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Evlondo Cooper

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  • Here are two big things that were wrong with climate change coverage in 2018  

    Major outlets reported too little on climate change driving extreme weather and too much on Trump, two analyses find

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Mainstream media are continuing two troubling trends in their coverage of climate change, a pair of new reports finds. In 2018, media outlets too often failed to connect extreme weather to climate change, according to an analysis from Public Citizen, a progressive consumer advocacy organization. And researchers at the University of Colorado, Boulder found that when major outlets did cover climate change, their reporting was too focused on President Donald Trump.

    Public Citizen reviewed coverage of extreme weather events in 50 top U.S. newspapers, 32 online news sources, and major broadcast and cable television networks, analyzing how often that coverage made mention of climate change. Climate scientists have found that global warming is tied to more intense heat waves, wildfires, hurricanes, and floods, as well as aberrant weather events like polar vortexes. But Public Citizen found that many news stories neglected to explain this connection:

    On the whole, the proportion of [extreme weather] pieces that mentioned climate change was disappointingly low. There was no climate-related form of extreme weather that the media connected to climate change in more than 35 percent of pieces. That high-water mark comes from articles discussing record drought. Extreme heat fared similarly, with 34 percent of pieces mentioning climate change. For hurricanes, the rate was just 7 percent.

    Public Citizen’s report notes that coverage of climate change's role in extreme weather was better in 2018 than in 2017, but many outlets continued to miss the mark. 

    When it came to reporting on heat waves, newspapers and TV networks both showed improvement -- they mentioned climate change more often in their heat-wave stories in 2018 than in 2017 -- but not nearly enough. Thirty-three percent of newspaper articles about record or extreme heat connected it to climate change, up from 28 percent in 2017. Television news programs made the connection in 22 percent of their segments, compared to 10 percent in 2017. (A Media Matters analysis of broadcast coverage of a record-breaking heat wave in North America last summer found even worse performance.)

    Coverage of wildfires also improved slightly in 2018, according to Public Citizen’s report. Top newspapers mentioned climate change in 29 percent of wildfire stories last year, compared to 19 percent in 2017. The online news outlets mentioned climate change in 28 percent of wildfire stories in 2018, up from 22 in 2017. And television networks connected wildfires to climate change in 21 percent of their segments last year, compared to 8 percent in 2017. Again, Media Matters documented even worse performance from broadcast TV news in connecting climate change to wildfires that happened last summer and in early November.

    Similar patterns emerged in reporting on other extreme weather events such as heavy rainfall, flooding, and hurricanes: There was slight improvement, but as Public Citizen sums it up, "major news outlets fell short." 

    Researchers at CU-Boulder's International Collective on Environment, Culture & Politics documented a different problem with climate coverage in the U.S.: an obsessive focus on Trump. The collective's Media and Climate Change Observatory (MeCCO), which tracks media coverage in dozens of countries, produced a report summarizing its findings from 2018. In the U.S., MeCCO monitored five major newspapers and six major TV networks.

    According to the research group, “Throughout the year (as in 2017) there has been continued prominence of news from US outlets on climate change or global warming associated with Donald J. Trump.” It found that the word “Trump” was used an average of nearly 4.5 times in each story about climate change, just slightly less than 2017’s average of 4.7 times. In fact, Trump was mentioned more than twice as often as the words "science," "scientific," or "scientist(s)." The result of this Trump-centric reporting was that “media attention that would have focused on other climate-related events and issues instead was placed on Trump-related actions, leaving many other stories untold,” according to MeCCO’s analysis. (Media Matters reached similar conclusions about climate journalism’s overemphasis on Trump in 2017 and 2018.)

    There were some bright spots in climate coverage in 2018. Public Citizen highlighted an editorial collaboration in Florida called The Invading Sea -- involving the Miami Herald, The Palm Beach Post, the Sun-Sentinel, and public radio station WLRN -- that aims to increase awareness of sea-level rise and galvanize action to address it. The Public Citizen report also recognized great reporting by The New York Times, The Washington Post, and the Associated Press.

    Despite these positive developments, the two reports show that news outlets need to improve their climate journalism in 2019. They should stop chasing Trump's every tweet and instead provide sustained, substantive reporting that explains the nature of the climate challenge, connects extreme weather events to climate research, and amplifies solutions to climate-related problems.

  • Major Sunday shows discuss climate change and Green New Deal, but through narrow lens of political horse race

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    All five major Sunday morning political shows touched on the Green New Deal on February 10 -- the first time in 2019 that any of the programs have addressed climate change with more than a passing mention. But most of the discussion was superficial and narrowly focused on whether the Green New Deal will cause intra-party fighting among Democrats or end up benefiting Republicans, not on whether its policy ideas are good approaches for fighting climate change.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) introduced a Green New Deal resolution on Thursday, outlining an aggressive plan for achieving net-zero greenhouse gas emissions in the U.S. within a decade.

    NBC's Meet the Press featured a conversation about the Green New Deal with a panel of guests. Host Chuck Todd kicked it off by briefly outlining the plan's big goals and then asking Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas, “Is this a healthy debate [for the Democratic Party] that's happening right now?" In a follow-up comment to David Brody, chief political analyst for the Christian Broadcasting Network, Todd said, “Obviously the president's team sees a reelection opening." The panel discussion on the show largely focused on which party could benefit from consideration of the Green New Deal. Only MSNBC host Katy Tur talked about the dire climate impacts the Green New Deal is designed to mitigate:

    The U.N. said we have 12 years before complete disaster. You talk to the representative of the Marshall Islands, and he's calling it what could amount to genocide if we allow things to go as they are. The reports aren't just, "Hey, it's going to get bad." The reports are, "People will die. Millions and million, and millions of people will die." And I think that there is an appetite among voters out there, especially Democratic voters and potentially swing voters, to say, "Hey, let's do something about this now because it's, it’s going to affect our future." And there's real economic damage that can happen as well. Billions of dollars in economic damage from crops to deaths, to losing oceanfront homes and businesses in, over the next century.

    On CNN's State of the Union, host Jake Tapper brought up the Green New Deal twice. His interview with Peter Buttigieg, Democratic presidential hopeful and mayor of South Bend, IN, included a substantive exchange on the plan and on climate impacts. Tapper briefly mentioned the Green New Deal’s broad aims, questioned Buttigieg about how it could affect his constituents and industry in the Midwest, and asked if he endorsed it. Buttigieg affirmed his support for the general framework of the Green New Deal, specifically “the idea that we need to race toward that goal and that we should do it in a way that enhances the economic justice and the level of economic opportunity in our country.” Buttigieg also noted that action is needed because extreme weather is already hurting Americans. Later in the show, during an interview with Sen. Chris Murphy (D-CT), Tapper noted that Murphy was a Green New Deal co-sponsor before saying, “Independent senator Angus King of Maine as well as Obama's former energy secretary Ernest Moniz say they don't think that this plan is realistic.” Murphy responded, “It's absolutely realistic and I frankly think we need to set our sights high.” Murphy emphasized the reason why bold steps are required: "Global warming is an existential threat to the planet."

    Fox News Sunday included two segments that discussed the Green New Deal, but host Chris Wallace seemed less interested in how it would address climate change and more interested in whether it could be labeled “socialist.” During a discussion with a panel of guests, Wallace listed some of the plan’s policy goals before asking former Rep. Donna Edwards (D-MD), “Couldn't you call it socialist?” In a follow-up question to Edwards, Wallace lumped the Green New Deal in with other progressive policy proposals such as free college tuition and a guaranteed jobs plan, asking her again, “Couldn't you argue that's pretty radical and possibly socialist?” During a separate interview with Acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney, Wallace asked if President Donald Trump views the Green New Deal as “the view of a wing of the [Democratic] party or does he think that's the prevailing opinion of Democratic leaders?”

    Both ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos and CBS' Face the Nation just made passing mentions of the Green New Deal. This Week host Stephanopoulos directed a comment about Trump’s sarcastic tweet about the Green New Deal to ABC News contributor Chris Christie, but Christie didn't address the topic. Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan didn’t bring up the Green New Deal herself, but one of her guests, National Review Senior Editor Jonah Goldberg, referenced it in passing to claim that it could harm the Democrats politically.

    Sunday’s Green New Deal coverage did not include any guests who voiced climate denial, which is an improvement over the last time all of the major shows covered climate change, on November 25, after release of the National Climate Assessment. But this time around, none of the shows hosted guests with particular expertise in climate change to discuss the plan, like climate scientists or environmental journalists. This is an unfortunate, long-running trend: The Sunday shows rarely feature climate experts.

    The Green New Deal is sparking Sunday show discussion of climate policy, which we've seen very little of in recent years. (And it’s freaking out conservatives and right-wing media figures.) But the coverage needs to get better. Media outlets have a responsibility to move discussions of climate-related issues like the Green New Deal beyond superficial horse-race coverage and into real substance. That means acknowledging that the Green New Deal is not merely a political ploy; it is an effort backed by a broad array of environmental groups, environmental justice organizations, and unions, as well as high-profile Democratic politicians, to comprehensively address the climate crisis. Sunday shows should be fostering discussion of whether the Green New Deal is the right approach to deal with climate change, not whether it will help one side or another score quick political points.

  • Polluter-backed misinformers are trying to kill carbon-pricing plans in the states

    After tanking a carbon fee initiative in Washington state in 2018, fossil fuel interests are focused on other states in 2019

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A carbon fee ballot initiative failed in Washington state last year, but that won't deter activists and lawmakers from pushing carbon pricing measures in other states in 2019. Unfortunately, polluter interests, which waged a $31 million misinformation campaign to defeat the Washington state initiative, are already ramping up efforts to kill like-minded measures around the country, even though carbon pricing enjoys broad and bipartisan support.

    To curb the heat-trapping pollution that causes climate change, policymakers in at least seven states are seriously considering ways to price carbon. Oregon and Vermont are two states where carbon-pricing proposals are on the table in 2019 and have a better chance of passing than in previous years because of favorable outcomes in the 2018 midterm elections.

    But a constellation of hostile companies and groups are preparing to thwart any efforts to put a price on carbon pollution using a well-worn playbook of fearmongering and pushing misinformation that has proved successful in the past. From major oil companies to conservative trade associations to Koch-backed think tanks, the polluter syndicate uses its money and influence to try to keep Americans hooked on fossil fuels. 

