To pretend that solar is an isolated industry that has nothing to do with broader social, political and environmental issues would be a dis-service to our readers.
And I’m certainly not going to do this to make you more comfortable.
The point on the mis-use of false equivalence is taken (if overblown), and thus I edited my comment. But a suggestion: learn to separate paragraphs and express yourself more succinctly. Having to read your misguided treatises is tiresome, and I’m under no obligation to publish them.
Sean Hannity is not “the right.” He is not a conservative as some of these comments seem to imply. He’s not a journalist, not an investigator, not a fact-checker. He is an entertainer on a news channel. He offers opinions and editorials. We’d all do well to ignore damn near everything on cable “news” and go elsewhere for news and journalism. Kudos to PV for keeping it simple – call bullshit for what it is. You’ll know it when you see it.
My basic point was that you can believe in the benefits of solar – the economics, the self supporting feeling of making your own power, and yes, even acknowledge that you are doing something for the air cleanliness (not spewing exhaust into the atmosphere…). ALL without the need to be forced into the believing or worrying about the highly politicized “Global climate change” or formally “Global warming” hype that the left highly promotes.
By combining these two things into one paragraph, implying that they are the same political ideology, I think you alienate or force “solar” to be a left-only agenda item and will discourage a big group of potential conservative interest group from being associated as a left wing radical participant.
I have found, in my sales calls / solar site surveys when I meet with people, that I don’t try to bring up politics, environmental benefits etc. If they feel that way about the environmental positives – then I’ll join in. But if I jump in hard with environmental justification points, many time I’ve seen them cool down and look at me as a left wing kook.. Trust me in this (I’ve personally installed over 500 PV systems in the past 20 years) it is best to separate these political issues if you want more solar PV supporters.
Sure – you can sell solar without talking about global warming. But I’m sorry to break this to you: global warming is not hype. It’s fact. We’ve had several of the warmest years on record recently. There is no legitimate scientific debate on this.
Following from that, Sean Hannity’s claim that global warming is a Chinese hoax is evidence of how out of touch with reality he is, and also a sign of his hostility to environmental issues. And Hannity and the other global warming deniers were not the first people to get involved with solar – they are late to the party. That they are now involved is a sign of mainstream acceptance of solar.
So yes, solar exists separately from global warming. But when commenting on social trends, like an interest not only in home solar installations but the solar industry writ large from the Fox News alternative right-wing reality crowd, we are going to note that this is 1) a relatively new development and 2) coming from people who profess loony anti-science ideas on related issues.
Also, the point of pv magazine USA is not to sell solar. It’s to report on the industry. We’re journalists, so facts are highly relevant. It’s simply not my problem if some Hannity fans get alienated by my post, because Hannity was simply factually wrong about what is happening with these two companies and the solar industry, and this is part of a pattern of him making statements that are factually wrong and what appears to be an entire career based on selling mythology.
Wall Street Journal (another right-wing media source, but a more credible one) was able to make commentary on this case that did not veer into conspiracy theory. If Hannity can’t, that’s not my problem. And again, if you think that I only issue harsh critiques of right-wing figures who fall short in terms of facts and analysis, you should see my reviews of Naomi Klein’s work.
By submitting this form you agree to pv magazine using your data for the purposes of publishing your comment.
Your personal data will only be disclosed or otherwise transmitted to third parties for the purposes of spam filtering or if this is necessary for technical maintenance of the website. Any other transfer to third parties will not take place unless this is justified on the basis of applicable data protection regulations or if pv magazine is legally obliged to do so.
You may revoke this consent at any time with effect for the future, in which case your personal data will be deleted immediately. Otherwise, your data will be deleted if pv magazine has processed your request or the purpose of data storage is fulfilled.
Further information on data privacy can be found in our Data Protection Policy.