Washington Post Overlooks Obama’s Extensive Remarks On Climate And Energy

If a tree falls in the forest (because of global warming), but the media doesn’t report on it, does it make a sound?

That is the question posed by the amazing banner graphic in today’s Washington Post:

In its quantification of the key elements of the speech, the paper’s editors apparently couldn’t see or hear or speak of the nearly 10% of the State of the Union address devoted to climate and energy. But, hey, Obama devoted 3% of the speech to immigration — that’s news!

Coincidentally, former VP Gore had this to say about the major media in a book tour event yesterday covered by ClimateWire (subs. req’d):

“The American networks, they won’t cover it,” he said. “It changed a little bit after Superstorm Sandy, but not much. It’s almost like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage at the mention of alcohol or his problems, and so everybody in the family learns to keep quiet, don’t mention the elephant in the room, let’s just don’t ever say it.

… “We had disasters related to the climate one after the other, $110 billion worth of climate-related disaster damage last year, completely blowing away the previous record, half the North Polar ice cap melted last summer, and Superstorm Sandy devastated Manhattan and New Jersey, and all the while, we had a presidential campaign with more debates than ever in history,” he said, his voice rising. “And not one single reporter asked a single question in any of the debates of any of the candidates about the climate crisis. That is pathetic.”

‘Pathetic’ is the word.

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26 Responses to Washington Post Overlooks Obama’s Extensive Remarks On Climate And Energy

  1. PeterM says:

    The WA Post must have taken cues from Marco Rubio- ‘its only the weather………’

  2. Mike Roddy says:

    Nice metaphor by Al Gore. That’s the instinctive reaction in media companies, but they most likely have been trained by their advertisers. WaPo, like NYT, blows the story, and think they redeem themselves through occasional editorials or actual reporting.

    Our media companies may or may not be reformable, but we haven’t even put them to the test. It’s our fault that TV news is now mostly celebrities, car chases, good places to shop, etc. We shouldn’t be surprised that the public is ending up clueless.

    Media companies will change only when we put pressure on them, through public humiliation and advertiser and viewer boycotts. Statistically oriented monitoring just gets filed away as geek stuff. Media companies need to be shown in visceral and financial ways just how much they are blowing it.

  3. Mayson Lancaster says:

    Your infographic link doesn’t go to the infographic.

  4. David Goldstein says:

    Go to Huffington Post- they actually have some of the best and most extensive coverage of climate change out there (some articles get many thousands of comments)…Their front page template has about 10 large subject areas (Politics, Business, Media, Entertainment, etc.) and about 15 smaller tab subjects underneath. The tab for ‘Green’ is a small tab subject almost as far to the right side of the page as it is possible to be (‘Sports’ is the only one farther to the right). AND THEN- you have to click on the small ‘Green’ tab to get to the 6 sub-headings of ‘Green’ of which climate change is one. It is a puzzle- as I said, Climate Change is relatively well-covered but still relegated to the hinterlands in this respect. It is curious that they have not changed this.

  5. Joe Romm says:

    Actually it does, for the rest of today. Upper left.

  6. elisabeth says:

    The Washington Post recently (1/24) had an editorial in support of the Keystone XL pipeline and took the opportunity to accuse environmentalists of “bizarrely” focusing on this project….It has also criticized proposed offshore wind legislation in Maryland and said the state should instead make nuclear and natural gas count as energy sources that can meet the state’s renewable energy mandates. The paper has had several multipage spreads in the business section on the wonders of fracking without mentioning the environmental damage or the word “methane.” The Baltimore Sun, in contrast, has editorialized against Keystone and for fracking studies. But the W.Post has been a huge disappointment of late.