    In Oregon, Koch-linked groups fight "cap and invest"

    Climate advocates in Oregon are optimistic about passing cap-and-trade legislation this year -- specifically a Clean Energy Jobs bill that they describe as "cap and invest." A version of the bill failed to pass the legislature in early 2018, but Democratic leaders reintroduced it in late January and are making it a priority for 2019. It would cap total carbon emissions, require the state’s largest polluters to purchase emissions permits, and invest the money that's raised in transitioning the state away from fossil fuels.

    Voters in the 2018 midterms gave Oregon Democrats supermajorities in the state House and Senate, and delivered incumbent Gov. Kate Brown (D) a six-point re-election victory. Brown's campaign platform called for a Clean Energy Jobs bill, and she has expressed support for the new version.

    Anti-climate-action groups opposed the Clean Energy Jobs bill last year and are ramping up for an intense lobbying campaign against it this year. If the measure passes the legislature, they could try to put it on the ballot and give voters a chance to overturn it. 

    In the last year, one high-profile group opposing cap and trade has been Priority Oregon, a 501(c)(4) dark money group. Although Priority Oregon refuses to disclose its donors, it has acknowledged that its members include the Taxpayers Association of Oregon. In 2017, the Taxpayers Association of Oregon worked with the Koch-funded Institute for Free Speech (formerly the Center for Competitive Politics) to fight a campaign finance reform measure passed by voters in Multnomah County, which encompasses Portland.

    The money Priority Oregon has received from both known and unknown sources allowed it to pay for a series of misleading ads during the 2018 legislative session that alleged cap-and-trade legislation would increase Oregonians' energy bills. These ads ignored the assistance the Clean Energy Jobs bill would provide to individuals and industries affected by potential price increases for electricity or natural gas. Priority Oregon also weighed in on the 2018 governor’s race, running multiple attack ads against Brown. 

    Various other Koch-financed or -affiliated groups are also trying to stymie cap-and-trade legislation in Oregon.

    Oregon Business & Industry, which bills itself as “Oregon's largest and most influential comprehensive business association,” is affiliated with two organizations that are deeply intertwined with the Koch network: the National Association of Manufacturers and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. In 2017, Oregon Business & Industry released an anti-cap-and-trade study it commissioned, which was heavily criticized for a number of methodological flaws by clean energy advocacy group Renew Oregon.

    The Oregon Farm Bureau, a trade association whose advocacy arm has taken Koch money, also publicly opposes cap-and-trade legislation. It has fought other environmental protections in the past, including the so-called Waters of the U.S. rule, a federal regulation intended to conserve waterways.

    Another opponent is the Portland-based Cascade Policy Institute, a Koch-connected, libertarian think tank that has promoted climate change denial and argued that the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency are unnecessary. The institute came out against the idea of cap and trade as far back as 2008. In February 2018, the group's president and CEO argued against the Clean Energy Jobs bill in testimony before the state legislature. 

    These groups have been able to push their messaging out through mainstream media and the business press.

    In Vermont, the heating oil lobby and right-wing think tanks fight carbon fee

    Environmental advocates in Vermont are hopeful about the state legislature enacting a carbon price on gasoline, natural gas, and heating oil in 2019, according to Tom Hughes, campaign director for Energy Independent Vermont, a coalition of pro-carbon-fee environmental organizations, business groups, low-income advocates, and others. Last year, the legislature dedicated money for a study of carbon pricing options and other ways to cut greenhouse gas emissions in Vermont. The study, conducted by nonprofit research group Resources for the Future and released in January of this year, found that a carbon price combined with other climate policies could lower emissions without hurting the economy or low-income people.

    Thanks to the 2018 elections, the state legislature is now more likely to act. “There are more climate champions in the Vermont State House in 2019 than ever before,” Hughes told Media Matters. According to Vermont Conservation Voters, “pro-environment candidates won 28 out of 33 hotly contested seats in the 2018 elections,” helping Democrats and Progressives gain a veto-proof majority in the legislature. They'll need it, as Republican Gov. Phil Scott is opposed to carbon fee legislation, even though he supports incentives for electric vehicles and a multistate initiative to curb transportation emissions in the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic.

    Any carbon fee bill will also face stiff opposition from Koch-backed groups allied with the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association.

    The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, a heating industry trade group, has broad reach in the state, where it claims that its members service three out of four homes. Many of those homes use heating oil -- about 51 percent of Vermont households, according to the state government. The association, which is aggressively opposed to a carbon fee, has been using its influence to scare its members and customers about what it says would be the adverse economic impacts of pricing carbon, like higher heating oil costs -- despite the fact that the Resources for the Future study found that low-income people could be shielded from overall higher costs.

    The association operates a website called Stop the Taxes that fearmongers about the effects a carbon fee would have on Vermonters. The Vermont Fuel Dealers Association also included several anti-carbon-fee messages in its weekly email newsletters in 2018. For example, the April 20 issue took swipes at Ben & Jerry's, which has supported carbon pricing:

    The Vermont Carbon Tax will NOT pass in 2018, despite a media blitz by several famous Burlington businesses. There was very little debate about the tax proposal, which is designed to raise the cost of oil and gas in order to subsidize electricity. Most outside the statehouse recognize that taking money from poor Vermonters to lower the light bill at the ice cream factory isn’t a path to economic prosperity. It certainly isn’t a “solution” to climate change either.

    The Ethan Allen Institute is another Vermont-based organization opposed to carbon pricing. The institute, which has a history of climate denial, has been funded for years by groups in the Koch network such as the State Policy Network, Donors Capital Fund, and the Cato Institute. In February 2018, the Ethan Allen Institute published a study attacking a carbon fee proposal being considered by the legislature at the time. The institute has also teamed up with the Vermont Fuel Dealers Association, publishing an anti-carbon-tax blog post written by the association's executive director.

    The anti-carbon-fee forces are getting a publicity boost from True North Reports, a Vermont-based right-wing policy organization that publicly presents itself as a news site. Backed by a Vermont megadonor who has funded conservative and right-wing causes, True North Reports has also been affiliated with the Koch network since it launched in 2010 with then-news director Rob Roper, former FreedomWorks state director and current Ethan Allen Institute president. True North Reports' current managing editor, Bruce Parker, has Koch ties too. He was previously a reporter and editor for Watchdog.org, a product of the Koch-backed Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity. Parker has also written for right-wing and conservative media outlets such as FoxNews.com, The Daily Caller, The Washington Times, and Human Events. True North Reports has also been directly involved in partisan politics, donating $7,500 to Republican candidates in 2016 and $10,000 to the Vermont Republican Party in 2018.

    True North Reports has repeatedly criticized carbon fees on its website and on its television show, which airs on a local public access channel. In another demonstration of collaboration between Vermont’s anti-environmental groups, True North Reports hosted a policy analyst for the Ethan Allen Institute in September 2018 to discuss the findings of the institute’s latest anti-carbon-fee report published earlier that month.

    Carbon pricing momentum elsewhere will draw attacks too

    The polluter interests attacking carbon pricing proposals differ from state to state. Oregon and Vermont have unique coalitions of groups trying to stop their respective cap-and-trade and carbon fee plans. In Washington state last year, it was big oil companies that spent millions to kill a carbon fee initiative.

    But what's consistent is that there will be significant pushback against any efforts to price carbon from companies and groups that have financial interests in the continued burning of fossil fuels. We can expect to see this vocal opposition in other states that are considering carbon pricing plans this year, including Hawaii, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, and Virginia.

    There's also a well-coordinated coalition of right-wing groups opposing carbon pricing on the national level, as Media Matters reported last year. Expect it to be particularly active in 2019 because there's modest momentum behind the idea of carbon taxes. A bipartisan group of U.S. House members has reintroduced a carbon pricing bill that it first floated late last year. Dozens of renowned economists, including a number of Republican heavy hitters, recently endorsed carbon taxation in an opinion piece in The Wall Street Journal, as did a recently retired GOP representative. Carbon pricing could also become part of Green New Deal legislation, though it was not explicitly included in the Green New Deal resolution recently introduced by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA).

    It's worth pointing out that many fossil fuel defenders and right-wing ideologues, who are now freaking out over the prospect of a broad Green New Deal, remain as opposed as ever to moderate, incrementalist carbon tax proposals. This polluter lobby draws little distinction between so-called “radical” plans like the Green New Deal and corporate-friendly carbon tax plans like that of the Climate Leadership Council, which has backing from establishment Republicans and Fortune 500 companies. They will fight bitterly against them all.

  • Sunday show coverage of climate change in 2018 was a disaster

    Less than 6 percent of episodes on the major Sunday shows discussed global warming, and some of them included climate deniers

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    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Less than 6 percent of episodes of the five major Sunday morning news shows in 2018 featured any substantial mentions or discussions of climate change, according to a Media Matters analysis. And the number of times the shows addressed climate change was down from the previous year: They ran 13 percent fewer climate-focused segments in 2018 than they did in 2017, continuing the shows’ multi-year trend of neglecting climate change.

    The Sunday shows also continued their trend of failing to adequately represent minorities, women, scientists, and environmental journalists in discussions about climate change.

    Media Matters analyzed climate change coverage and guest appearances on the five major Sunday morning shows: ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press.

    The Sunday shows help set the media and political agenda for the week, but it's not only politicians, pundits, and other media figures who take their cues from them -- members of the public do too. The four broadcast Sunday shows attracted a combined audience of nearly 11 million viewers in the last quarter of 2018. Because of their wide viewership and political prestige, Sunday news shows play a crucial role in determining which issues and voices are included in the national dialogue.

    Key findings:

    • Less than 6 percent of episodes of the major Sunday shows in 2018 featured significant discussion of climate change.
    • Sunday shows ran fewer segments that included substantial mentions of climate change in 2018 (27 segments) than they did in 2017 (31 segments) -- a 13 percent decrease.
    • Only 18 percent of guests featured during climate-focused segments in 2018 were people of color -- six out of 34 guests total.
    • Only 35 percent of guests featured in climate-focused discussions in 2018 were women.
    • Two scientists were included in climate-related segments in 2018, after scientists had been excluded from all of the Sunday shows' climate discussions for almost three years.

    Major Sunday shows ignored climate change during most of 2018

    In 2018, the five major Sunday shows aired a combined total of 256 episodes, and only 14 of them made significant mention of climate change -- less than 6 percent.

    During the course of the year, there were only nine Sundays when at least one show aired a segment that focused on climate change. On the other 43 Sundays, or 83 percent of them, climate change was not substantively addressed.

