In wake of Sandy, media finally talks climate

Nov 1, 2012 by

Grist

1 Nov 2012 9:46 AM

In wake of Sandy, media may finally be willing to discuss climate change

By Philip Bump

 

Yesterday, Wen Stephenson, a former Boston Globe editor (and occasional Grist contributor), described how the paper’s inaction on climate changeprompted him to focus on activism from outside the media. Perhaps he should have stuck around a bit longer.Josh Tyrangiel is the editor of Bloomberg Businessweek. This morning he tweeted:

Our cover story this week may generate controversy, but only among the stupid. buswk.co/PIUzUl via @BW

This cover story:


The scale and destruction of Hurricane Sandy has made the issue of climate change impossible to ignore. It’s as if the media and politicians are at last free to discuss something they have been keeping secret — which is basically the case.

Ruby Cramer at BuzzFeed has done a good job assessing this new openness.

“Folks, second year in a row the New York metro area has been [hit] by this stuff,” said [Chuck] Todd, NBC News’s Chief White House Correspondent and host of “The Daily Rundown” on MSNBC. “Let’s not bury our heads in the sand when it comes to something has changed in the Atlantic. The climate has changed. It’s called climate change, folks.”

Earlier in the show — in a panel discussion with analysts Perry Bacon and Anita Dunn — Todd wondered whether Sandy could bring climate change back into the conversation. “I don’t think it does. It’s very late politically,” Bacon responded, adding that “we as a press have not covered this huge issue in the way we should have.”

When even the business-deferential CNBC feels as though it should ask about climate change, something has shifted.

While other outlets have come proudly marching into the light (except, probably, those in still-dark lower Manhattan), The New York Times has decided to play scold, despite its strong track record of climate coverage. “Are Humans to Blame? Science Is Out” is the headline of today’s story, which features enough chin-stroking to provide about 40 megawatts of renewable friction energy. Foreign Policy is more direct: “We Are All Venetians Now” focuses on an issue the Times saves for its last two paragraphs, the rising ocean. (Credit where it’s due: the Times‘ Nick Kristof has a solid climate change essay today.)

From deep in the shadows, even Fox got in on the climate action, if only to mock it. This morning’s Fox and Friends, a show featuring uncute Teletubbies, teased a discussion of climate change.

Fox&Friends teases segment with expert who says Al Gore’s climate change claims are “nothing but an inconvenient truth.”

If they were trying to disparage climate change by calling it an “inconvenient truth,” they failed. Roger Ailes will not be pleased.

 

Philip Bump writes about the news for Gristmill. He also uses Twitter a whole lot.

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