Senate Democrats Pressure Networks to Increase Coverage of Climate Change

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Brian Schatz (D-HI) are gathering colleagues' signatures on a letter to networks ABC, CBS, NBC, and Fox expressing their disapproval at the lack of global warming discussion on the channels' Sunday shows.

According to Sanders, "It is beyond my comprehension… that their shows have discussed climate change in 2012, collectively, for all of eight minutes.” Sanders is using liberal watchdog group Media Matters for America as his source. MMfA's data indicates that, in 2009, the Sunday shows covered climate change topics for over an hour, and in 2012, Sunday show coverage dropped to less than eight minutes on climate change.

On Sunday, Media Matters condemned Fox News Sunday host Chris Wallace for questioning the legitimacy of President Obama's proposal to establish a Climate Resilience Fund to help communities deal with the effects of global warming in California. Wallace claimed that the president's "case may seem a bit hard to make when the eastern half of the country is in the grips of a brutal winter."

Sanders mentioned the letter at a press conference with Senate Democrats' new, 19-member Climate Action Task Force, which includes Barbara Boxer of California. Boxer described the task force, saying, "The purpose is to use the bully pulpit of our Senate offices to achieve that wake-up call.” She added that, "We believe that climate change is a catastrophe that is unfolding before our eyes, and we want Congress to take off the blindfolds."

Sanders and his colleagues plan to send the letter because, according to Sanders, Sunday TV coverage is not proportional to the gravity of the situation. "What [the networks] are saying is, climate change is a non-important issue, it is an irrelevant issue, and yet the scientific community tells us that it is the greatest crisis facing this planet," he said.


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