    The shows also neglected to cover climate change during six months of the year, including June, when a heat wave broke records across much of the U.S.; August, when the Mendocino Complex became the largest fire in California’s history; and September, when Hurricane Florence devastated parts of North Carolina.

    The total number of segments addressing climate change was down from 2017: The shows aired 27 segments in 2018 compared to 31 segments the year prior, a decline of 13 percent. Face the Nation and Meet the Press aired eight climate-related segments each in 2018, followed by Fox News Sunday with five, and This Week and State of the Union with three each. (Not all of the segments were good; some featured climate deniers making false statements. More on that below.)

    When the Sunday shows did air climate-focused segments, the discussions were dominated by white men and unrepresentative of America's population.

    People of color made up only 18 percent of Sunday show guests discussing climate change in 2018

    Of the 34 guests featured during climate-focused segments in 2018, just six were people of color, or 18 percent. This is a slight improvement from 2017, when only four out of 35 guests on climate segments were people of color, or 11 percent.

    The guests of color who participated in climate change discussions in 2018 were:

    • Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) on Face the Nation;
    • CNN political commentator Symone Sanders on State of the Union;
    • U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Democratic strategist Mo Elleithee on Fox News Sunday; and
    • New York Times journalist Helene Cooper and then-Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL) on Meet the Press.

    ABC’s This Week was the only Sunday show that did not host a guest of color during one of its climate-focused segments.

    The underrepresentation of communities of color in the Sunday shows' climate discussions becomes apparent when you consider that non-white and/or Hispanic/Latino people constitute 39 percent of the U.S. population according to census data. People of color should also have more of a voice on the shows because they tend to bring different perspectives: They are more concerned about climate change than whites and more likely to say they feel its impacts, according to a 2015 survey and other polls. A 2015 poll of African Americans found that 60 percent ranked global warming as a serious issue, and 67 percent said that actions should be taken to reduce the threat of global warming. And a 2017 survey found that 78 percent of Latinos were worried about global warming, compared to 56 percent of non-Latinos.

    Women made up 35 percent of Sunday show guests in climate-related segments in 2018

    Just 12 of 34 guests who joined in the Sunday news shows' climate discussions in 2018 were women, or 35 percent. Meet the Press led the way this year with six women, State of the Union followed with three, Fox News Sunday had two, and This Week had one. Face the Nation failed to feature a woman during any of its climate-related segments.

    This represents a slight increase from 2017 when women were nine of the 35 guests, or 26 percent. 

    Despite the fact that women constitute roughly 51 percent of the population, the trend of males dominating Sunday show guest slots continues, whether they're discussing climate change or any other topic. Again, this leads to a loss of valuable perspective: Polls indicate that American women are more worried about climate change than men. According to a 2015 survey, 69 percent of women in the U.S. are concerned that climate change will affect them personally, compared to only 48 percent of men. And a December 2018 poll found that 71 percent of American women say there's enough evidence of climate change to warrant action, compared to just 61 percent of men.

    Sunday shows featured two scientists in climate-related segments in 2018, after excluding scientists for almost three years

    When Face the Nation host Margaret Brennan asked NASA Deputy Associate Administrator Steven Clarke about the National Climate Assessment on November 25, it was the first time in almost three years that a scientist had been included in a discussion about climate change on a Sunday show. The last time it had happened was December 2015, also on Face the Nation. But the discussion between Brennan and Clarke on climate change was brief; most of Clarke's time on the show was spent talking about NASA’s latest mission to Mars.

    The next month, during a Meet the Press episode dedicated to climate change on December 30, NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel joined a wide-ranging panel discussion about climate challenges and potential solutions.

    That episode of Meet the Press also featured NBC News' Chief Environmental Affairs Correspondent Anne Thompson on its panel -- the first time a Sunday show has included an environmental journalist in a climate-focused discussion since Media Matters began tracking the guest lineups 2013.

    Overall, the vast majority of Sunday show guests invited to discuss climate change were politicians, political operatives, or political journalists. 

    When Sunday shows discussed climate change, the coverage was too often superficial or poor

    On the few occasions when the Sunday shows did address climate change in 2018, the discussions were often superficial and sometimes featured climate denial or other inaccurate statements, failing to give viewers the substantive, fact-based coverage they deserve.

    For example, after the Trump administration tried to bury a major government report, the National Climate Assessment, by releasing it the day after Thanksgiving, all five major Sunday shows covered climate change on the same day for the first and only time all year, on November 25. But the quality of much of that coverage was bad. Some of the hosts, including Meet the Press’ Chuck Todd and State of the Union’s Dana Bash, invited climate deniers to discuss the report, allowed them to make false statements, and failed to offer any meaningful pushback. Others, such as This Week’s George Stephanopoulos, spent only a little time on the report.

    When the shows did include people of color or women in their climate change discussions, that didn't necessarily mean the discussions were good. For example, when Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), a Cuban-American, answered questions about climate change on Face the Nation, he suggested that policy solutions would destroy the economy or not be effective. And when Danielle Pletka of the American Enterprise Institute joined in a panel discussion about climate change on Meet the Press, she falsely claimed that the previous two years had been among the coldest on record -- comments so blatantly wrong that the fact-checking website PolitiFact dedicated a post to declaring them "false."

    (In some cases, guests on Sunday shows brought up climate change unprompted, but hosts failed to engage or changed the subject. This happened during interviews on This Week with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee (D) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT). We excluded these instances from our analysis; instead, we only gave shows credit for airing climate segments when hosts brought up climate change themselves or engaged in discussions on the topic.)

    Without Meet the Press’ climate-focused episode, the Sunday show statistics for 2018 would have been much worse

    Meet the Press took the unprecedented step of dedicating an entire episode to climate change on December 30, its last episode of 2018. It aired about a month after host Todd was widely criticized for allowing Pletka to make false claims on the air and then failing to push back against them.

    Seemingly chastened, Todd opened the episode by saying, "We're not going to give time to climate deniers. The science is settled, even if political opinion is not." The show featured five segments and seven guests, including outgoing Rep. Carlos Curbelo (R-FL), who had introduced legislation to price carbon earlier in the year, as well as outgoing California Gov. Jerry Brown (D) and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg (I), both of whom have made fighting climate change a signature issue.

    This episode was the high point of an otherwise dreary year for climate coverage. Without it, Sunday shows would have only aired 22 climate-focused segments featuring 27 guests in 2018, down from 31 segments featuring 35 guests in 2017 -- and Meet the Press would have tied for the lowest number of segments in 2018.

    Major Sunday shows need to increase their substantive climate coverage and include a wider range of voices

    In 2018, which was one of the warmest years on record and saw numerous climate-related disasters, the amount of climate change coverage and the quality of that coverage should have gone up, not down.

    A pair of major reports released in the latter part of the year put our current situation in stark relief. In October, the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change published a study that found if global average temperatures rise more than 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels, hundreds of millions of people would be at increased risk of climate change impacts such as flooding and extreme heat. In late November, the U.S. government put out the latest installment of the National Climate Assessment -- a 1,500-page, congressionally mandated document produced by some 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies -- that painted a dire picture of how climate change is already affecting the U.S. and how its catastrophic impacts will intensify in coming years.

    Meet the Press’ climate-focused episode demonstrated that Sunday shows can give the topic the serious attention it deserves, with guests who are well-informed about the problem and potential solutions. But this kind of substantive coverage needs to be sustained and incorporated into all of the Sunday shows week after week. And the coverage must include a broader array of guests -- scientists and environmental journalists who can explain the nature of the challenge, and people of color and women who are on the frontlines of climate change and are pioneering solutions to the crisis.

    Ted MacDonald contributed research to this report. Charts by Melissa Joskow.  

    Methodology

    This report analyzes coverage of climate change in 2018 on five Sunday morning news shows: ABC's This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox Broadcasting Co.'s Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press. To identify segments that discussed climate change, we searched for the following terms in Nexis: climate change, global warming, changing climate, climate warms, climate warming, warming climate, warmer climate, warming planet, warmer planet, warming globe, warmer globe, global temperatures, rising temperatures, hotter temperatures, climate science, climate scientist, paris climate, climate accord, paris accord, climate agreement, paris agreement, and climate deal. Our analysis included any segment devoted to climate change, as well as any substantial mention of climate change (more than one paragraph of a news transcript or a definitive statement by a media figure). The study did not include instances in which a non-media figure brought up climate change without being prompted to do so by a media figure unless the media figure subsequently addressed climate change. We defined media figures as hosts, anchors, correspondents, and recurring guest panelists.

  • Here's what you need to know about the National Black Chamber of Commerce

    EPA chief Andrew Wheeler to announce major environmental rollback alongside fossil-fuel-funded front group

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER

    On Thursday, the Trump administration is expected to announce a regulatory rollback that will make it easier to build new coal-fired plants by eliminating Obama-era rules requiring such plants to include carbon-capture technology. Andrew Wheeler, acting administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), is scheduled to make the announcement alongside Harry Alford, president of the National Black Chamber of Commerce (NBCC), a minority business front group that has received funding from fossil fuel interests and other corporate sources, including ExxonMobil and Koch Industries.

    Alford and the organization he runs have long teamed up with conservatives and business interests to fight regulations that would protect and clean up the environment. A 2017 Bloomberg investigation described the NBCC as “a shoestring operation, run by a husband-and-wife team." But despite its small size, the group provides outsized value to corporations and industry groups. The NBCC has been criticized by a number of prominent environmental justice leaders and organizations, including Green For All, GreenLatinos, and WE ACT for Environmental Justice.

    Here's a quick overview of NBCC activity on behalf of polluters.

    NBCC campaigned against the Clean Power Plan

    The Clean Power Plan, put in place by the Obama administration in 2015, aimed to curb carbon emissions from existing power plants, part of a larger effort to fight climate change. According to Obama's EPA, it also would have improved public health by cutting air pollution. Civil rights leaders, environmental justice groups, and environmental activists successfully pushed the agency to make sure the rule addressed many of the environmental and economic concerns of minority and low-income communities.

    But the NBCC opposed the Clean Power Plan while claiming to be speaking on behalf of African-Americans. The group commissioned and promoted a flawed study that falsely claimed the plan would disproportionately harm minorities. The study was swiftly debunked. And yet Alford became a central figure in a disinformation campaign backed by fossil-fuel interests. He placed anti-Clean Power Plan op-eds in at least seven newspapers and saw right-wing outlets echo and amplify his discredited assertions.

    NBCC's debunked study found new life in the Trump administration. When the EPA, under Wheeler's leadership, proposed to replace the Clean Power Plan with a weaker substitute, the White House cited the NBCC study in its talking points. 

