Democrats Plan to Pressure TV Networks Into Covering Climate Change

Sens. Sanders and Schatz are gathering colleagues’ signatures on a letter asserting that the shows are ignoring global warming.

Buildings are seen near the ocean as reports indicate that Miami-Dade County in the future could be one of the most susceptible places when it comes to rising water levels due to global warming on March 14, 2012 in North Miami, Florida.
National Journal
Ben Geman
Jan. 14, 2014, 10:03 a.m.

Sen­ate Demo­crats pledging to get more ag­gress­ive on cli­mate change will soon pres­sure the ma­jor TV net­works to give the top­ic far great­er at­ten­tion on the Sunday talk­ing-head shows.

Sens. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., and Bri­an Schatz, D-Hawaii, are gath­er­ing col­leagues’ sig­na­tures on a let­ter to the net­works as­sert­ing that they’re ig­nor­ing glob­al warm­ing.

“It is bey­ond my com­pre­hen­sion that you have ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, that their Sunday shows have dis­cussed cli­mate change in 2012, col­lect­ively, for all of eight minutes,” Sanders said, cit­ing ana­lys­is by the lib­er­al watch­dog group Me­dia Mat­ters for Amer­ica.

Sanders men­tioned the let­ter dur­ing a press con­fer­ence with most oth­er mem­bers of Sen­ate Demo­crats’ new, 19-mem­ber Cli­mate Ac­tion Task Force, and he elab­or­ated on it in a brief in­ter­view af­ter­ward.

“Sunday news shows are ob­vi­ously im­port­ant be­cause they talk to mil­lions of people, but they go bey­ond that by help­ing to define what the es­tab­lish­ment con­siders to be im­port­ant and what is of­ten dis­cussed dur­ing the rest of the week,” he said.

It’s un­clear how many sen­at­ors will ul­ti­mately sign the let­ter.

Sanders said law­makers plan to send the let­ter with­in days. The amount of Sunday TV cov­er­age is way out of whack with the top­ic’s weight, he ad­ded.

“What [the net­works] are say­ing is, cli­mate change is a non-im­port­ant is­sue, it is an ir­rel­ev­ant is­sue, and yet the sci­entif­ic com­munity tells us that it is the greatest crisis fa­cing this plan­et,” he said.

Demo­crat­ic mem­bers of the new task force say they’ll em­bark on a wide ar­ray of activ­it­ies to raise the vis­ib­il­ity of cli­mate change.

Mem­bers’ goals in­clude bat­tling GOP ef­forts to block fed­er­al car­bon emis­sions stand­ards for power plants, and, longer term, cre­at­ing polit­ic­al space for ma­jor cli­mate le­gis­la­tion that’s cur­rently go­ing nowhere in Con­gress.

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