Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse Lambasts Media's Poor Climate Change Coverage

Sheldon: “Polluters So Often G[e]t Their Way On The Editorial Page”

From an April 1 Capitol Hill Hearing recorded on C-SPAN2:

Video file

SEN. SHELDON WHITEHOUSE (D-RI): There are cracks in the foundation already.

Some leading news sources have begun to put climate denial into their policy against printing misinformation and discredited theories. They just won't print that nonsense.

Many executives recognize the significance of climate change and are distancing their companies from the policies and politics of climate denial. They don't want any part of that nonsense.

And many local officials are doing all they can to protect their communities from the effects of climate change. They know climate denial is nonsense.

It's been wrong that the climate change denial campaign has been so ignored by major media outlets. Media Matters found that all the major network Sunday TV talk shows, in all of 2013, discussed climate change for a grand total, all combined, of 27 minutes.

NBC's Meet the Press never mentioned climate change once. When several of the Sunday shows discussed climate change on February 16 this year for a grand total of 46 minutes combined, it was more climate coverage than the past three years.

It's been wrong that polluters so often got their way on the editorial page, whether through a desire to appear fair and balanced or a willful effort to help polluters, newspapers still publish editorials or letters to the editor that dispute consensus science, disparage scientists or journalists who report the truth about climate change, and exaggerate the costs of taking action to stop it.

Often their authors have direct ties to coal and oil interests and rarely is the connection disclosed. As you can see from this chart, some papers do it more than others. The denier champ is the Wall Street Journal editorial page, with eight denier letters in the first ten months of 2013. That's one every five weeks. I think they have actually joined the denier apparatus and are now a part of the scheme. But they are on the wrong side of history.

On the right side is the Los Angeles Times, whose editorial page last year released a note from editor Paul Thornton announcing they would no longer print climate denial letters.

Thornton's note read -- I'll quote it here: “I do my best to keep errors of fact off the letters page. When one does run, a correction is published saying 'there's no sign humans have caused climate change' is not stating opinion. It's asserting a factual inaccuracy.” End quote.

Reddit. Reddit is one of the internet's most popular social networking and news website. The front page of the internet. According to the Pew research center, one in every 17 online American adults uses Reddit. Reddit science has four million subscribers. That's more than -- that's about twice, I should say -- about twice the circulation of The New York Times. Reddit Science has banned posts on climate denial because, as its moderator Dr. Nathan Allan explained, I'll quote, “we require submissions to Reddit Science to be related to recent publications in reputable peer-reviewed journals which effectively excludes any climate denial.”

The LA Times and Reddit Science are not alone in seeing that climate deniers' castle is built on lies. More and more American corporations are responding to the facts, understanding that they are ultimately responsible to their shareholders and customers.

Major utilities, for example -- PG&E, Public Service Company of New Mexico, Exelon -- all quit the U.S. Chamber of Commerce after chamber officials called for putting climate science on trial like the Scope's monkey trial of 1925. The chamber may have been infiltrated and captured by the polluters, but major corporations get it. Coke and Pepsi, UPS and FedEx, GM and Ford, Google and Apple, Walmart -- you can go on and on.

The denier castle is crumbling.


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