Acknowledging Climate Change is Political, But the Media Shouldn’t Play Along

Acknowledging Climate Change is Political, But the Media Shouldn’t Play Along

With more than 18 months to go before the 2020 American Presidential election, it’s never too soon to bemoan the media’s failure to learn lessons from its compromised 2016 campaign coverage. False equivalence is alive and well on the Internet and television airwaves. President Trump and his den of incompetents, thieves and hooligans flog Democratic Minnesota Rep. Ilhan Omar and her hotly contested remarks (we don’t need to repeat them here), cynically splicing 9/11 news coverage with her words to gin up the ignorant, misogynist, white supremacist base. Propaganda at its most rudimentary and apparently effective.

Meanwhile, the current Leader of the Free World lets his racist flag fly unabashed, creating white nationalist policies stemming from personal hatred, and we’re all supposed to pretend this is normal.  The mainstream media acts as a full co-conspirator in this national gas lighting. As The Atlantic’s Vann R. Newkirk II wrote in late February:

“[Trump] has a pattern of racism that goes deeper than his campaign and time in office. At this point, open bigotry seems to be the substance of much of his engagement with people of color….

But on the issue of racism, Trump has somehow proved resilient. He unwittingly practices a form of bigoted mithridatism, building up a superhuman tolerance for scandal himself, and desensitizing voters with continued regular exposure to doses of racism.”

That “resiliency” – and that of the Republican Party’s other worst impulses – is fully enabled by our corporatized, monetized media apparatus. Yes, I’m aware that I’m conflating Donald with the GOP. Show me some real and evident #NeverTrump evidence that this is a mistaken presumption (Hi, Mitt Romney!).

Another hot bed of derelict media both siderism can be found on the topic of climate change. The Green New Deal championed by the far left is “unaffordable” and it seems, more impractical than the rapid destruction of the planet and the life found upon it.  SMH, you silly, hippie kids today.

But the President claims that wind turbines cause cancer and deregulates the fossil fuel industry with abandon, and the media asks, Will President Donald Trump’s new climate change panel give him good advice?

In a word, no.

Listen, partisan media coverage is nothing new in this country, and it really took off on October 7, 1996 with the launch of the Fox News Channel. Those were the heady 1990s, when the station surfed the anti-Clinton airwaves (a tradition that the House of Murdoch proudly continues) to ratings glory. However the inability of the supposedly disinterested outlets to acknowledge the dangerous insanity that bleeds from the core of today’s GOP is a creeping threat that presents real, global peril.

This week, Blogger Evlondo Cooper of Media Matters acknowledged Democratic leadership on environmental policy, and accused the media of ducking responsibility for more proactive journalistic coverage. In the piece Sunday Morning Political Shows Cover Climate Change in March Thanks to Democratic Presidential Hopefuls, he writes:

“The five major Sunday shows aired a combined six segments in March that included substantive discussion of climate change, and all of them were interviews with [Democratic] 2020 hopefuls.

In March, the shows missed opportunities to engage in meaningful conversations about climate change beyond interviews with Democratic presidential contenders. None of the shows’ hosts asked questions about the historic and calamitous Midwest flooding that took place last month…The Sunday shows even failed to address the political maneuvering around the recent Senate vote on the Green New Deal, which is an odd omission for programs that are normally so focused on political fights and one-upmanship. The shows still have work to do to increase the quality and quantity of their climate coverage.”

Yes, the mainstream media is cordially invited to cover an issue of increasing global security and humanitarian catastrophe with a semblance of factual urgency. Feel free to do the same with white supremacy, misogyny and the shoving of the nation’s wealth ever farther upward toward the one percent. You’ve got a hard job to do, well-funded journalism folks, no doubt. Trump surely hasn’t made it easier on you. But do it. Our very survival depends upon it.

Becky Sarwate

Becky Sarwate

Becky is an award-winning journalist, Op-Ed columnist and blogger. On March 29, 2018 her first book, Cubsessions: Famous Fans of Chicago’s North Side Baseball Team, will be published by Eckhartz Press. She is a proud Chicago resident, where Becky lives with her husband Bob. Check out her collected work at, and follow her on Twitter @BeckySarwate.