  7. elisabeth says:

    Also, you might be interested in this:

    The Crisis of Climate Change Reporting: A Discussion with Free Press and Guests, February 14 at 4 p.m. Eastern. Join a panel of writers and thinkers to discuss ways to rectify the situation. Joining us will be Kate Sheppard of Mother Jones; Orion columnist Bill McKibben; writer and activist Wen Stephenson; CBS News contributor and Nature Conservancy scientist M. Sanjayan; Nature founder Thomas Lovejoy; Journalism and Public Media Campaign Director Josh Stearns; and Susie Cagle of Register here:

  8. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The Australian Broadcasting Corporation evening news yesterday, in its report on Obama’s SOTU speech, did not mention climate change. Guns, jobs, migration, middle-class-you name it, but not ‘The Unmentionable’. The thing about Rightwing hacks is that they are both well-trained and thoroughly ideologically correct, because those that are not are simply ‘weeded out’.

  9. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Anthropogenic climate destabilisation is death, mass death on an unimaginable scale, so it qualifies for Western societies’ ‘denial of death’ treatment. It is, also, the greatest proof conceivable of the wickedness and insane folly of capitalism and the religion of unbridled greed. This enrages the ruling elites, the beneficiaries of this auto-genocide, and I take it that the owners of the Huffington Post are not ‘down on their luck’. And, finally, I suspect that the elites fear for their own safety when the rabble finally wake up to their coming immolation and recall just who it was that told them that it was all just a ‘Green lie’. So best keep it a dirty little secret for as long as possible.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    What’s so ‘disappointing’? Surely you never imagined that a high-level elite propaganda organ would act against the economic and ideological interests of that ruling elite?

  11. Jack Roesler says:

    Thank you for that accurate analysis.

  12. Jack Roesler says:

    Very well put.

  13. John McCormick says:

    I ask you to take a few minutes and read President John Kennedy’s Inaugural Address
    Friday, January 20, 1961. Feel free to replace words with climate, environment, justice for all, throughout his talk.

    I believe President Obama had his Kennedy moment last night. He called on us to get into the fight with him. He’s our only hope.

    Read the Address.

    John F. Kennedy
    Inaugural Address
    Friday, January 20, 1961


    Heavy snow fell the night before the inauguration, but thoughts about cancelling the plans were overruled. The election of 1960 had been close, and the Democratic Senator from Massachusetts was eager to gather support for his agenda. He attended Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Georgetown that morning before joining President Eisenhower to travel to the Capitol. The Congress had extended the East Front, and the inaugural platform spanned the new addition. The oath of office was administered by Chief Justice Earl Warren. Robert Frost read one of his poems at the ceremony.

