[In January, I blogged on this study by a leading journalist who documented the media's mistakes and biases during the Lieberman-Warner debate. Yet the media is making the exact same mistakes in the current debate over the Waxman-Markey energy and climate bill (see "The New Yorker (!) parrots right-wing talking points" and "David Broder" and "NYT's Matt Wald" and "the NYT again"). So I'm reposting it.]
One of the country’s leading journalists has written a searing critique of the media’s coverage of global warming, especially climate economics.
How Much Would You Pay to Save the Planet? The American Press and the Economics of Climate Change is by Eric Pooley for Harvard’s prestigious Joan Shorenstein Center on the Press, Politics and Public Policy. Pooley has been managing editor of Fortune, national editor of Time, Time‘s chief political correspondent, and Time‘s White House correspondent, where he won the Gerald Ford Prize for Excellence in Reporting. Before that, he was senior editor of New York magazine.
In short, Pooley has earned the right to be heard. Journalists and senior editors need to pay heed to Pooley’s three tough conclusions abut how “damaging” the recent media of the climate debate has been:
- The press misrepresented the economic debate over cap and trade. It failed to recognize the emerging consensus “¦ that cap and trade would have a marginal effect on economic growth and gave doomsday forecasts coequal status with nonpartisan ones”¦. The press allowed opponents of climate action to replicate the false debate over climate science in the realm of climate economics.
- The press failed to perform the basic service of making climate policy and its economic impact understandable to the reader and allowed opponents of climate action to set the terms of the cost debate. The argument centered on the short-term costs of taking action-i.e., higher electricity and gasoline prices-and sometimes assumed that doing nothing about climate change carried no cost.
- Editors failed to devote sufficient resources to the climate story. In general, global warming is still being shoved into the “environment” pigeonhole, along with the spotted owls and delta smelt, when it is clearly to society’s detriment to think about the subject that way. It is time for editors to treat climate policy as a permanent, important beat: tracking a mobilization for the moral equivalent of war.