Still Wondering Why the Public is Ill-Informed on Climate?

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Foes of the Environmental Protection Agency’s greenhouse gas regulations have dominated the TV news circuit in the past year and a half, according to the liberal watchdog group Media Matters. The group’s survey of news shows found that 76 percent of the guests appearing on television news—or 152 out of 199—were opposed to the regulations and only 18 percent spoke in favor of them.

The group notes that three channels—Fox News, Fox Business, and CNBC—were largely responsible for the skewed representation. The other major news shows barely talked about the subject, which raises its own set of concerns.

The split was also along partisan lines—of the 35 lawmakers who appeared on cable shows to discuss the EPA’s regulation of greenhouse gases, 30 were Republicans. The only cable network bucking that trend was, not surprisingly, MSNBC.

This is perhaps the most disturbing statistic to me, though: only one guest in the 17 months of programmging that Media Matters studied was a certified climate scientist. That was Patrick Michaels, a fellow at the libertarian Cato Institute who does in fact hold a Ph.D. in ecological climatology. But his funding from the fossil fuels industry has made him a less-than-reliable source on the subject—funding that he’s sought to hide or dismiss as “irrelevant” over the years. Still, he was the only climate scientist featured in more than a year and a half across nine news outlets. Pitiful.

More MotherJones reporting on Climate Desk

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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