No Questions On Global Warming Asked At CNN’s Coal Industry-Sponsored Presidential Debates

In Democratic presidential debate last night, CNN once again failed to ask any questions about global warming. Perhaps not surprisingly, last night’s debate was sponsored by the coal front group Americans for Balanced Energy Choices (ABEC). Watch an ad for the debate:

[flv http://video.thinkprogress.org/2008/01/cleancoalcn.320.240.flv]

ABEC also co-sponsored November’s CNN/YouTube debates in Nevada and Florida, at which no questions about global warming were asked.

These debate sponsorships are part of the coal industry’s aggressive “$35 million campaign in primary and caucus states to rally public support for coal-fired electricity and to fuel opposition to legislation that Congress is crafting to slow climate change.” ABEC has spent $1.3 million alone “on billboard, newspaper, television and radio ads in Iowa, Nevada and South Carolina.”

What is ABEC receiving in return for its support of CNN’s debate? Besides branding on tv and newspaper ads, ThinkProgress has learned that at November’s Democratic debate in Nevada, ABEC was given a special area near the debate’s entrance to hand out “clean coal” brochures. No other organizations were allowed to distribute materials in that prime area.

UPDATE: DeSmogBlog has also obtained an ABEC request for proposals for PR assistance in Nevada, in which it hopes to “image and credibility of ABEC” and increase “public awareness of the importance of coal to America’s energy mix.” One of the key ways it hopes to achieve these goals is through a “comprehensive presidential outreach program.”