Infographic: Sunday News Shows Ignored Obama’s Climate Plan But Late-Night Comics Picked Up The Slack

You may have heard that President Obama gave a big speech last week laying out his plan to cut carbon pollution.

Sadly, you wouldn’t have heard that if you were relying on the Sunday morning news shows that supposedly recap and discuss the big stories of the week. Mirthfully, David Letterman and Jay Leno spent a combined three minutes on climate, and The Daily Show on Comedy Central beat that.

I’m reminded of the timeless words of Ella Wheeler Wilcox:

Laugh, and the world laughs with you;
Weep, and you weep alone.
For the sad old earth must borrow its mirth
But has trouble enough of its own


In fairness to shows that air on Sunday, Melissa Harris Perry devoted a segment (video) to the President’s speech, featuring Josh Fox, director of Gasland and Gasland 2, as well as Danielle Moodie-Mills, an adviser at the Center for American Progress. Fox talked about the plan’s focus on natural gas and what that means for the leakage of methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Moodie-Mills talked about the focus on far-off security threats that may or may not happen, versus climate change, which is happening right now.

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50 Responses to Infographic: Sunday News Shows Ignored Obama’s Climate Plan But Late-Night Comics Picked Up The Slack

  1. Rabid Doomsayer says:

    Very sad, better news off the commedy shows. What sort of world do we live in.

  2. Richard L says:

    I often say I get the best news from the Daily Show and Colbert report.

    Any chance links could be provided to the shows for those of us who missed it?

  3. Jeff Huggins says:

    What I Can’t Understand

    Joe, what I can’t understand is this: (and I don’t ask this as a criticism; I ask it to prompt us all to think, and in search of an explanation and some creative solutions) …

    If CAP is the leading progressive think-tank and advocacy organization; if it is headquartered right there in DC and has some very impressive people and resources; if Al Gore is still around somewhere; if you and the climate movement have access to the entire scientific community and to some notable world leaders, celebs, and so forth; if there exists in the media some organizations that are at least sympathetic to progressive ideals and needs, and others that are at least somewhat so; if people in the movement even have access to the great news-comedians; if there are people with resources (such as that billionaire guy) who want climate change addressed; if this collection of people has some understanding of how to use rhetoric effectively (as you do); and if (we hope) this whole collection of folks has at least an ounce of creativity within them, somewhere; THEN why the heck is it the case that even after Obama gives his first speech on climate change in a zillion years, the major media practically overlook it?? What about the MSNBC and NBC folks? What about ABC (Disney; I used to work for Disney, and if there’s one organization that’s gonna have problems when climate change gets bad, it’s Disney!)?

    So I’m curious, where is this whole collection of people and resources in the climate movement going wrong, that we can’t even get some of the key folks in the media to cover this? Maybe — probably — we’re too boring? Have we thought of that? And maybe we aren’t pushing at the right buttons hard enough? But the immense failure ought to cause us to pause and think, at least. Right?

    Your thoughts? If you had to identify the one or two chief reasons why this is the case (reasons that don’t simply blame the other side; that’s not the question that I’m asking), what would they be?

    Thanks, Jeff

  4. M Tucker says:

    The Sunday morning news shows, like most of the mainstream media, consider climate change to be environmental news. For them environmental news comes way down the list of important topics. Way below S Court decisions, Snowden and NSA leaks, NSA spying, immigration reform, presidential trips, Kerry’s work between Israel and Palestine, Afghanistan, and any other stories they THINK the public is more likely to be interested in.

  5. Chris says:

    How is 1 minute 33 seconds two different lengths in the chart above?

  6. I will acknowledge that the Fox affiliate in the Bay Area (KTVU – Oakland) ran a major story on this and, surprise, surprise, used a graphic that showed the effect a sea level rise on the Sacramento / San Joaquin Delta. Hint: It extends San Francisco Bay all the way past Stockton.

    I just question whether the placement between two major supreme court decisions was an attempt to bury the story, since DOMA and Voting Rights Act rulings were going to soak up all the bandwidth.

