The clean energy revolution will not be televised, Part 2: Kathleen Hall Jamieson lambastes MSM for under-reporting climate bill death of Walter Cronkite has inspired me to do a follow-up to “The clean energy revolution will not be televised as big media beat it and even Farrah’s death gets bigger play.

I wonder how Cronkite would have covered the death of Michael Jackson.  Somehow I suspect he wouldn’t have waited until the end of the CBS Evening News to say, as Katie Couric did:

Michael Jackson’s sudden death and the mystery surrounding it captivated the world, or much of it, eclipsing other news. Jeff Glor now tells us some of the stories that happened in the last two weeks that are definitely worth noting.

That clip was actually used as an opening segment for an examination of the media’s coverage of Jackson’s death by PBS’s Newshour (video and transcript here).  This PBS story is noteworthy because of the remarks by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg Public Policy Center.

Jamieson launched into an extended critique of the media’s non-coverage of the climate bill, which is all the more remarkable because it reveals that, unlike the overwhelming majority of media pundits, she follows the issue closely — no doubt because she recognizes its seminal importance to the American public:

There’s a role for the coverage. I’m not suggesting that Michael Jackson’s death and his legacy aren’t newsworthy. But, rather, the question is one of proportion.

When you look at news and what you see is that the accountability function was missing on climate change, we didn’t get good stories that asked, how much of the House bill actually captured what candidate Obama had promised?

There weren’t the news stories in many places that let the process ask the question, will this legislation do what it promises? Is a 17 percent reduction in emissions by 2020 over a 2005 base actually going to address this serious problem of global warming?

We also didn’t have the fact-testing. The costs per household of this legislation are widely different across various partisan sources. And as a result, news didn’t perform the functions it needs to perform to keep the political process honest and accountable.

And when that happens, advertising becomes the means by which the public learns about this legislation. That’s partisan and one-sided. Special interests, influence, and money gain impact.

And, finally, the public loses the connection between campaigning and governance. Candidate Obama promised climate change legislation. He’s trying to deliver. When the public doesn’t realize candidates try and often as presidents to deliver on their promises, they become more cynical about governance.

In other words, when news is distracted and doesn’t do its job because it doesn’t keep things in proportion, democracy isn’t as well-served as it needs to be.

Hear!  Hear!

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15 Responses to The clean energy revolution will not be televised, Part 2: Kathleen Hall Jamieson lambastes MSM for under-reporting climate bill

  1. Jeff Huggins says:


    In my view, the dismal and insufficient degree and quality of media coverage (of this issue, related issues, and a few others too) are a HUGE part of the problem. Shortly, I’ll be sending some information on DVD that I think is quite enlightening, and “chilling”, to a selected few in the media and among those involved in covering this issue. I’m doing the very best I can do.

    Be Well,


  2. Rick says:

    It’s a strange world where the minutia of celebrities lives and deaths captivate everybody while the important stuff gets ignored. It’s one reason I think this climate control effort is doomed to failure.

  3. K. Nockles says:

    It is really disheartening that an issue that affects the world is so undercovered, and that steps to deal with it are back page news.(or no page news). And if I have to watch one more tribute to Micheal Jackson, 17 is probably enough don’t you think? I’ll damage my TV.

  4. “She (Kathleen Hall Jamieson) recognizes its (climate action) seminal importance to the American public” is a nice turn of words. Great blog!

  5. ecostew says:

    So is the media not capable of reporting science-informed & and fact-based, rather than opinions news? Or, is FOX an example of corporate/religious right dominance of the media to come?

  6. News Flash to Larry King, Wolf Blitzer and network news anchors: If you spent the same hours research and airtime on raising Americans’ awareness on clean energy as you spent on Michael Jackson over the past two weeks, our country would be much better off. The peril that humanity faces as a result of climate change far outweighs any extended entertainment story you could find. Climate change and clean energy not sexy enough? We face a complete forced migration, water disasters, wars, flooding, famine, and total breakdown of the human race as we know it. Surely you can find something sensational in there. What is it you don’t understand? This is not a time to be dancing on the Titanic!

  7. BBHY says:

    Not only do we need more coverage, but better coverage of climate as well. When the MSM does find time to cover climate, they seem to feel the need to provide “balance” by include some crazed denier(s).

    When I say crazed, I mean the always make some assertion as if it were a known fact even though it has already been thoroughly debunked, over and over again.

    Sadly, making these assertions has proved to be a good strategy. It makes the subject “controversial”, wich makes it more attractive to the MSM. It also steers the discussion into debunking denier myths instead of explaining what is actually happening in the real world.

  8. Larry Coleman says:

    The MSM reporters do not understand science in particular, or technical subjects in general, which is partly why they are journalists. Thus, they feel incapable of presenting the scientific consensus, or in this case, the climate science consensus, or in dealing with the issues mentioned above. Four hundred years ago, they would have given equal time to the Church and Galileo while thinking that they had done a fine job.

  9. Leland Palmer says:

    And the lack of coverage robbed the Democrats of the momentum they need to carry the climate bill in the Senate.

    It’s just the possible end of the biosphere, nothing to see here, people, just move along.

    Our media is a controlled media, no less than the Soviet media was. It’s a lot more subtle, but no less controlled, IMO.

  10. Rick Covert says:

    Its an irony that the MSM finds abundant time to report on the deaths of celebrities, there have been 3 including Michael Jackson, (Karl Malden, Farah Fawcett and Michael Jackson) but no time at all to focus on the legislation, the fundamental changes in the focus of our economy and technologies to save civilzation and by direct relation our lives.

  11. radyo dinle says:

    It is really disheartening that an issue that affects the world is so undercovered, and that steps to deal with it are back page news.(or no page news). And if I have to watch one more tribute to Micheal Jackson, 17 is probably enough don’t you think? I’ll damage my TV.

  12. J4zonian says:

    There’s no such thing as irony. Irony is just what we call it when we don’t understand a system well enough to logically explain observed events. The system in question here is human psychology; the mechanisms are splitting and projection—in common terms, denial, but that doesn’t explain anything, it just labels it. That’s a common phenomenon of human psychology, the tendency to think of nouns as full explanations–or at least full enough to stop further investigation. So I guess that makes nouns the Warren Commissions of human thought. Irony, denial…are we going to be satisfied by such terms or are we each going to investigate psychology enough to not only explain but do something about the behaviors?

    Rick understands that there’s a connection between focus on the deaths of a few and ignor-ance of the impending deaths of trillions. We need to go further.

  13. Phil Eisner says:

    My experience of life after 75 years on this planet is that celebrities are mostly entertainers and have always been adored by the public and its media to the virtual exclusion of science and scientists. I noted and detested this behavior since I was a boy in elementary school. In fact, the daily news on television is an entertainment and the more entertaining the better. So we have murders, and sensational deaths, and controversies (even if contrived like global warming). So you can despair like I do, but it is unlikely it will change except for a few exceptions.

  14. J4zonian says:

    It is not so in my case; it seems it is not so in yours. Why can’t it be not-so in others?

    Everything changes; therefore everything is changeable,

    and the feeling of despair has more to do with internal tissue states and repeating stories we tell ourselves than external reality. There is always hope until there isn’t, and none of us knows when it is really all gone.