Energy

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
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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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