  7. prokaryotes says:

    And then there was the Weekly Address …

    Obama Address: Confronting the Growing Threat of Climate Change

  8. Raul M. says:

    I think the princess tower would look even better with solar panels draping the sunny side. The tram way would be greater with a awning of solar panels as would the parking lots with rain covering of solar panels. Why there are lots of places Disney could put solar panels. And once they put one over Mickey why Minny would want one to cover her from the hot summer sun too. One of the things about solar panels for shade is that they are shading the underside of the panels where the customers would be walking to the next exhibit. Seems like a way to take care of Disney and to show concern for the patrons as well.

  9. PeterM says:

    The News Media- Mainstream, still cannot cognitively realize that the climate is now ‘shot’ and the rest of this century it will become progressively worse. What this will do to the fabric of this culture is unknown- but it is likely to be highly disruptive.

    But wait we need to show an Ad for Trucks and SUV’s, and how great Exxon is combating climate change. The Media will not ‘get it’ until we are over the abyss.

  10. BBHY says:

    I think where you are going wrong is believing that CNN, CBS, NBC, FOX, and ABC are media. They are not.

    They are huge corporations pushing their own corporate agenda while masquerading as media. They are driven only by profit and do not care a wit about informing the public.

    So this story was actually not ignored by the “media”.

  11. Robert In New Orleans says:

    Actually they are news shows pretending to be comedy.

  12. Robert In New Orleans says:

    It is because Stewart and Colbert are more intelligent and have better copy writers than their competition.

  13. Nell says:

    Nonstop coverage of the Zimmerman trial.
    It cannot continue long though. At just .8C it’s getting scary out there.

  14. BobbyL says:

    Maybe it is just as well that the Sunday news shows didn’t cover Obama’s climate plan. Aren’t people confused enough without hearing George Will’s opinion of a plan to address a problem that Will doesn’t believe exists. The Democrats versus Republicans formats on these shows could only lead to pointless arguments over whether global warming is a caused by humans or is due to natural variability. Nothing would have been gained.

  15. Jeff Huggins says:

    BBHY, thanks for the comment. Consider this: The question is not really whether CNN, NBC, ABC, and so forth are “media” or are big corporations. That’s just semantics. They are both, of course, and yes, they are driven mostly by big-corporation-type goals: ad revenues, and thus ratings, and so forth. So the real question is this: Knowing that they are driven by those things, why aren’t we smart enough, creative enough, and persistent enough to get them to cover the story? HOW can we get them to cover the story, given that we claim to understand the story and we presumably know enough to understand what excites and drives the media/corporations? That’s what we ought to think about. Cheers, Jeff

  16. prokaryotes says:

    From CBS

    U.S. wildfires increasing because of Climate Change – Arizona Chief Firefighter

  17. Morris Meyer says:

    Scott Pelley of CBS Evening news did a very interesting report on the evening news with the US government’s top fire official w 30 years experience fighting fires. When asked point blank about climate change his answer was clear – fires are bigger and more frequent.

  18. Brian Smith says:

    It’s for this same reason I thought that Shawn Otto’s Presidential Science Debates, calling for live TV debate on science between the nominees in ’08 and ’12, was an obviously great idea (we want the issues acknowledged before the public and stands taken) and at the same time a dubious one (the public would get half-truths, misinformation and crafted prevarication from politically biased non-experts running for office).

    Likewise with the MSM. We desperately need coverage, but not just any coverage.

    We saw what happened with Al Gore’s attempt to compete by creating Current TV; it had no chance in Cable world where it was just another channel with a left-only audience. Al Jazeera owns it now. Established MSM news sources are still where the eyeballs are, and where percieved political importance of issues is determined, social media notwithstanding.

    But Otto had it right in many ways, first of all by creating a major event that would be irresistible to mainstream media for coverage, but with the content originating not with them but with the science community itself. This is how we need to be thinking and attempting to lead in the climate coverage war, as opposed to ragging and raging on about media falsifications and moral blindness which we in fact have the power to counter.

