As Senate Democrats urge television networks to report more on global warming, one thing is missing from the news coverage of climate change: scientists.
Only two climate-change scientists were interviewed in 2013 on Sunday news shows on ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox, according to a study by Media Matters, a left-leaning media watchdog group. Those shows largely ignored the subject last year but still managed to feature four politicians and six media figures in their 2013 coverage, the study said.
And those two scientists, both interviewed on CBS’s Face the Nation, were the first in five years to be featured on any of the Sunday shows, according to the study.
Sunday talk shows are particularly important to lawmakers backing climate-change legislation because they help set the agenda for all national media, Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., told National Journal.
“If they cover it, then The New York Times is going to cover it,” Sanders said.
Right now, Sanders said limited discussion about the issue on the Sunday shows is failing to educate the public. While scientists have essentially reached a consensus on climate change, the public is still divided, he said.
Sanders and eight Democratic senators sent a letter Thursday to the heads of the four networks, asking for more coverage of issues relating to climate change.
Networks’ preference for pundits over scientists has caused the discussion on climate change to become hyper-political, said Shauna Theel, Media Matters’ climate and energy program director.
“They want to show there’s still a debate,” Theel said. “You want to have both sides, some sort of conflict. So it leads to pundits and politicians debating climate change, rather than saying it’s happening and that we’re agreed on the basics of the science.”
Climate-change coverage was limited overall last year, the Media Matters study found. The Sunday shows covered the topic for less than half the time they did in 2009, when the “Climategate” email-hacking scandal suggested that climate-change scientists had manipulated data.
CBS spent the most time covering climate change last year, dedicating about 52 minutes to the topic between the CBS Evening News and Face the Nation.
Nightly news shows covered the issue more frequently, and about half of their interviews were with scientists, according to the study. That was mainly because those shows included more segments on extreme weather events like wildfires, and they needed scientists to explain how climate change affected those individual events, Theel said.
Cable news channel Al Jazeera America attracted attention in its first week on the air in August when it dedicated 24 minutes to covering climate change in a single day. But in the network’s limited debut, it could not have had the same impact as a major network. And lawmakers who support legislation addressing climate change won’t be happy until ABC, CBS, NBC and Fox are covering it in-depth.
“If we believe in science,” Sanders said, “then I think that the most important media outlets would be having a discussion about the issue with the leading experts on the issue.”
What We're Following See More »
The House has passed a one-week spending bill that will avert a government shutdown which was set to begin at midnight. Lawmakers now have an extra week to come to a longer agreement which is expected to fund the government through the end of the fiscal year in September. The legislation now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to pass before President Trump signs it.
Alexander Acosta was confirmed Thursday night as Labor secretary, officially filling out President Trump's cabinet on day 98 of his presidency. Nine Democrats joined every present Republican in voting to approve Acosta, with the final tally at 60-38. Trump's first choice for Labor secretary, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his nomination after taking criticism for hiring undocumented workers and for other matters in his personal life.
"Rep. Will Hurd (R-TX) plans to introduce legislation today designed to help federal agencies update their aging technology—and this time, it has White House backing. Hurd worked alongside White House Office of American Innovation officials Reed Cordish and Chris Liddell in crafting and tweaking the legislation, and called their partnership an 'invaluable' part of the process."
"The State Department plans to cut 2,300 U.S. diplomats and civil servants—about 9 percent of the Americans in its workforce worldwide—as Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presses ahead with his task of slashing the agency’s budget, according to people familiar with the matter. The majority of the job cuts, about 1,700, will come through attrition, while the remaining 600 will be done via buyouts."
"Despite pressure from the White House, House GOP leaders determined Thursday night that they didn’t have the votes to pass a rewrite of the Affordable Care Act and would not seek to put their proposal on the floor on Friday. A late push to act on health care had threatened the bipartisan deal to keep the government open for one week while lawmakers crafted a longer-term spending deal. Now, members are likely to approve the short-term spending bill when it comes to the floor and keep the government open past midnight on Friday."