A coalition of Senate Democrats is pushing to shine a spotlight on climate change in the media. And they want scientists to play a starring role.
“When you talk about getting media attention it’s important to also talk about who should be participating in that discussion,” said Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., a member of the newly minted Senate Climate Action Task Force. “We’ll be working to bring more voices into the conversation and that will certainly include scientists.”
Last month, members of the task force, a group of Senate Democrats committed to climate action, sent a letter to the heads of major television networks, including ABC, CBS and NBC, asking them to give more media attention to climate change. The plea cited a study by left-leaning media watchdog Media Matters indicating that Sunday news shows spent only 27 minutes talking about climate change in the past year.
Members of the task force say the issue deserves increased attention in the news. But they don’t just want to spark debate, they want to shape the conversation.
“We want to make sure climate deniers and scientists do not get equal time. Media coverage needs to be decisively in favor of the facts, “Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, a member of the task force, said. “Making sure science is front and center in terms of media attention is certainly going to be part of our strategy.”
How do Democrats plan to raise the profile of scientists? To start, they’re looking to use good old fashioned PR.
“We need to work with scientists to pitch stories to the major media outlets that highlight the urgency of this issue,” Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said. “Scientists aren’t always good at self-promotion so we’ve got to make sure that the consensus position finds its way onto the airwaves.”
Sen. Rob Menendez, D-N.J., another member of the task force, said he will encourage climate scientists “to do what they can to raise awareness about the facts that we all know to be true.”
There’s just one problem. Democrats can’t agree on whether scientists should wade into a debate over policy.
Schatz, who met with CBS President David Rhodes last month along with Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., to discuss media coverage of climate change said scientists should be able to comment on the potential impact of policies designed to mitigate climate change.
Other members of the task force took a slightly different tack.
“It’s important for scientists to talk about the certainty of climate change but people need to hear from lawmakers about the different policy options we have for dealing with it,” Murphy said.
The extent to which Democrats can iron out differences of opinion may determine their ability to shape the conversation on climate change that’s playing out in the press.
Disagreement among Democrats is nothing new. Climate hawks like Boxer and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island routinely talk about climate change in the context of rising carbon emissions while more moderate Democrats like Sen. Mark Begich of Alaska believe the issue should be framed in terms of its cost to taxpayers.
The note of discord among task force members, however, shows that even among the most staunch advocates of climate action within the Democratic party, there remains a lack of consensus on how to win public support for the cause.
Similar tensions exist within the scientific community. For climate scientists, explaining the science behind climate change is uncontroversial, but talking about policy is a sticky subject.
“If you want to advocate for one policy or another that’s something that’s based not only on expertise but also on values so scientists need to be clear about what the science is and what their values are,” Dr. Gavin Schmidt, a climate scientist at the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies, said.
For now, science and ideology aren’t likely to part ways anytime soon.”Science and politics are always getting tangled up,” Dr. Daniel Sarewitz, co-director of Arizona State University’s Consortium for Science, Policy and Outcomes, said. “The underlying point is that everyone wants to have science on their side. It lends a kind of natural authority that everyone gravitates toward.”
Regardless of a divide among lawmakers, Democrats in both chambers of Congress are advancing the message that climate change poses a real and substantial threat and requires immediate attention. Members of the House Safe Climate Caucus, led by Rep. Henry Waxman, D-Calif., announced last week that they would highlight the issue in weekly op-eds and youtube videos.
All this comes in the face of what has largely been Republican inaction, a feature of the debate that Democrats are quick to emphasize. “Republicans are doing nothing, but we will not be silenced,” Waxman said last week at an event to announce the new push for climate action.
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Before we get to the specifics of this exposé about escorts working the Iowa and New Hampshire primary crowds, let’s get three things out of the way: 1.) It’s from Cosmopolitan; 2.) most of the women quoted use fake (if colorful) names; and 3.) again, it’s from Cosmopolitan. That said, here’s what we learned:
- Business was booming: one escort who says she typically gets two inquiries a weekend got 15 requests in the pre-primary weekend.
- Their primary season clientele is a bit older than normal—”40s through mid-60s, compared with mostly twentysomething regulars” and “they’ve clearly done this before.”
- They seemed more nervous than other clients, because “the stakes are higher when you’re working for a possible future president” but “all practiced impeccable manners.”
- One escort “typically enjoy[s] the company of Democrats more, just because I feel like our views line up a lot more.”
No matter where you stand on mandating companies to include a backdoor in encryption technologies, it doesn’t make sense to allow that decision to be made on a state level. “The problem with state-level legislation of this nature is that it manages to be both wildly impractical and entirely unenforceable,” writes Brian Barrett at Wired. There is a solution to this problem. “California Congressman Ted Lieu has introduced the ‘Ensuring National Constitutional Rights for Your Private Telecommunications Act of 2016,’ which we’ll call ENCRYPT. It’s a short, straightforward bill with a simple aim: to preempt states from attempting to implement their own anti-encryption policies at a state level.”
Much has been made of David Brooks’s recent New York Times column, in which confesses to missing already the civility and humanity of Barack Obama, compared to who might take his place. In NewYorker.com, Jeffrey Frank reminds us how critical such attributes are to foreign policy. “It’s hard to imagine Kennedy so casually referring to the leader of Russia as a gangster or a thug. For that matter, it’s hard to imagine any president comparing the Russian leader to Hitler [as] Hillary Clinton did at a private fund-raiser. … Kennedy, who always worried that miscalculation could lead to war, paid close attention to the language of diplomacy.”
The New Covenant. The Third Way. The Democratic Leadership Council style. Call it what you will, but whatever centrist triangulation Bill Clinton embraced in 1992, Hillary Clinton wants no part of it in 2016. Writing for Bloomberg, Sasha Issenberg and Margaret Talev explore how Hillary’s campaign has “diverged pointedly” from what made Bill so successful: “For Hillary to survive, Clintonism had to die.” Bill’s positions in 1992—from capital punishment to free trade—“represented a carefully calibrated diversion from the liberal orthodoxy of the previous decade.” But in New Hampshire, Hillary “worked to juggle nostalgia for past Clinton primary campaigns in the state with the fact that the Bill of 1992 or the Hillary of 2008 would likely be a marginal figure within today’s Democratic politics.”
At first, “it was pleasant” to see Trevor Noah “smiling away and deeply dimpling in the Stewart seat, the seat that had lately grown gray hairs,” writes The Atlantic‘s James Parker in assessing the new host of the once-indispensable Daily Show. But where Jon Stewart was a heavyweight, Noah is “a very able lightweight, [who] needs time too. But he won’t get any. As a culture, we’re not about to nurture this talent, to give it room to grow. Our patience was exhausted long ago, by some other guy. We’re going to pass judgment and move on. There’s a reason Simon Cowell is so rich. Impress us today or get thee hence. So it comes to this: It’s now or never, Trevor.”