    NBCC took part in a deceptive campaign against solar energy

    In 2016, the NBCC was part of Consumers for Smart Solar, a utility-backed and Koch-backed astroturf group that campaigned on behalf of a deceptive ballot initiative in Florida. The initiative was designed to appear pro-solar, but it actually would have slowed the growth of rooftop solar while protecting the utilities from competition. Voters ended up rejecting the measure. 

    Alford fought EPA’s rule to limit smog pollution

    After the EPA moved in 2015 to impose limits on ozone, a component of smog, Alford went on a speaking tour to convince minority audiences that the EPA’s rules would harm them economically, echoing a message broadcast by the NBCC’s corporate donors. When confronted with evidence that smog disproportionately hurts minority and low-income communities, Alford said it was a “farce.”

    NBCC backed a climate denier's effort to discredit carbon pricing

    Earlier this year, NBCC joined right-wing organizations supporting an anti-carbon tax resolution proposed by Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA), a climate denier. Alford signed a letter supporting the resolution, listing his name alongside far-right figures like Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform and Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

    Alford: "Coal is essential to our way of living"

    Alford is on the board of the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy, also known as Energy Fairness, a self-described “coalition of working people, business owners, environmentalists, and trade organizations who are fighting for fair, responsible energy policies.” In actuality, the group and a partner organization, Working People for Fair Energy, have been closely aligned with utility companies fighting coal-ash regulation, according to a 2010 investigation by the Institute for Southern Studies.

    In October 2016, Alford went on a tour of coal mines in Alabama that was sponsored by the Partnership for Affordable Clean Energy. In a blog post about the tour that he published on PACE’s website, Alford wrote, “Coal is essential to our way of living. If some politicians and activists think they can ‘kill coal’ they are terribly mistaken.”

    Alford and Wheeler are two of a kind

    Alford and the NBCC have consistently worked against the interests of minority communities and working families to advance a pro-fossil fuel agenda. Like Wheeler did when he was a lobbyist, Alford has cashed oil, gas, and coal company checks for years. So it is fitting that they will be standing together to announce the Trump administration's latest assault on our environment and climate.

  • CNN keeps letting guests and paid commentators lie about climate scientists

    It's not true that scientists do climate research to get rich, and CNN knows it

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS & EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    This post was updated on November 28.

    CNN has let at least three commentators argue this week that scientists are warning the public about climate change because they're getting rich by doing so -- a ridiculous and patently false claim. CNN knows it's ridiculous and false because the network ran a fact-checking segment debunking the claim and interviewed a climate scientist who explained why it's wrong. But even that didn't stop the network from continuing to spread the lie.

    To make matters worse, the three people who made this lie on CNN -- former Sen. Rick Santorum (R-PA), former Rep. Tom DeLay (R-TX), and Trump-boosting economist Stephen Moore -- have themselves been the beneficiaries of fossil fuel money, but CNN failed to disclose that information.

    CNN lets liars lie

    Following the release of the National Climate Assessment, a major government report about the dangers that climate change poses to the U.S., CNN contributor Santorum came on State of the Union on Sunday morning to discuss it. Among other idiotic things, he said:

    I think the point that Donald Trump makes is true, which is -- look, if there was no climate change, we'd have a lot of scientists looking for work. The reality is that a lot of these scientists are driven by the money that they receive, and of course they don't receive money from corporations and Exxon and the like. Why? Because they're not allowed to because it's tainted. But they can receive it from people who support their agenda, and that, I believe, is what's really going on here.

    Santorum's comments about climate scientists doing it for the money were widely mocked on Twitter. But that didn't stop other conservative commentators from repeating the bogus claim during CNN appearances.

    DeLay, who resigned as House majority leader in 2005 after being convicted of money laundering and conspiracy, made similar comments on CNN Right Now on Monday: 

    The report is nothing more than a rehash of age-old 10- to 20-year assumptions made by scientists that get paid to further the politics of global warming.

    Moore, a right-wing economist with a record of being wrong, echoed those points later on Monday on Erin Burnett Outfront:

    We have created a climate change industrial complex in this country, with billions and billions and billions of dollars at stake. A lot of people are getting really, really, really rich off the climate change issue.

    CNN does fact-checking, confirms that the lie is a lie

    On Tuesday morning, CNN's John Avlon played clips of what Santorum and DeLay said and then proceeded to debunk their claims in a "Reality Check" segment:

    JOHN AVLON (POLITICAL ANALYST): Now that talking point you're hearing is a classic bit of distraction and deflection designed to muddy the waters just enough to confuse the clear consensus. In fact, one of the scientists who worked on the climate change report, Katharine Hayhoe, confirms that she and her colleagues were paid, quote, “zero dollars” for their work and could easily make ten times their salaries by working for something like Big Oil. So it turns out that this idea that climate change scientists are rolling in the dough Scrooge McDuck-style is so pervasive that it had to have its own Yale study debunking it.

    The Yale study that he referred to is a guide by the Yale Climate Communications group that lists arguments refuting the "persistent myth" that scientists are in it for the money.

    CNN then hosted the climate scientist Avlon cited, Dr. Katharine Hayhoe, who laughed at the claim that she and her colleagues are paid to advance an agenda and explained why it's incorrect:

    KATHARINE HAYHOE (ATMOSPHERIC SCIENTIST): I got paid zero dollars to write this report. My salary would have been exactly the same if I had or hadn't. And if I were studying astrophysics like I used to, I'd probably get exactly the same salary as well. The reality is that I’ve found people often accuse us of doing what they would often do themselves in our position. If we just cast our eye down the richest corporations in the world on Wikipedia's list, the vast majority of those owe their wealth to fossil fuels, so therefore they have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo as long as possible.

    CNN invites liar back on to repeat lie

    But even after CNN debunked the lie with its own programming, the network invited Moore back on to double down and repeat the discredited claim. During At This Hour With Kate Bolduan on Tuesday, host Bolduan played Moore a clip of Hayhoe's comments and let him respond:

    MOORE: She runs the climate change center at the school in Texas. What keeps those centers alive is the climate change industry. My only point is that the government in the United States and around the world has spent billions and billions of dollars on climate change. It has become an industry. That does call into question some of the partiality of this research. But the bigger point is --

    BOLDUAN: You still don't think she is just motivated by science?

    MOORE: She may be. I'm not calling out any single person. I'm just saying that the industry is very, very well funded. It’s in the billions of dollars. People have a vested financial interest in talking about armageddon and these kinds of things.

    CNN invited Moore back on for yet another appearance on Tuesday, again on Erin Burnett OutFront, in which he continued to repeat specious right-wing talking points about the National Climate Assessment.

    And Santorum also got another chance to repeat the lie about climate scientists being motivated by money. During an appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° on Tuesday night, Santorum said:

    I said this the other day and I've gotten a -- I've become a very popular man on Twitter in the last couple of days for the comment I made about scientists making money. There would be no chair of the head of climate studies at every university in America if we didn’t have a crisis. These people make money because there's a crisis.

    Santorum's appearance on Anderson Cooper 360° was all the more egregious because Cooper interviewed climate scientist Hayhoe for the episode, and even teased the interview during the show, but ultimately didn't air it. Hayhoe revealed this fact in a tweet, part of a longer thread about the experience:

    CNN did end up posting the interview with Hayhoe on its website. In it, Hayhoe said:

    HAYHOE: What I do take personally is when we are accused of being in it for the money. I got paid zero dollars to write this report, and honestly, I could have spent those hundreds of hours elsewhere. We don't do this for the money. We do it because we're physicians of the planet. We understand that our planet is running a fever. The impacts are serious and will become dangerous, and we have to act now, not for the good of the planet but for the good of every single human who lives on it.

    COOPER: I mean, that is something the president has said in the past, that this is a hoax, and that there are people who've said on our air that this is a money-making scheme essentially, this is a money-making venture.

    HAYHOE: I would ask them where are they getting their money from.

    Great points from Hayhoe. Too bad they didn't make it on the air.

    CNN fails to disclose that liars have received fossil fuel money

    While CNN lets its commentators falsely accuse scientists of being motivated by graft, the network has failed to disclose that those very commentators have financial motivations of their own: All three have gotten money from fossil fuel interests that oppose climate action.

    Santorum received $763,331 in contributions from the oil and gas industry during his time in the Senate from 1995 to 2007. His long career of shilling on behalf of fossil fuel interests paid off after he left Congress and started doing lucrative work as a consultant, including earning $142,500 in 2010 and the first half of 2011 from Consol Energy, a Pennsylvania coal and gas company. Santorum is also currently the co-chair of biofuels advocacy group Americans for Energy Security and Innovation. Anderson Cooper disclosed that Santorum is paid by the biofuels group before his discussion with Santorum, but did not note the fossil fuel money Santorum has raked in over the years.

    DeLay received $739,677 in contributions from the oil and gas industry from 1985 to 2008, and gave enormous handouts to the industry during his time in office.

    For his part, Moore has worked for many fossil fuel-backed advocacy groups, including the Koch-funded Cato Institute, Club for Growth, and Donors Capital Fund. He was also chief economist at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank that has been funded by ExxonMobil and the Kochs. And just last last month, Moore gave a speech at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Oil and Gas Association. 

    At the very least, CNN should disclose its commentators' conflicts of interest. Better, of course, would be not to give them a platform from which to spew their nonsense. But CNN is more dedicated to showy fireworks and conflict than to the truth.

  • Sunday shows finally talk about climate change (but that doesn’t mean the coverage was good)

    After bombshell climate report, Sunday political talk shows bring on climate deniers

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER



    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Trump administration tried to bury a major government report on climate change by releasing it on the day after Thanksgiving, but the bombshell report still received substantial media attention, including coverage on all five of the major Sunday morning political talk shows.

    The latest National Climate Assessment report -- a 1,600-page, congressionally mandated document produced by some 300 scientists from 13 federal agencies -- paints a dire picture of how climate change is already affecting the U.S. and how its catastrophic impacts will intensify in coming years. The report was expected to be released in early December, but three knowledgeable sources told The New York Times' Coral Davenport that "administration officials hoped to minimize the impact by making the assessment public on the afternoon of Black Friday, the big shopping day after the Thanksgiving holiday, thinking that Americans might be unlikely to be paying attention."

    But by publishing the report during a slow news period, the Trump team might have inadvertently caused it to get more media attention than it otherwise would have.