    The Science Debates: “the largest political initiative in the history of American science, the 125-million-strong Science Debate 2008, which Barack Obama and John McCain participated in, marking the first time in history endorsed presidential candidates laid out science policies in detail before the election. The initiative made over 800 million media impressions.[2] The campaign was co-sponsored by the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Council on Competitiveness, PBS Nova, and NOW on PBS, and its signers include over 170 major American universities and other leading organizations, over 100 university presidents, and dozens of Nobel laureates.”
    – Wikipedia

    The candidates declined the TV debates, but they DID submit detailed positions in writing, an acknowledgement both of the issues and the authority of science to question politicians on their beliefs & policies.

    All the realities around the science that are now mired in ignorance and ambivalence have to be resolved decisively before the public can become a force in climate politics. Scientists are the only ones who can make this happen, so it follows they need the opportunities, the venues. For this they need support. They are not PR strategists.

    The merely reactionary MSM will not be providing this service but media-savvy climate leaders and institutions could, and should, ASAP. Everybody talks about The Media, incessantly!!!, but few believe we can do anything about it. Not productive.

  19. Greatgrandma Kat says:

    I’m afraid we will get nothing out of the MSM that will help in the crisis we are facing, but we already know why and I’m sure nothing will change until their studios are either underwater or taken out by a tornado or have no power because of overheated transmission lines, never the less the message about climate change will be told. The only drawback is it will probely

  20. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The MSM are primarily organs of social control, propaganda apparatuses whose prime function is the distortion of reality to suit the interests of their hyper-rich owners, and to relentlessly brainwash the rabble. Having the serfs realise that they are, indeed, within decades of unimaginable catastrophe, possibly extinction, would not be to our Masters’ advantage. Profit is inconsequential. The MSM will be as heavily cross-subsidised by the rest of the Business elite as required.

  21. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    I doubt that Will is that stupid. I’d say that he knows the truth, but denies it for ideological reasons-nothing more, nothing less.

  22. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    It doesn’t matter what fate befalls the MSM, studios or personnel. What determines their every move is their ownership.

  23. Raul M. says:

    Oh, and I was just having the best time visualizing corrective action to the energy deficit. You know that one could help to correct that situation by suggesting certain large users install more solar and wind resources. Why in that way the user takes control of the situation by producing their own energy. It would be a grand adventure to go to Disney and see their meter running backward.

  24. fj says:

    An climate change denial and information suppression is obvious conspiracy.

  25. fj says:

    Flat-Earther Protest: Climate Change More Credible than Round Earth

  26. John McCormick says:

    Bobby L

    You spoke the truth. The Obama speech would be ridiculed and the Obama haters would have another reason to hate him.

  27. BBHY says:

    “why aren’t we smart enough, creative enough, and persistent enough to get them to cover the story? ”

    That is like walking to Dunkin Donuts and asking for a steak. They are not going to give you a steak. It is not what they do. No matter how smart you are, how persistent you are, no matter how much you beg they are not going to give you a steak.

  28. Merrelyn Emery says:

    Sounds like a winning strategy given the degree of dissociation and superficiality in your culture. There’s more than one way to stuff a duck, ME

  29. Jeff Huggins says:

    “It would be a grand adventure to go to Disney and see their meter running backward.” Now that’s a great way to summarize a great idea. Alas, after working at Disney for a long time — in the theme park part of things, and on new developments and “guest experiences” — although I loved it there, I must say the following: there is a very good chance that someone there has already had that idea, of course, but there is almost an equally good chance that they’ve decided for some business-oriented reason not to do it, or at least not as quickly as they ought to. That said, I do think it’s a great idea, and it could be done in myriad fun and “wow” ways. Cheers, Jeff

  30. Jeff Huggins says:

    BBHY, I get your point, but in my view it’s narrow and fatalistic thinking. There are undoubtedly ways; we just have to muster the creativity to find them and the will to do them. And actually, the first part (the creativity) is the far-easier part, and not really a problem if we put our minds to it. The last part — the will (and the cooperation on our parts) — is the harder part. In any case, thanks for the comment. Cheers, Jeff

  31. Mike Roddy says:

    Intelligent copy writers get selected out of mainstream media news programming, especially when it comes to global warming.

