Fuggedaboutit: No Climate Change Questions For Chris Christie During Interview Blitz On Superstorm Sandy

The seat may have been hot, but the questions weren't.

Early this month, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made headlines when he ripped into his fellow Republicans in the House of Representatives for allowing their political gamesmanship over spending and budgets to torpedo an aid package for Hurricane Sandy. Then last week, Governor Christie did the rounds on five different national television networks to discuss the GOP’s current dysfunction and the destruction the superstorm left throughout his state.

But despite the extensive coverage, there was one issue that was noteworthy for its complete and utter absence. After tracking the five interviews, Salon reporter David Sirota noted that Christie was not asked about climate change once:

Somehow, in interviews with every major national television news organization about an unprecedentedly severe weather event, Christie wasn’t asked about climate change. That’s right, he wasn’t asked about whether Hurricane Sandy changes his views on climate change or whether Hurricane Sandy means we should address climate change more urgently. He wasn’t asked whether homes should be rebuilt in New Jersey’s climate-change-threatened areas. He wasn’t even asked why he didn’t mention climate change in his first state of the state following the hurricane.

Indeed, he wasn’t challenged with a single question about the entire issue. Not one.

As Sirota notes, this latest punt on the issue of climate change is part of a larger media trend. A recent study by Media Matters found that coverage of the topic collapsed on both the Sunday shows and the nightly news after 2009. The nightly news reports have modestly improved since 2010, but remain severely depressed from their 2009 peak. Their more prominent Sunday competitors are still scraping the bottom of the barrel.

Christie himself is self-contradictory on the question of climate change. He’s bluntly stated that “it’s real,” that “human activity plays a role,” that it’s “impacting our state,” and that “it’s time to defer” to the 90 percent of scientists who agree with those assessments. But in May of 2011, Christie pulled New Jersey out of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, a multi-state alliance along the northeast and the Atlantic seaboard to set up a regional cap-and-trade system. Like Mitt Romney and Jon Huntsman, Christie took the political risk of stating climate change is a problem and humans contribute to it, but then torpedoed actual policy to address those human contributions under pressure from his fellow conservatives and the rise of the Tea Party.

Human-driven global warming raises sea surface temperatures, which in turn drives up the energy of these storms as they form over the ocean. The higher temperatures increase water vapor in the air, leading to 5 to 10 percent more rainfall and an increased risk of flooding. Even the unusual high pressure system that drove Sandy into the northeastern coast rather than back out to sea has been linked to global warming.

In December 2012, 69 percent of New York State residents told a Siena Research Institiutue poll that they blamed climate change for Sandy. And in November of that year, 57 percent of Americans told the National Journal that they thought climate change will make storms like Sandy more likely.

All that, combined with Christie’s politically heterodox, outspoken, and pugnacious nature, his own mercurial record on climate change, his governorship of the state devastated by one of 2012’s most extreme weather events, it’s remarkable that the networks didn’t pose him a single question on the matter. As Sirota observed, “It seems there is now an unspoken rule in television news mandating that the topic of climate change is to be eschewed when at all possible.”

Related Posts:

15 Responses to Fuggedaboutit: No Climate Change Questions For Chris Christie During Interview Blitz On Superstorm Sandy

  1. prokaryotes says:

    The lamestream media is a big player when it comes to systematically denial of climate science.

  2. prokaryotes says:

    Coverage of climate issues, even in this year of searing heat and falling records, continues to be abysmal. Apparently, coverage of the biggest issue of the millennium is not yet considered essential enough to bump Honey BooBoo and Kim Kardashian off the mainstream media.
    In Four Years, Sunday Shows Have Not Quoted A Single Scientist On Climate Change.
    Sunday Shows Obscured Scientific Consensus On Climate Change.

  3. Larry Chamblin says:

    David Gregory of Meet the Press regularly ignores climate change. In his interview with Colin Powell last Sunday, Powell mentioned the issue as one of many that Republicans have refused to address. Gregory quickly asked another question on an entirely different topic, totally ignoring climate change.

  4. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The biggest issue of all human history, and we’re the only ones who do ‘issues’. Capitalism, by making the accumulation of money by a tiny, ruthless, elite, the prime objective of human existence, is radically antithetical to human existence on this planet. Until that is recognised (and the MSM propaganda system, being an integral feature of the system, can and will NEVER do so)we are on a one-way trip to extinction.

  5. Paul Magnus says:

    I guess there might be another hurricane next year then… mother nature does not like to be ignored.

  6. Mike Roddy says:

    This is no oversight. “News” is heavily managed by editors, who in turn are controlled by their advertisers. All questions from reporters are vetted, and “we climate people” are an interest group that they have chosen to ignore.

    The situation is beyond absurd. All of our major media companies are being discredited here, maybe forever.

  7. Paul Magnus says:

    “Superstorm Sandy was a threshold for the north-east and we have already crossed it,”

    US east-coast cities are ‘sitting ducks’ for storms

  8. Superman1 says:

    If Christie really cared about the issue, he could have brought it up himself. He doesn’t care, and the media don’t care. I suspect we’ve gone past the point of no return, and it is irrelevant whether anyone cares.

  9. Henry says:

    I would be willing to bet that Christi’s ‘handlers’ asked the different news orgs NOT to ask about Climate change during these interviews. All politicians feel uncomfortable talking about it because it is such a controversial subject.
    Avoiding the question avoids the chance of a controversial answer.

  10. Rick says:

    He’ll care when NJ is wiped off the map, from the next storm(s), and there will be more.

  11. Joan Savage says:

    The interviews gave Christie opportunity to mention it on his own, if he wanted to. He’s not shy.

  12. Mike Roddy says:

    I guess we will never know the answer to that question, but the pattern among reporters is pretty consistent. Remember the presidential debates?

  13. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The ecological crises are, at root, caused by massive over-consumption of resources by mankind. I would have thought that Christie could understand that truth.

  14. Jan says:

    And if a reported asked a pointed question about climate change, would he be vaporized on the spot? Any reporters out there with a 6 month prognosis who wishes to go down in history?