Throughout the broadcast media where most people get their "news," coverage of climate change is not exactly what you'd call extensive. There are plenty of reasons why this should
be the case. For instance, Congress is now brimful of climate-change "skeptics," a euphemism for "deniers." These folks are either so ignorant they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near public office or so glued to the lies of their Koch-contributors that they shouldn't be allowed anywhere near public office. Then there is, of course, the reality of climate change itself. Which hasn't gone away.
The president himself won't use the term in speeches even on something as relevant to the climate-change discussion as energy policy. But he, at least, has reasons. No doubt his advisors argue against bringing the issue up in an election year given that the percentage of Americans who worry about global warming is well below what it was a dozen years ago.
But the media have no excuse other than that their bosses, both overt and behind the scenes, don't care to enlighten readers and viewers on the subject.
As Media Matters points out in a new study, coverage of climate change has plunged recently. Not that it was all that great to begin with. Nightly news coverage fell 72 percent between 2009 and 2011. That is, nightly news coverage on NBC, ABC, CBS went from two hours in 2009 to just 27 minutes in 2010 and 38 minutes in 2011. (Fox has no nightly news program.)
Think about that for a moment. Coverage of the most important issue of our era on the most-watched broadcast news programs for three years amounted to just 185 minutes. And if you think that this is made up for by MSNBC and CNN, who do a better job, think again. Four times as many Americans get their news from the three broadcast networks as they do the cable channels. Including Fox.
And the Sunday shows? Even worse. In three years, 98 minutes total for four networks, including Fox. Only nine minutes in 2011. Over the entire period, CBS's Face the Nation spent four minutes on climate change. In 2011, Donald Trump got more coverage than climate change on all four networks.
As if this pathetic showing wasn't bad enough, those invited to speak during the paltry time allotted helped frame the issue on the "skeptical" side:
In total, 68% of the political figures interviewed or quoted by the Sunday shows were Republicans, and 32% were Democrats. In 2011, the only people interviewed or quoted about climate change on the Sunday shows were Republican politicians. Fox News Sunday was the most skewed, featuring eight Republicans and only two Democrats over the three years. [...]
Our study finds that the Sunday shows consulted political and media figures on climate change, but left scientists out of the discussion. Of those hosted or interviewed on climate change, 50% were political figures—including elected officials, strategists and advisers—45% were media figures, and none were scientists. By comparison, 32% of those interviewed or quoted on the nightly news programs were political figures, and 20% were scientists.
The agenda here is dead clear. And it seems to be working. Just one problem. Whether you are the president, a network CEO or just a spoon-fed viewer, ignoring climate change won't make it go away.
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