    The fossil fuel companies have hijacked Congress and our media companies. It’s up to us to stand up to them.

  32. DRT says:

    I would sure love to hear an NPR program which did climate related news for a 1/2 hr. a day.

  33. Mike Roddy says:

    Advertisers on media outlets that ignore global warming should be boycotted. Nothing else will work, since network executives cannot be shamed.

  34. Citizens United handed API an additional arrow for its quiver. The group could now funnel undisclosed corporate donations directly to campaign entities. Among the oil executives leading API at the time — and still to this day—was Tofiq Al-Gabsani, a registered lobbyist for the Saudi government. Al-Gabsani is the chief executive of Saudi Refining Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of the Saudi Arabian Oil Company, the government-owned Saudi oil giant better known as Aramco.
    Aramco, by means of its US subsidiary, is understood by insiders to be one of the top donors to API, where, according to the Washington Post, membership dues for the largest firms can be as much as $20 million a year. API has roughly 400 member firms, but only a small group of oil and gas industry CEOs sit on its board of directors, which oversees the trade association’s major political campaigns, according to API state business filings and two former API executives. Alongside the top officials of such major American firms as ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips, one of those directors for the past three years has been Al-Gabsani.
    US law still bans foreign corporations from participating directly in elections. But after Citizens United, trade associations like API—whose influential members include foreign corporations—are free to spend as they wish, unburdened by disclosure requirements. And these groups have taken full advantage of their new freedoms. While other campaign committees, from labor unions to Super PACs, face strict transparency rules, trade associations enjoy unparalleled power to covertly manipulate elections using corporate money.

  35. Brian Smith says:

    “HOW can we get them to cover the story..”?

    My comments below, @#10, are relevant, if too long winded. We get them to cover the story by strategic media planning, just like the big boys do. We set down goals, identify targets & actions (as Tom Steyer, @350, League of Conservation Voters,etc. do). That takes collaboration and organization. We launch a national climate PR campaign that’s formalized & funded, linked closely with the effective but Balkanized campaigns already working. We spend whatever it takes and do whatever needs to be done to get the most serious of messages to the public directly from the mouths of climate scientists, business and movement leaders, et al. We start now and persist, creating news that the MSM can NOT avoid covering.

    This is exactly the opposite approach from depending on the President to carry the day, leaving our news-making advantage to happenstance events, and bitching about corporate ownership of the news stream. The question is not whether we can turn it around, the question is who is the “we” we’re talking about? I could name names.

  36. Superman1 says:

    “HOW can we get them to cover the story”. If you were in charge of Production at one of the networks, what incentives/motivations/pressures would you need in order to ‘cover the story’?

  37. Jeff Huggins says:

    Brian, pls see my comment “To Brian, Superman1, and Mulga”, below.

  38. Jeff Huggins says:

    Superman1, pls see my comment “To Brian, Superman1, and Mulga”, below.

  39. Jeff Huggins says:

    MulgaM, pls see my comment “To Brian, Superman1, and Mulga”, right below (to come soon).

  40. Unless I hastily read the story and all the comments, I would point out that while the overwhelming news media was derelict, MSNBC did provide very good coverage, especially Chris Hayes, but others as well.

  41. Jeff Huggins says:

    To Brian, Superman1, and Mulga:

    Thanks for your comments. Here are some quick responses that are best understood when viewed together.

    Brian — I’ll read your comments below more carefully, but in general I definitely agree that there are ways that we (the movement) should be able to gain more media attention and coverage, if we are creative and if we try.

