A Penn State professor set off a Twitter fury on Saturday after shaming a Marriott hotel in New York for allegedly having TVs in the fitness centre “fixed” on Fox News, an outlet the man said was guilty of promoting “anti-American, pro-Russian propaganda”.
Michael Mann, a professor of atmospheric science and director of the Penn State Earth System Science Center, tweeted his disgust at the hotel chain after visiting the Marriott Times Square’s fitness facility.
“The Fitness center at your NYC Times Square hotel has TV fixed on ‘Fox News’ – a network that promotes anti-American, pro-Russian propaganda.”
“The manager of the facility says he can’t change the channel, it is set by you. This is deeply offensive,” the professor wrote on Saturday, garnering more than 30,000 likes and thousands of retweets.
Mr Mann, who said in his first tweet that he’d initially lodged his complaint with the manager at the Times Square location he was staying at, decided to direct his pleas to the hospitality chain’s official Twitter and its accompanying hotel loyalty program, Marriott Bonvoy, once more after hours of radio silence from the company.
“Hi @MarriottBonvoy — Don’t want to pull rank, but I’ve got more followers than you,” the professor of atmospheric science wrote. “And the tweet now has 3k+ likes, 130k+ impressions and 10k+ engagements. And a large number of folks have said they’re no longer staying at @Marriott full stop. A response would be appropriate.”
The distinguished professor was in New York to accept the Leo Szilard Lectureship Award from the American Physical Society, an award that recognises the accomplishments of physicists whose work promotes the bettering of society in sectors like the environment, arms control and science policy.
By early Sunday afternoon, it appears that Mr Mann’s gripe with the hotel chain had been resolved after the manager of the location he was staying at reached out to him personally and corrected the hotel’s policy, which he said does not stipulate that the TVs remain locked on one channel, namely Fox.
“He informed me that, contrary to what the presiding employee indicated yesterday, the channels CAN be changed in response to the requests of their guests (yesterday Fox was the only news channel; the rest were sports channels),” he noted, before adding that he took “him at his word” and doesn’t “hold this incident against either this Marriott hotel or the @Marriott chain, and neither should you”.
The last portion of Mr Mann’s tweet was perhaps in reference to a selection of his followers who responded to his public shaming of the hospitality chain by voicing their support by similarly saying they’d boycott Marriott till the alleged policy was reverted.
“@MarriottBonvoy @Marriott I stand with @MichaelEMann. I’m a much too frequent AmExPlatinum guest & where I work racism, sexism, homophobia & climate denial gets you fired so I surely don’t want to see @FoxNews in my hotel fitness room or anywhere else. @sunrisemvmt @_thirdact,” wrote one of his followers.
In the wake of the Twitter exchange, another follower noted that they were appreciative that Mr Mann had taken the time to clear up the hotel’s policy, adding that he believed “We all need to call out Fox for being propaganda”.
The decorated climatologist has been recognised many times throughout his career for his contributions to better understanding the climate crisis, and has publicly taken “climate doom porn” cheerleaders – lobbying groups and even some academics who argue there’s nothing that can be done to escape the inevitable collapse, so why bother – to task over their views.
For instance, the distinguished professor is currently battling publicly with a retired University of Arizona ecologist, Guy McPherson, who many label an intellectual leader of the doom movement.
In a January 2021 interview with Scientific American, Mann was quoted as saying that people such as McPherson, who suggest we should simply find ways to cope with “our imminent demise”, are “incredibly disabling”.
“I’m not saying that fossil fuel companies are funding people like McPherson; I have no evidence of that,” Mr Mann said. “But when you look at who is actually pushing this message, it’s the conservative media networks that air his interviews.”