    Vice President Johnson, Mr. Speaker, Mr. Chief Justice, President Eisenhower, Vice President Nixon, President Truman, reverend clergy, fellow citizens, we observe today not a victory of party, but a celebration of freedom—symbolizing an end, as well as a beginning—signifying renewal, as well as change. For I have sworn before you and Almighty God the same solemn oath our forebears prescribed nearly a century and three quarters ago.
    The world is very different now. For man holds in his mortal hands the power to abolish all forms of human poverty and all forms of human life. And yet the same revolutionary beliefs for which our forebears fought are still at issue around the globe—the belief that the rights of man come not from the generosity of the state, but from the hand of God.
    We dare not forget today that we are the heirs of that first revolution. Let the word go forth from this time and place, to friend and foe alike, that the torch has been passed to a new generation of Americans—born in this century, tempered by war, disciplined by a hard and bitter peace, proud of our ancient heritage—and unwilling to witness or permit the slow undoing of those human rights to which this Nation has always been committed, and to which we are committed today at home and around the world.
    Let every nation know, whether it wishes us well or ill, that we shall pay any price, bear any burden, meet any hardship, support any friend, oppose any foe, in order to assure the survival and the success of liberty.
    This much we pledge—and more.
    To those old allies whose cultural and spiritual origins we share, we pledge the loyalty of faithful friends. United, there is little we cannot do in a host of cooperative ventures. Divided, there is little we can do—for we dare not meet a powerful challenge at odds and split asunder.
    To those new States whom we welcome to the ranks of the free, we pledge our word that one form of colonial control shall not have passed away merely to be replaced by a far more iron tyranny. We shall not always expect to find them supporting our view. But we shall always hope to find them strongly supporting their own freedom—and to remember that, in the past, those who foolishly sought power by riding the back of the tiger ended up inside.
    To those peoples in the huts and villages across the globe struggling to break the bonds of mass misery, we pledge our best efforts to help them help themselves, for whatever period is required—not because the Communists may be doing it, not because we seek their votes, but because it is right. If a free society cannot help the many who are poor, it cannot save the few who are rich.
    To our sister republics south of our border, we offer a special pledge—to convert our good words into good deeds—in a new alliance for progress—to assist free men and free governments in casting off the chains of poverty. But this peaceful revolution of hope cannot become the prey of hostile powers. Let all our neighbors know that we shall join with them to oppose aggression or subversion anywhere in the Americas. And let every other power know that this Hemisphere intends to remain the master of its own house.
    To that world assembly of sovereign states, the United Nations, our last best hope in an age where the instruments of war have far outpaced the instruments of peace, we renew our pledge of support—to prevent it from becoming merely a forum for invective—to strengthen its shield of the new and the weak—and to enlarge the area in which its writ may run.
    Finally, to those nations who would make themselves our adversary, we offer not a pledge but a request: that both sides begin anew the quest for peace, before the dark powers of destruction unleashed by science engulf all humanity in planned or accidental self-destruction.
    We dare not tempt them with weakness. For only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt that they will never be employed.
    But neither can two great and powerful groups of nations take comfort from our present course—both sides overburdened by the cost of modern weapons, both rightly alarmed by the steady spread of the deadly atom, yet both racing to alter that uncertain balance of terror that stays the hand of mankind’s final war.
    So let us begin anew—remembering on both sides that civility is not a sign of weakness, and sincerity is always subject to proof. Let us never negotiate out of fear. But let us never fear to negotiate.
    Let both sides explore what problems unite us instead of belaboring those problems which divide us.
    Let both sides, for the first time, formulate serious and precise proposals for the inspection and control of arms—and bring the absolute power to destroy other nations under the absolute control of all nations.
    Let both sides seek to invoke the wonders of science instead of its terrors. Together let us explore the stars, conquer the deserts, eradicate disease, tap the ocean depths, and encourage the arts and commerce.
    Let both sides unite to heed in all corners of the earth the command of Isaiah—to “undo the heavy burdens … and to let the oppressed go free.”
    And if a beachhead of cooperation may push back the jungle of suspicion, let both sides join in creating a new endeavor, not a new balance of power, but a new world of law, where the strong are just and the weak secure and the peace preserved.
    All this will not be finished in the first 100 days. Nor will it be finished in the first 1,000 days, nor in the life of this Administration, nor even perhaps in our lifetime on this planet. But let us begin.
    In your hands, my fellow citizens, more than in mine, will rest the final success or failure of our course. Since this country was founded, each generation of Americans has been summoned to give testimony to its national loyalty. The graves of young Americans who answered the call to service surround the globe.
    Now the trumpet summons us again—not as a call to bear arms, though arms we need; not as a call to battle, though embattled we are—but a call to bear the burden of a long twilight struggle, year in and year out, “rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation”—a struggle against the common enemies of man: tyranny, poverty, disease, and war itself.
    Can we forge against these enemies a grand and global alliance, North and South, East and West, that can assure a more fruitful life for all mankind? Will you join in that historic effort?
    In the long history of the world, only a few generations have been granted the role of defending freedom in its hour of maximum danger. I do not shrink from this responsibility—I welcome it. I do not believe that any of us would exchange places with any other people or any other generation. The energy, the faith, the devotion which we bring to this endeavor will light our country and all who serve it—and the glow from that fire can truly light the world.
    And so, my fellow Americans: ask not what your country can do for you—ask what you can do for your country.
    My fellow citizens of the world: ask not what America will do for you, but what together we can do for the freedom of man.
    Finally, whether you are citizens of America or citizens of the world, ask of us the same high standards of strength and sacrifice which we ask of you. With a good conscience our only sure reward, with history the final judge of our deeds, let us go forth to lead the land we love, asking His blessing and His help, but knowing that here on earth God’s work must truly be our own.