    Superman1, there are a number of levers that will (or should) work with the media, at least with the portions of the media that (presumably) should, in theory, be open to the message. Again, the main ingredients are creativity, a bit of cooperation (within the movement), and most importantly, actually trying. The media are motivated by certain things, of course, and an understanding of what those things are (I won’t go into them here, but they are no secret, and rather obvious) can help the movement gain coverage via some hosts on some channels.

    MulgaM, you have the most interesting question, but it is of the type that shouldn’t hold us up from trying: Is it true that the media companies aren’t even that interested in the pure-profit aspect of the matter, but instead are only interested in carrying “the message” that the supposed overlords want carried, such that no matter what hook is used (even things that would enhance ratings, for example) there will be no possible way to gain the coverage needed by the climate movement? Perhaps, but I don’t think it goes that far. And in any case, deliberating about that sort of question is fruitless, not much of a good use of time. We gotta start somewhere.

    So (to all), what brings us together here is nothing other, and perhaps nothing more, than the facts that we are all concerned about the climate problem and we all ARE HERE for our various reasons. In my case, and I assume in yours too, we are all doing whatever we can outside of our participation here to help out in the climate movement, its various events and initiatives and so forth. So, given that context, we can and should ask ourselves, What is possible and potentially helpful to do HERE, in this forum, as ONE aspect of our efforts and activism? To me, THAT is A Question.

    (And heck, only two of the four of us aren’t using anonymous names, so how would it even be possible to cooperate on some larger, more ambitious initiative together anyway, other than something that could be done here on CP and by means of our identities as they are?)

    So then, that is why I’m suggesting and proposing that we — and as many others here as possible, but it has to start somewhere — all try to encourage and urge Joe, Ryan, CP, and CAP to do what they can, and to do what it takes, to begin to vet would-be Democratic nominees (for president) regarding their positions and (demonstrated) willingness to lead regarding climate change. Now THAT is something that we — the four of us — can begin to do here, and here is the appropriate forum for doing it. Do you begin to see the actionable nature and good “fit” (with this forum and our abilities) of that idea, that initiative?

    To be clear (and to avoid the need to address these sorts of critiques), I am not at all saying that this is the only or even the very best idea for an initiative to take place here, but it is one very good one, and doable.

    Thus the concrete question — and I like concrete questions, more and more these days — is will you folks join in the comment-based effort to draw Joe’s and Ryan’s and CP’s and CAP’s attention to the immense and time-sensitive need to begin vetting would-be Democratic nominees for president regarding climate change, so that we don’t get to the point where the party has already (in effect) nominated Hillary Clinton before we even know (with any real credibility, clarity, or believability) whether she’s the right and best person to address climate change and while there is still plenty of time to get much better candidates involved?

    It’s a concrete question. (I wouldn’t worry about offending our hosts; they, like all of us, need some encouragement and “pushing”. And, in any case, part of the point is to at least generate and have that dialogue.)


    In any case, thanks for your attention and consideration,


  42. SecularAnimist says:

    Jeff Huggins wrote: “why aren’t we smart enough, creative enough, and persistent enough to get them to cover the story?”

    We aren’t rich enough.

    Every weekday morning, I listen to NPR’s Morning Edition (a.k.a. the “liberal media”) give fawning, obsequious, unctuous thanks to the American Petroleum Institute, America’s Natural Gas Alliance, and various fossil fuel corporations for their financial support, while reading their bumper sticker slogan propaganda lines on air — every 15 minutes or so.

    And the situation with commercial for-profit mass media is vastly worse.

    When has the money to run as many prime time TV commercials as ExxonMobil, and can afford to lavish as much money on NPR as the American Petroleum Institute’s “Vote For Energy” election propaganda campaign did in 2012, then maybe the corporate media will notice how “smart, creative and persistent” we are.

    Until then, they are just doing what they are paid to do, and the pro-fossil fuel agenda is a huge part of the corporate propaganda that they hammer the American people with, 24×7.