    Yesterday was the first time this year that the five major Sunday shows discussed climate change on the same day. ABC's This Week, CBS' Face the Nation, CNN's State of the Union, Fox News Sunday, and NBC's Meet the Press all included segments on the new report.

    That's more than the number of Sunday shows that covered another major climate report released in early October by the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Only three of the Sunday shows -- This Week, Face the Nation, and State of the Union -- covered that IPCC report.

    Though the Sunday shows covered the new climate report, much of the coverage was poor

    Even though the five big Sunday shows covered the new National Climate Assessment, the quality of the coverage in many cases was downright poor. Some of the hosts invited climate deniers to discuss the report, failed to question them about their denial, and allowed guests to spout denialist talking points with little to no pushback, while other hosts spent only a little time on the report.

    The panel that NBC's Chuck Todd invited to discuss the climate report on NBC's Meet the Press included Danielle Pletka of the Koch-backed American Enterprise Institute, who asserted easily debunked nonsense about the last two years being the coldest in recent history. Todd also asked Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) about the report during an interview, without noting that Lee has questioned basic climate science.

    CNN's State of the Union hosted two climate deniers to discuss the National Climate Assessment: Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) and former senator and CNN contributor Rick Santorum. In response to host Dana Bash’s question about how climate change could harm agriculture in Iowa, Ernst engaged in lukewarm climate denial, stating, "We know that our climate is changing. Our climate always changes, and we see those ebb and flows through time." Meanwhile, Santorum praised the Trump administration’s attempt to bury the report and claimed that the scientists who produced it were “driven by money,” an assertion that was widely derided on social media.

    On Fox News Sunday, host Chris Wallace asked Sen. Ben Sasse (R-NE) to discuss the climate report’s findings. Sasse decried climate "alarmism," easily dodged Wallace's questions, and pivoted to arguing for further environmental deregulation.

    George Stephanopoulos of ABC's This Week addressed the report during an interview with Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), but only spent about two minutes on it.

    Margaret Brennan of CBS' Face the Nation questioned NASA's Steven Clarke about the report, but the exchange about climate change was brief and came in the midst of a discussion about NASA's Mars probe. Still, it marked the first time in nearly three years that any of the broadcast Sunday shows included a scientist in a discussion about climate change; the last time a scientist appeared in a broadcast Sunday show climate segment was the December 13, 2015, episode of Face the Nation. Brennan also discussed the climate report with Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT).

    The fact that most Sunday show hosts only briefly discussed the National Climate Assessment’s urgent findings -- rather than giving them more in-depth coverage with a panel of experts -- is right in line with trends Media Matters has documented in recent years. In the rare instances when Sunday shows address climate change, it is usually within a narrow political framework and includes a similarly narrow range of politicians and political pundits.

    The attempt by the Trump team to bury the report and keep information about climate change out of the public eye is also in line with observed trends. The White House has systematically removed climate change information from federal government websites, especially the site of the Environmental Protection Agency, and EPA officials last year told members of a scientific advisory committee that climate change would be de-emphasized by the administration.

  • Only 29 percent of key debates in 2018 included a question about climate change

    But the percentage rose notably after release of a dramatic climate report from the U.N. IPCC

    Blog ››› ››› LISA HYMAS & EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Climate change should have been a topic in every election debate this year. The U.S. was pummeled by extreme weather in 2018, and climate scientists are telling us that climate change is the big reason why. Voters deserved to know what, if anything, candidates propose to do about the problem.

    But climate change got short shrift in most key Senate and gubernatorial debates this election season. Out of 78 debates Media Matters analyzed in tightly contested races, only 23 included a moderator or panelist asking a question about climate change -- just 29 percent. (For details, see our scorecard.)


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    That percentage is up a little from 2016 -- when only 22 percent of debates in key competitive races included a question about climate change -- but it's still far too low.

    Yet we did spot a few encouraging trends.

    After October 7, when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued a major report about the urgent need to address the climate crisis, many more moderators and panelists asked about climate change. Only 7 percent of debates (2 of 27) included a climate question before the release of the IPCC report. After the report came out, 43 percent (21 of 49) included a climate question -- a marked improvement. Nearly half of those questions directly referenced the report.

    The journalists serving as moderators and panelists clearly recognized the importance of the IPCC's warning and became more attuned to the urgency of the climate crisis. We hope this attention to climate change will carry forward and inform their reporting in the future.

    We also found that many voters pushed for climate questions to be included in debates, in red and purple states as well as blue ones. At the first Indiana Senate debate on October 10, moderator Anne Ryder, a senior lecturer at Indiana University's Media School, brought up the topic of climate change and said, "I’ll tell you, we’ve received more questions on this than any other topic." In the next debate in the race, a few weeks later, moderator Amna Nawaz of PBS NewsHour told the candidates that several voters had not been satisfied with the answers they gave previously and asked them to detail specifically what they would do to combat climate change.

    In a Colorado gubernatorial debate on October 23, moderator Nic Garcia, a political reporter for The Denver Post, introduced a question about climate change by saying, "When we asked readers and viewers for questions, overwhelmingly this was the No. 1 topic on their mind." And at an Arizona Senate debate and a Wisconsin gubernatorial debate, moderators asked climate questions that had been submitted by members of the public.

    Ahead of an October 21 Florida gubernatorial debate, citizen activists announced that they were going to press moderator Jake Tapper of CNN to ask a question about climate change. But Tapper caught wind of their plans and tweeted that there was no need; he already knew that climate change was a notable topic. He then made it the subject of his first question at the debate.

    Rep. Jared Polis, Democratic candidate for governor in Colorado, said that voters asked him about climate change more than reporters did. "Climate change and environment are a lot more on the minds of people that I meet, and I've had over 300 meet-and-greets in all parts of the state," he said during an interview on November 1.

    When moderators did ask climate questions during debates, the candidates often revealed dramatically different views on the issue -- important information for voters to know.

    During the October 16 Texas Senate debate, for example moderator Jason Whitely, a reporter at WFAA-TV in Dallas, asked Republican Sen. Ted Cruz about his history of climate change denial. Cruz responded by saying, “The climate has been changing from the dawn of time. The climate will change as long as we have a planet Earth.” Whitely pushed Cruz to clarify his views on climate change, but Cruz again dodged the question. When his turn came, the Democrat in the race, Rep. Beto O’Rourke, said, “Look, the climate is changing, and man-made climate change is a fact. Three hundred years after the Enlightenment, we should be able to listen to the scientists and follow their advice and guidance. And they tell us that we still have time, but the window is closing to get this right."

    At the Arizona Senate debate on October 15, moderator Maria Polletta, a reporter for The Arizona Republic, asked Democratic Rep. Kyrsten Sinema and Republican Rep. Martha McSally about climate change. Sinema responded by explaining that she wants to work on water issues and said, "I firmly believe that as Arizonans, as Americans, we have the resources, we have the tools, we have the skills, and we have the knowledge. We can address issues of climate change together, and do so without harming our business prospects and without harming what makes Arizona so amazing." McSally, in contrast, was scornful of the topic. "I can’t believe this is the last question," she said before changing the subject.

    With the 2018 election season coming to a close, we need journalists to further ramp up the focus on climate change. As new governors and members of Congress take their seats, they will have to make critical decisions about a rapidly changing electricity system, transportation networks, agriculture and land-use practices, and ways to make our communities more resilient in the face of disasters. Reporters should ask elected officials how climate change will factor into those decisions. And when the 2020 campaign season gets rolling, journalists and media outlets will have a crucial role to play in making sure that climate change is discussed in races from the local level all the way up to the presidency. As the recent IPCC report warned us, there's no more time to waste.

  • Big Oil is spending massive amounts on Facebook and TV ads to kill a climate ballot measure in Washington state

    The No on 1631 campaign is running 71 different ads on Facebook and blanketing the airwaves with TV commercials

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Washington could become the first state in the nation to place a fee on carbon emissions from polluters. Voters will decide next week on Initiative 1631, a ballot measure that would have the state collect money from the biggest emitters of carbon dioxide and use it to fund a variety of environmental and clean energy programs. In response, major oil companies and industry-funded think tanks have launched a multi-million-dollar campaign to blanket the internet and airwaves with distortions and misinformation intended to erode support for I-1631.

    After a carbon tax bill failed to pass the state legislature earlier this year, the Alliance for Jobs and Clean Energy assembled possibly one of the broadest and most diverse coalitions ever to get a carbon fee on the November ballot, including more than 200 clean energy and environmental groups, labor unions, community-of-color groups, tribal nations, and others. The diversity of this coalition is no veneer. Unlike previous attempts to pass a carbon price in Washington, I-1631 was developed around the principles of environmental justice, community health, and public oversight, and grassroots organizing was pivotal to getting it on the ballot.

    The coalition’s initiative would impose a carbon fee on major polluters that would start at $15 per metric ton in 2020 and gradually increase over time. The fees collected, which are projected to amount to $1 billion in the first year and $2.3 billion over five years, would be used to implement clean energy and efficiency projects, assist low-income communities’ transition to a clean energy economy, reduce carbon emissions in the transportation sector, and increase awareness of climate change and its impacts, among other programs.

    Despite the failure of carbon tax Initiative 732 in November 2016, a poll taken after its defeat found that 67 percent of voters supported I-732 or “a better measure” to address climate change. As support for a new and improved ballot initiative began coalescing this spring, the oil industry was watching -- secure in having stopped federal action on carbon pricing, but afraid of the domino effect if states like Washington start implementing their own climate policies.  

    The No on 1631 astroturf campaign ramps up

    The industry-backed campaign to stop I-1631 commenced modestly at first, with the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) forming the No on 1631 political action committee (PAC) in April. WSPA is a trade association that works on behalf of some of the world’s largest oil and gas companies. The No on 1631 PAC initially received five-figure donations from BP, Chevron, Phillips 66, Shell, Andeavor, and U.S. Oil & Refining Company. Then far greater sums poured in throughout the summer and fall. As of November 2, No on 1631 had received more than $31.5 million, almost all of which came from out-of-state oil companies. The PAC’s top 10 funders are:

    1. BP America:  $12,896,031
    2. Phillips 66:  $7,201,187
    3. Andeavor:  $4,362,827
    4. Andeavor LLC (Marathon Petroleum Corp.):  $1,700,000
    5. American Fuel & Petroleum Manufacturers:  $1,250,000
    6. Valero Energy Corporation:  $995,000
    7. Koch Industries, Inc.:  $950,000
    8. U.S. Oil & Refining Company:  $558,531
    9. Chevron U.S.A., Inc.:  $500,000
    10. PBF Energy, Inc.:  $400,000

    The competing PAC that is supporting I-1631 has only raised about half as much -- $15.6 million -- and its money has come from a wider variety of sources, including environmental groups and individuals in Washington state, like Bill Gates, as well as from out of state, like Michael Bloomberg.