  14. Brooks Bridges says:

    Noam Chomsky wrote a book on how US has some of strictest laws against censorship in the world yet has a very effective de facto censorship process in place.

    Reporters and editorial writers know which subjects are verboten with no one saying anything. Anyone attempting to violate the unwritten rules soon gets the message or is out on the street.

    One of the editors of the Atlantic recently quit saying it was because he could never right the truth about climate change. I believe Joe ran a post on him. Memory fails me on details.

    I would vote for a splinter group from the ForwardOnClimate rally Sunday to surround WaPo for a bit.

  15. Sasparilla says:

    Wow, that’s just astounding. Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal I could expect that level of deception – but its right there in the WSJ with even a whole article dedicated to it – “Obama Readies Executive Action on Climate”.

    This is rather egregious. An article in the WaPoo (5 Takeaways from the State of the Union) – lists “A Major Climate Change Play” as #3.

    To miss this on the front page is hard to explain other than on purpose.

  16. DanB says:

    I’m with the other commenters that a combination of corporate advertising dollars and the “cult of the elite” that has put blinders and muzzles on these once great papers.

    It reminds me of the deniers and appeasers in Europe in the years leading up to WWII. I always wondered what it felt like to people in that era that were awake to the looming conflagration and a media woefully incapable of informing their readers.

    Now I know the feeling.

  17. catman306 says:

    Turn off the cable TV. Boycott companies that advertise in the WP. Their decision to not cover climate disruption MUST be made to cost them real money and any credibility they retain.

  18. 2qb says:

    Right on Mulga!

  19. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Climate was a big feature on the ABC24 coverage, commentators, analysts, the works, ME

  20. Jan says:

    Same on German national radio, though they are not rightwing hacks they otherwise often report about climate topics.

  21. Matt Mellor says:

    C’mon, the reason that they don’t mention it is because it’s too easy to dismiss it all as just “weather.” Weather is one thing, climate is something else, as we all know.

    Kudos to Obama for saying it out loud.

    It’s our job to make sure that the MSM (that would mean every reporter who reports on this stuff) understands the difference. Tell them. And tell your neighbors, too.

  22. Ozonator says:

    To be fair and balanced, WaPo’s failure to cover President Obama’s green portion matches their failure to cover the extreme GOP types missionary work in Africa. In Evil Inhofe’s parish/corporation, “Uganda: Women in Iraq Claim Their Body Parts Were Sold” (BY MOSES WALUBIRI AND PAUL KIWUWA, 13 FEBRUARY 2013,

  23. prokaryotes says:

    Media people (just like fossil fuel CEO’s) should be held accountable (possible trials on crimes against humanity) for not reporting on the greatest threat our civilisation faces.

    People need to realize that everything we had in human history so far is downgraded in severity when it comes to the species threat climate change poses.

  24. SecularAnimist says:

    I don’t think “pathetic” is quite the right word for a deliberate cover-up.

  25. It would seem that WaPo and some other media were caught much like Sen. Rubio. It was evident that he had written his response before he knew what was going to be in the SOTU. Too often, media organizations decide what the story is going to be before the event and end up covering only those things that they had already prepared.

    And, like Rubio, the look silly but get away with it because there are no alternatives. It is rather like listening to yet another weekend talk show performance by Newt Gingrich who is far more often wrong than correct (he is always right) and yet continues be asked for his comments because he is more entertaining than anyone else they could invite.

  26. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    ‘Coldly calculated’ will do for me.