  43. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    An excellent idea, which is why such ‘secondary boycotts’ were outlawed, some years ago, here in Oz, by the Howard regime, a real insane asylum of rabid denialism. Aimed at the evil trade unionists, but fit for purpose to crush ‘Green extremists’, too. Moreover they are mobilising ‘Anti-Discrimination’ laws to attack boycotts, starting with the BDS campaign to aid the Palestinians, being relentlessly attacked by the Murdoch sewer as ‘antisemitism’. The Bosses know well how to use the ‘rule of law’ to kick heads. Still it is a very good idea, and I never buy anything I see advertised, anywhere.

  44. John McCormick says:

    This is likely a great waste of my time and yours because, as we all know here at CP, we are window watchers on our future.

    MS NBC is airing the entire Zimmerman trail while Egypt is about to tear itself another rift in its civil society.

    Who are the decision makers at MSNBC and what is their direct phone number and email.If CP cannot provide that to us then we are dupes.

    I’ll start with Chris Matthews Shot and demand why I should tune in again because he and his producers bagged Egypt.

    If we, you and me, cannot get direct access to media decision makers at the media outlets then we are less than useless.

    Joe, we need, we must have, means to wage our complaints to the bastards who control our news.

    I am going to keep posting this because I am on a crusade.

  45. Jeff Huggins says:

    Hi John,

    I am in agreement with your “crusade” — that is, to press and prompt the media folks who should be covering climate change to cover it, and well.

    (For more context, see my Comment number 3, titled ‘What I Can’t Understand’.)

    I also think, as another top priority (and a “crusade” of mine), that we need to begin vetting would-be Democratic nominees for president, ASAP, regarding their concrete and credible positions on and degrees of commitment to addressing climate change.

    In addition, I think that CP and CAP could and should be playing much greater roles aimed at those two aims.

    If you agree with those three points, perhaps you and I could agree that we should both make “crusades” out of all three aims. Indeed, they are highly related. All is connected to all else, and these three interrelated aims are all central to what it will take for the climate movement to become more effective.

    So, any comments? What do you think?

    (By the way, if you don’t mind my asking, are you one of the numerous John McCormicks described on Wikipedia, and if so, which one? Not that it matters to my question about crusades, but just so I have a slightly better idea of who I’m writing to.)

    In any case …



  46. BobbyL says:

    I think if CBS was doing a good job they would have put that question to a climate scientist. How could a fire official possibly be expected to provide a meaningful answer? That is a scientific question.

  47. Raul M. says:

    Fireman is pointing out that the meaning is in the fire- bigger and more powerful. People can understand fireman’s point of view. It is good for fireman to say a viewpoint that affects the firemen who attempt to stop fires from harming and affects society. Scientists are probably quite involved in the fire suppression efforts.

  48. John McCormick says:

    Hello Jeff,

    This thread is about to be given to the archives. We can keep the conversation going on any and all new threads. Off topic need not apply when we are trying to corral the horses.

    So much talent and passion among us. So, as you keep asking: what should we be doing right.

    I printed our two comments and will sharpen my focus on your points.

  49. Steve Wicke says:

    You want to know who makes the decisions at MSNBC, call the CEO of Comcast. ABC, call Disney. You think they will listen to anything said here. Of course not. We are in for a long long road that may not end well.

  50. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Jeff, I base my opinion on Chomsky and Herman’s ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and Alex Carey’s ‘Taking the Risk out of Democracy’. I also read widely in the non-business owned media, and can tell propaganda from disinterested pursuit of facts. I don’t believe in absolute truth, just the closest possible approximations to it. I came to the same conclusions as Chomsky, Herman, Carey and those others they quote, on my own, long ago, so I was fully prepared to accept the idea that the MSM is primarily a propaganda system, designed to protect elite rule by brainwashing the populace to accept, even cherish, a social and economic dispensation radically inimical to their and their children’s interests. I could be wrong, and have no trouble changing my mind when I become better informed, but this opinion has only hardened over the years.