    Unprecedented spending fuels advertising blitz

    The unprecedented tens of millions of dollars Big Oil has poured into the "no" campaign have allowed it to blanket social media and local television airwaves with anti-1631 propaganda.

    Over just the two-week period from October 16 to October 29, the No on 1631 PAC spent more than $1.1 million on digital advertising. Most of this money seems to have been gone to Facebook advertising. As of November 1, No on 1631 was running 71 Facebook ads, which have garnered millions of impressions. Most of the ads feature the No on 1631 logo with a single, misleading talking point and a link to the PAC’s website. To implement its online media strategy, No on 1631 retained the agency BASK Digital Media, which has worked for a number of other conservative groups and campaigns this year, and marketing and advertising firm Target Enterprises, which has also done millions of dollars of work for Republican candidates and conservative groups this election cycle.

    No on 1631 is spending big on TV ads too. During the two-week period from October 16 to October 29, it paid Target Enterprises about $6.2 million for broadcast and cable/satellite advertising. Its ads have run on at least 20 television stations throughout the state. And it has spent $2.1 million on direct mail during the same period.

    The No on 1631 PAC has also run a letter-to-the-editor campaign and helped place anti-1631 op-eds in newspapers across the state. Some anti-1631 op-eds have been written by Todd Myers, a longtime industry shill who is currently the director of the Center for the Environment at the Washington Policy Center, a Koch-funded conservative group. As one of the most vocal opponents of I-1631, Myers has given multiple media interviews, been cited in other anti-1631 pieces, and debated environmental advocates over the initiative.  

    A number of other right-wing groups, some of them funded by or linked to the Koch brothers' network, are also fighting against the initiative, either as part of the main "no" campaign or independently, including the Association of Washington Business and the National Federation of Independent Business.

    Potentially millions exposed to Big Oil’s distortion campaign

    Hundreds of thousands or even millions of people may have viewed the "no" campaign's TV and Facebook ads, which range from disingenuous to outright dishonest. Many of the talking points in these ads come from a Washington Policy Center report that has also been promoted by the Association of Washington Business and other groups opposed to I-1631.

    One such ad features small-business owner Sabrina Jones, who tells viewers that I-1631 “exempts many of the state’s largest polluters.” A fact check by KING 5 News found the ad failed to mention that the TransAlta coal plant, the primary exempted facility, is already scheduled to close permanently in 2025, thanks to a deal previously reached with the state government. As The Atlantic reported, additional regulation of the plant would delay its closure date.

    In No on 1631’s most-aired commercial, former state Attorney General Rob McKenna blasts the initiative while failing to disclose that his law firm represents Chevron, a major funder of the "no" campaign. McKenna misleads viewers about I-1631’s expected impacts on residents, citing a state government report that projects $2.3 billion in fees will be collected from polluters over five years and misrepresenting that figure as meaning Washington residents will pay $2.3 billion in higher costs -- a vastly overstated claim, even if polluters try to pass along all of their costs to the public.

    Most recently, the No on 1631 campaign has been aiming disinformation directly at the Latino community. According to Seattle alt-weekly The Stranger, “No on 1631 sent out a mailed advertisement to Spanish speakers across Washington state. It contained a list of Latino businesses who were opposed to the carbon fee, who were in favor of No on 1631. Most of those businesses had no idea their names were on that list.” Some of those businesses expressed anger after finding out about the mailer, according to an environmental justice activist.

    Will voters be swayed by Big Oil's propaganda?

    The oil industry's donations and the "no" media campaign have both ramped up in recent weeks, likely spurred at least in part by an early October poll that found 50 percent of voters supported I-1631, while 36 percent opposed it and 14 percent were undecided. Big Oil is desperate to stop Washington from becoming an example of successful, grassroots climate action.

  • Scorecard: Only 29 percent of key Senate and gubernatorial debates featured a question about climate change

    Moderators and panelists asked candidates about the climate crisis in just 23 of 78 debates Media Matters analyzed

    Blog ››› ››› EVLONDO COOPER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    This page was updated on November 6, 2018, after the completion of all debates.

    Out of 78 key Senate and gubernatorial debates this year, only 23 featured a question about climate change, or 29 percent. Media Matters analyzed debates in close Senate and gubernatorial races to determine whether a moderator or panelist asked the candidates a climate question.

    This year's percentage was a modest improvement over 2016, when only 22 percent of key debates we analyzed included a moderator's or panelist's question about climate change.

    The percentage of debates this year that included a climate question went up dramatically after October 7, when the U.N. Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change issued a dire report explaining the extreme urgency of fighting climate change. In debates before the report came out, only 7 percent included a climate question. In debates after the report was released, 43 percent included at least one question about climate change from a moderator or panelist. For more analysis, see this post.

    For debates that featured a climate question, we have included video clips of the questions and answers below (and in some cases, links to transcripts). For all debates, we have listed the moderators, panelists, and sponsoring organizations, and posted links to full debate video or audio.

    We focused on competitive races -- those ranked by the Cook Political Report as being a "toss-up" or "lean R" or "lean D" as of September 19. Here are the races in which we tracked debates:

    Alaska governor Kansas governor North Dakota senator
    Arizona senator Maine governor Ohio governor
    Colorado governor Michigan governor Ohio senator
    Connecticut governor Minnesota governor Oregon governor
    Florida governor Minnesota senator Rhode Island governor
    Florida senator Missouri senator Tennessee senator
    Georgia governor Nevada governor Texas senator
    Illinois governor Nevada senator West Virginia senator
    Indiana senator New Mexico governor Wisconsin governor
    Iowa governor

     

    Alaska

    Climate threats: Alaska is at risk from extreme heat, coastal flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bill Walker (independent) -- incumbent -- (withdrew from race on October 19)
    Mike Dunleavy (R)
    Mark Begich (D)
    Billy Toien (Libertarian)

    debates:

    Date: September 5
    Hosted by: Greater Juneau Chamber of Commerce, KINY-AM
    Moderator: Pete Carran (KINY-AM host)
    Audio: KINY-AMY
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 10
    Hosted by: Anchorage Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Tim Thompson (Alaska Airlines spokesman)
    Video and partial transcript: Anchorage Daily News
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Alaska Airmen Association
    Moderators: Corey Hester (Alaska Airmen Association executive director), Adam White (Alaska Airmen Association government and legislative affairs director)
    Video: Anchorage Daily News
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 15
    Hosted by: Union of Students of the University of Alaska Anchorage, Anchorage Daily News, University of Alaska Anchorage Economics Club, Atwood Foundation, Seawolf Debate Program
    Moderator: Steve Johnson (Seawolf Debate Program director)
    VideoAnchorage Daily News' Facebook page
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted: Alaska Public Media, KTUU
    Moderated by: Lori Townsend (Alaska Public Radio Network news director), Mike Ross (KTUU anchor)
    Panelists: Andrew Kitchenman (KTOO reporter), Richard Mauer (KTUU reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Ross noted that climate change is driving Arctic warming before asking the candidates how they would balance Alaska's reliance on fossil fuels with the need to reduce carbon emissions. Panelist Mauer followed up by pressing the candidates further on how they would address climate change. Watch the video:

    Arizona

    Climate threats: Arizona is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Martha McSally (R)
    Kyrsten Sinema (D)

    debate:

    Date: October 15
    Hosted byThe Arizona Republic and Arizona PBS
    Moderators: Maria Polletta (Arizona Republic reporter), Ted Simons (Arizona PBS host)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Polletta asked McSally and Sinema whether they believe climate change is a human-caused problem and how they plan to combat it. See the transcript and video:

    Colorado

    Climate threats: Colorado is at risk from drought and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Walker Stapleton (R)
    Jared Polis (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 5
    Hosted by: Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, Denver Business Journal
    Moderator : Ed Sealover (Denver Business Journal reporter)
    Video9NEWS.com
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 5
    Hosted by: Colorado Public Television, CBS Denver, KOA Newsradio, The Colorado Sun
    Moderator: Shaun Boyd (CBS Denver political specialist)
    Panelists: Dominic Dezzutti (Colorado Public Television vice president of content), Marty Lenz (KOA Newsradio host), John Frank (The Colorado Sun reporter)
    VideoCBS Denver’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 6
    Hosted by: Rocky Mountain PBS, Colorado Mesa University, The Grand Junction Daily Sentinel
    Moderator: John Ferrugia (Rocky Mountain PBS managing editor)
    Panelists: Charles Ashby (Grand Junction Daily Sentinel reporter), Dennis Herzog (Colorado Mesa University adjunct lecturer)
    VideoRocky Mountain PBS’ YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 8
    Hosted byThe Pueblo Chieftain, 2020 Commission's Governance Task Force, Pueblo Community College's Center for New Media, Colorado State University-Pueblo
    Moderator: Steve Henson (The Pueblo Chieftain editor)
    VideoFOX21News.com
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 13
    Hosted by: KOAA-TV, The Gazette
    Moderator: Rob Quirk (KOAA-TV anchor)
    Panelists: Joey Bunch (Gazette political reporter), Elizabeth Watts (KOAA-TV anchor)
    VideoKOAA’S YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 17
    Hosted by: The Coloradoan, KUSA-TV, Colorado State University
    Moderators: Kyle Clark (KUSA anchor), Marshall Zelinger (KUSA political investigative reporter)
    Video: KUSA’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Clark noted the recent United Nations report on climate change, then asked Stapleton about Colorado’s decision to adopt California’s auto emissions standards and asked Polis about his support for a carbon tax. Watch the video:

    Date: October 23
    Hosted by: The Denver Post, ABC 7, University of Denver’s Center on American Politics
    Moderators: Anne Trujillo (ABC 7 anchor), Nic Garcia (The Denver Post political reporter)
    VideoTheDenverChannel.com
    Climate questions: Moderator Garcia asked the candidates about their plans to address climate change during their first year as governor, noting that climate was "the No. 1 topic" the public wanted to hear about. Moderator Trujillo followed up with a second question about climate change for Stapleton. See the transcript and video:

    Connecticut

    Climate threats: Connecticut is at risk from inland flooding and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bob Stefanowski (R)
    Ned Lamont (D)
    Oz Griebel (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 12
    Hosted by: Connecticut Conference of Independent Colleges, The Day
    Moderator: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV anchor/reporter)
    Panelists: Paul Choiniere (The Day editorial page editor), Izaskun E. Larrañeta (The Day deputy managing editor), Mark Davis (WTNH-TV chief political correspondent)
    VideoYouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 17
    Hosted by: Connecticut Association of Realtors, WTNH-TV
    Moderator: Michael Barbaro (Connecticut Association of Realtors president)
    Panelists: Mark Davis (WTNH-TV chief political correspondent), Kristi Olds (CTR.tv spokesperson), Russell Blair (The Hartford Courant content editor)
    VideoWTNH-TV YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 26
    Hosted by: WFSB-TV
    Moderator: Dennis House (WFSB anchor)
    Panelists: Emilie Munson (Hearst Media capital reporter), Chris Hanna (Daily Campus editor-in-chief)     
    Video: WFSB.com    
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: Connecticut Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: John Dankosky (WNPR news director)
    Panelists: Jennifer Bernstein (WTIC anchor), Keisha Grant (NBC Connecticut anchor), Dennis House (WFSB anchor), Keith Kountz (WTNH anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Dankosky referenced the United Nations’ recent report on climate change and noted that 60 percent of Connecticut residents want the governor to act on climate change, then asked the candidates what they would do about the problem. Watch the video:

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Connecticut Conference of Municipalities, WTNH-TV, The Hartford Courant
    Moderator: Ann Nyberg (WTNH-TV anchor)
    Panelists: Keith Kountz (WTNH-TV anchor), Daniela Altimari (The Hartford Courant correspondent), Joe DeLong (Connecticut Conference of Municipalities executive director)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 5
    Hosted by: WPLR
    Moderators: Chaz & AJ (WPLR hosts)
    VideoWSFB.com
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Florida

    Climate threats: Florida is at risk from extreme heat, inland flooding, and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Ron DeSantis (R)
    Andrew Gillum (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: CNN
    Moderator: Jake Tapper (CNN anchor and chief Washington correspondent)
    Video: CNN
    Climate questions: Moderator Tapper asked about climate change in his first question of the debate. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: Leadership Florida, Florida Press Association, Broward College
    Moderator: Todd McDermott (WPBF 25 News anchor)
    Panelists: Isadora Rangel (public affairs and engagement editor at Florida Today), Anthony Man (political writer at the Sun-Sentinel)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Senate candidates:

    Rick Scott (R)
    Bill Nelson (D) -- incumbent

    debate:

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Telemundo
    Moderators: Marilys Llanos (WSCV-TV reporter and presenter), Jackie Nespral (WTVJ-TV anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions

    Georgia

    Climate threats: Georgia is at risk from extreme heat, wildfires, inland flooding, and coastal flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Brian Kemp (R)
    Stacey Abrams (D)
    Ted Metz (Libertarian)

    debate:

    Date: October 23
    Hosted by: Atlanta Press Club
    Moderator: Lisa Rayam (Georgia Public Broadcasting capital correspondent)
    Panelists: Greg Bluestein (The Atlanta Journal-Constitution political reporter), Elwyn Lopez (WXIA reporter), Frank Malloy (WMAZ anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Illinois

    Climate threats: Illinois is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bruce Rauner (R) -- incumbent
    J.B. Pritzker (D)
    Kash Jackson (Libertarian)
    Sam McCann (Conservative)

    debates:

    Date: September 20
    Hosted by: NBC 5 (WMAQ-TV), Telemundo Chicago, Union League Club of Chicago, Chicago Urban League
    Moderator: Carol Marin (WMAQ-TV political editor)
    Video: YouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 3
    Hosted by: WLS-TV, Univision, League of Women Voters of Illinois Education
    Moderator: Alan Krashesky (WLS-TV anchor/reporter)
    Panelists: Craig Wall (WLS-TV political reporter), Erika Maldonado (Univision Chicago anchor)
    Video: ABC 7’s YouTube channel: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, Part 4
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 11
    Hosted by: WGEM, Illinois Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: Gene Kennedy (WGEM evening anchor/producer)
    Panelists: Natalie Will (WGEM anchor), Bobby Oler (HOI News), Caitlin Knute (WEEK-TV anchor), James Stratton (WREX anchor), Doug Wilson (Herald-Whig senior writer)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Indiana

    Climate threats: Indiana is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Mike Braun (R)
    Joe Donnelly (D) -- incumbent
    Lucy Brenton (Libertarian)

    debates:

    Date: October 8
    Hosted by: Indiana Debate Commission
    Moderator: Anne Ryder (Indiana University Media School senior lecturer)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Ryder asked Braun, Donnelly, and Brenton what the U.S. government should do to address climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Indiana Debate Commission
    Moderator: Amna Nawaz (PBS NewsHour anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Nawaz told the candidates that several voters were not satisfied with answers they gave about climate change during a previous debate. She then read a viewer question asking the candidates to detail what they would do specifically to combat climate change. Watch the video:

    Iowa

    Climate threats: Iowa is at risk from drought, inland flooding, and extreme heat, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Kim Reynolds (R) -- incumbent
    Fred Hubbell (D)

    Debates:

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: The Des Moines Register, KCCI-TV
    Moderators: Steve Karlin (KCCI anchor), Kathie Obradovich (The Des Moines Register)
    VideoKCCI’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 17
    Hosted by: KTIV-TV, KTTC-TV, KWWL-TV
    Moderator: Matt Breen (KTIV anchor)
    Panelists: Tom Overlie (KTTC anchor), Ron Steele (KWWL anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: KCRG-TV, KWQC-TV, The Quad-City Times
    Moderator: David Nelson (KWQC anchor)
    Panelists: Jenna Jackson (KWQC anchor/reporter), Forrest Saunders (KCRG anchor/reporter), Erin Murphy (Lee Enterprise Des Moines bureau chief)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Jackson referenced the recent United Nations report on climate change before asking the candidates if they accepted the science of climate change and the impact it will have globally. Watch the video:

    Kansas

    Climate threats: Kansas is at risk from extreme heat, drought, wildfires, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Kris Kobach (R)
    Laura Kelly (D)
    Greg Orman (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 5
    Hosted by: Johnson County Bar Association
    Moderator: Nick Haines (KCPT-TV news host/executive producer)
    Video: KCPT-TV YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 8
    Hosted by: Kansas State Fair, WIBW
    Moderator: Greg Akagi (WIBW farm and sports broadcaster)
    VideoWIBW’S Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KOFO        
    AudioKOFO’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: Southwest Kansas Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Marieta Hauser (Grant County Chamber of Commerce director)
    AudioKSCB News.net
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 30
    Hosted by: Nexstar Broadcasting Group
    Moderator: Jeff Herndon (KSN anchor) 
    Panelists: Jessica Schaer (KSN anchor), Bob Beatty (KSNT political analyst)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Maine

    Climate threats: Maine is at risk from extreme heat, drought, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Shawn Moody (R)
    Janet Mills (D)
    Terry Hayes (independent)
    Alan Caron (independent) (withdrew from race on October 29)

    debates:

    Date: September 10
    Hosted by: Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Beckie Conrad (Lewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce president)
    VideoLewiston Auburn Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: September 13
    Hosted by: Environmental & Energy Technology Council of Maine (E2Tech)
    Moderator: Carol Coultas (Portland Press Herald business editor)
    VideoGoogle Drive
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions, despite the fact that the debate was focused on the topics of energy and the environment. But the candidates did address climate change in their answers to some questions.  

    Date: October 3
    Hosted by: Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Quincy Hentzel (Portland Regional Chamber of Commerce, CEO)
    VideoPortland Chamber of Commerce’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: Portland Press Herald, University of New England
    Moderator: Carol Coultas (Portland Press Herald business editor)
    Panelists: Bill Nemitz (Portland Press Herald columnist), Greg Kesich (Portland Press Herald editorial page editor)
    Video: Portland Press Herald’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Panelist Nemitz and moderator Coultas asked questions that spurred a discussion about climate change and renewable energy. See the transcript and video:

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: WMTW Channel 8
    Moderator: Meghan Torjussen (WMTW anchor)
    Panelists: Paul Merrill (WMTW political reporter), John Small (WABI assistant news director), Katie Zarrilli (WAGM reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Small asked the candidates to discuss their plans to address the impacts of climate change and transition Maine to renewable energy. Watch the video:

    Date: October 28
    Hosted by: Maine Public
    Moderator: Jennifer Rooks (Maine Public public affairs host/producer)
    Panelists: Steve Mistler (Main Public chief political correspondent), Mal Leary (Maine Public political correspondent) 
    VideoMaine Public.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: WGME
    Moderator: Gregg Lagerquist (WGME anchor)
    Panelist: Mike Shepherd (The Bangor Daily News reporter)
    VideoThe Bangor Daily News’ Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelist did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Michigan

    Climate threats: Michigan is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Bill Schuette (R)
    Gretchen Whitmer (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 12
    Hosted by: WOOD-TV
    Moderator: Rick Albin (WOOD-TV political reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: WDIV-TV
    Moderators: Kimberly Gill (WDIV-TV anchor), Devin Scillian (WDIV-TV anchor) 
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Scillian referenced the United Nations report on climate change, then asked the candidates if they agreed with the 14 governors who pledged to abide by the terms of the Paris agreement and what their approaches would be to combating climate change. Watch the video:

    Minnesota

    Climate threats: Minnesota is at risk from drought and extreme heat, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Jeff Johnson (R)
    Tim Walz (D)

    debates:

    Date: August 17
    Hosted by: Twin Cities PBS
    Moderators: Cathy Wurzer (Almanac host), Eric Eskola (Almanac host)
    VideoTwin Cities PBS.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Wurzer asked Johnson and Walz how they would enable cities to respond and adapt to climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: August 31
    Hosted by: Minnesota Public Radio (MPR)
    Moderator: Mike Mulcahy (MPR political editor)
    VideoMPR News Facebook page
    Climate questions: Moderator Mulcahy asked both Johnson and Walz about their positions on climate change. See the transcript and video:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: TwinWest Chamber of Commerce
    Moderator: Nick Halter (Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal senior reporter/broadcaster)
    VideoYouTube
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 9
    Hosted by: Minnesota Corn Growers Association, WCCO Minnesota AgriGrowth
    Moderators: Chad Hartman (WCCO host), Blois Olson (WCCO political analyst)
    AudioWBRN Radio’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 21
    Hosted by: Metropolitan State University
    Moderators: Paul Folger (KSTP anchor), Leah McLean (KSTP anchor/reporter)
    VideoWDIO’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: November 2
    Hosted by: Twin Cities PBS
    Moderators: Cathy Wurzer (Almanac host), Eric Eskola (Almanac host)
    VideoTwin Cities PBS.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Wurzer asked the candidates if they would increase renewable energy standards and encourage new technologies or let the free market decide the best way to meet state goals for greenhouse gas reduction. Watch the video:    

    Missouri

    Climate threats: Missouri is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Josh Hawley (R)
    Claire McCaskill (D) -- incumbent
    Jo Crain (Green)
    Craig O’Dear (independent)

    debateS:

    Date: September 14
    Hosted by: Missouri Press Association
    Moderator: David Lieb (Associated Press correspondent)
    VideoHawley’s Facebook page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: St. Louis Public Radio, KSDK-TV's 5 On Your Side, Nine Network of Public Media
    Moderator: Judy Woodruff (PBS NewsHour managing editor) 
    Panelists: Jo Mannies (St. Louis Public Radio reporter), Mike Bush (5 On Your Side anchor)
    VideoPBS NewsHour’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions, although an audience member did.

    Date: October 25
    Hosted by: KMBC  
    Moderators: Kris Ketz (KMBC anchor), Micheal Mahoney (KMBC correspondent)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask a climate-related question.

    Nevada

    Climate threats: Nevada is at risk from drought, extreme heat, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Adam Laxalt (R)
    Steve Sisolak (D)

    No debates were held.

    Senate candidates:

    Dean Heller (R)
    Jacky Rosen (D)

    debate:

    Date: October 19
    Hosted by: Telemundo, News 4 (KRNV-DT), News 3 (KSNV-TV)
    Moderator: Denise Valez (KLAS anchor)
    Panelists: Steve Sebelius (KLAS anchor), Tsi-Tsi-Ki Félix (KINC anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Sebelius noted the United Nations’ recent report on climate change and listed some of the dangers of climate change like droughts, extreme heat, and poverty, then asked the candidates what policies they would support to address climate change. Watch the video:

    New Mexico

    Climate threats: New Mexico is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Steve Pearce (R)
    Michelle Lujan Grisham (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: KRQE-TV
    Moderator: Dean Staley (KRQE-TV anchor)
    VideoNews 13 (KRQE-TV) YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KOB Channel 4
    Moderators: Tessa Mentus (KOB anchor), Steve Soliz (KOB anchor)
    Video: KOB.com
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 24
    Hosted by: KOAT-TV, Albuquerque Journal
    Moderator: Doug Fernandez (KOAT anchor)
    Panelists: Shelly Ribando (KOAT anchor), Kent Walz (Albuquerque Journal senior editor)
    VideoKOAT.com
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    North Dakota

    Climate threats: North Dakota is at risk from extreme heat and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Kevin Cramer (R)
    Heidi Heitkamp (D) -- incumbent

    debates:

    Date: October 18
    Hosted by: North Dakota Newspaper Association
    Moderator: Korrie Wenzel (Grand Forks Herald publisher)
    Panelists: Steve Wagner (Grand Forks Herald editor), Cecile Wehrman (Journal Publishing president), Owen Piehl (The MHS Courier editor)
    VideoGrand Forks Herald.com
    Climate questions: Panelist Wagner asked the candidates what the United States should do to address global climate change given that North Dakota’s economy relies on oil and coal development. Watch the video:

    Ohio

    Climate threats: Ohio is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Mike DeWine (R)
    Richard Cordray (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 19
    Hosted by: University of Dayton, Cox Media Group Ohio
    Moderator: James Brown (WHIO-TV news anchor)
    Panelists: Jim Otte (WHIO-TV investigative reporter), Laura Bischoff (Dayton Daily News reporter), Christopher Devine (University of Dayton assistant professor of political science)
    VideoCBS News YouTube page 
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 1
    Hosted by: Marietta College
    Moderator: Colleen Marshall (NBC 4 anchor)
    Video: NBC 4’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the townhall.

    Date: October 8
    Hosted by: Cleveland State University, Ohio Debate Commission
    Moderator: Karen Kasler (Ohio Public Radio and Television statehouse bureau chief)
    Panelists: Jackie Borchardt (Cincinnati Enquirer Columbus bureau chief), Jerry Revish (WBNS-TV anchor)
    VideoWLWT’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Senate candidates:

    Jim Renacci (R)
    Sherrod Brown (D) -- incumbent

    debates:

    Date: October 14
    Hosted by: Ohio Debate Commission
    Moderators: Ann Fisher (WOSU Public Media host), Russ Mitchell (WKYC-TV anchor)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Fisher asked Renacci and Brown for their reactions to the recent United Nations report on climate change. See the video and transcript here:

    Date: October 20
    Hosted by: WCMH, WOSU
    Moderator: Colleen Marshall (WCMH anchor)
    Panelists: Mark Allan (WDTN anchor), Mike Jackson (WCMH anchor), Mike Thompson (WOSU director)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Panelist Jackson referenced the United Nations' recent climate report before asking Renacci if he agreed with President Trump's climate denial. Watch the video:

    Date: October 26
    Hosted by: WLWT
    Moderator: Sheree Paolello (WLWT anchor)
    Panelists: Ashley Kirkien (WLWT anchor/reporter), Curtis Fuller (WLWT anchor/reporter), Dr. John Forren (Miami University (Ohio) associate professor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Oregon

    Climate threats: Oregon is at risk from drought, wildfires, extreme heat, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Knute Buehler (R)
    Kate Brown (D) -- incumbent
    Patrick Starnes (Independent Party of Oregon)

    debates:

    Date: October 2
    Hosted by: Children First for Oregon, KOIN-TV, Pamplin Media Group
    Moderators: Jeff Gianola (KOIN-TV anchor), Shasta Kearns Moore (Portland Tribune education reporter) 
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: There were no climate-related questions asked during the debate.

    Date: October 4
    Hosted by: KOBI-TV
    Moderator: Craig Smullin (KOBI/KOTI news director)
    Panelists: Kristin Hosfelt (KOBI/KOTI executive producer and anchor), Patricia Smullin (KOBI/KOTI president)
    Video: KOBI-TV’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 9
    Hosted by: KGW-TV, The Oregonian
    Moderator: Tracy Barry (KGW anchor)
    Panelists: Steve Duin (Oregonian columnist), Hillary Borrud (Oregonian reporter), Laural Porter (KGW anchor)
    Video: KGW’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Panelist Duin asked both Buehler and Brown about leadership in addressing climate change, and a voter asked a question about clean energy. See the transcript and video:

    Rhode Island

    Climate threats: Rhode Island is at risk from extreme heat, coastal flooding, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Allan Fung (R)
    Gina Raimondo (D) -- incumbent
    Joe Trillo (independent)

    debates:

    Date: September 27
    Hosted by: Roger Williams University
    Moderator: Danielle North (WPRI-TV anchor) 
    Panelists: Tim White (WPRI-TV investigative reporter), Ted Nesi (WPRI-TV political/economic reporter) 
    VideoWPRI-12’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 15
    Hosted byThe Providence Journal, The Public's Radio, University of Rhode Island
    Moderator: Ian Donnis (The Public’s Radio political reporter)
    Panelists: Patrick Anderson (The Providence Journal reporter), Lianna Blakeman (The Good Five editor-in-chief)
    VideoThe Providence Journal’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Blakeman, a student journalist, mentioned the recent United Nations' report on climate change and asked the candidates how they would protect the state's coastline. Watch the video:

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: WJAR, American Democracy Project
    Moderator: Gene Valicenti (WJAR anchor)
    VideoWPRI.com
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.
     

    Tennessee

    Climate threats: Tennessee is at risk from extreme heat, drought, inland flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Marsha Blackburn (R)
    Phil Bredesen (D)

    Debates:

    Date: September 25
    Hosted by: The Tennessean, League of Women Voters of Tennessee, WTVF-TV, WNPT-TV
    Moderators: Rhori Johnston (WTVF-TV anchor), David Plazas (The Tennessean opinion engagement editor)
    Video: The Tennessean’s YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 10
    Hosted by: Howard H. Baker Jr. Center for Public Policy, Nextar Media Group
    Moderator: Katina Rankin (WATN anchor)
    Panelists: Richard Ransom (WATN anchor), Kristin Farley (WATE anchor), Bob Mueller (WKRN anchor)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Texas

    Climate threats: Texas is at risk from extreme heat, drought, coastal flooding, and wildfires, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Ted Cruz (R) -- incumbent
    Beto O’Rourke (D)

    debates:

    Date: September 21
    Hosted by: Southern Methodist University, The Dallas Morning News, KXAS-TV
    Moderators: Julie Fine (KXAS-TV political reporter), Gromer Jeffers (The Dallas Morning News political writer)
    Video: NBC News YouTube page
    Climate questions: The moderators did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 16
    Hosted by: KENS Channel 5
    Moderators: Sarah Forgany (KENS 5 news anchor), Jason Whitely (WFAA senior reporter)
    Video: C-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: Moderator Whitely asked Cruz about his history of climate change denial. See the transcript and video:

    West Virginia

    Climate threats: West Virginia is at risk from extreme heat and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Senate candidates:

    Patrick Morrisey (R)   
    Joe Manchin (D) -- incumbent

    Debate:

    Date: November 1
    Hosted by: West Virginia Broadcasters Association
    Moderator: Hoppy Kercheval (MetroNews host)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Wisconsin

    Climate threats: Wisconsin is at risk from extreme heat, drought, and inland flooding, among other threats.

    Governor candidates:

    Scott Walker (R) -- incumbent
    Tony Evers (D)

    debates:

    Date: October 19
    Hosted by: Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
    Moderator: Jill Geisler (journalist)
    Panelists: Leigh Mills (WMTV anchor), Jessica Arp (WISC reporter), Emilee Fannon (WKOW reporter), Lupita Montoto (La Movida Radio host)
    VideoC-SPAN.org
    Climate questions: The moderator and panelists did not ask any climate-related questions.

    Date: October 26
    Hosted by: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
    Moderators: Charles Benson (WTMJ-TV anchor), Shannon Sims (WTMJ-TV anchor), Mitch Teich (WUWM-FM host)
    VideoWisconsinEye’s YouTube channel
    Climate questions: Moderator Sims asked a reader question submitted via Twitter that noted extreme weather in Wisconsin and inquired how the candidates would mitigate the effects of climate change. Watch the video: