Why are Americans at one and the same time concerned about climate change but uninformed about it–enough so that it is not a high priority? One reason, reported by The Guardian March 27 based on a study by Media Matters for America, is that the mainstream media devote extraordinarily little attention to climate change. Consider the chart below: “total coverage” refers to minutes for all of 2015 and 2016, years when new heat records were set, the Paris Accord was signed, and, of course, an election was held. As we’re all aware, Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump said barely a word about climate change during their campaigns, including the debates. (Bernie Sanders did!) And the media neither led nor followed them.
PBS deserves kudos for devoting far more time to climate change than all the others combined. So does The Guardian. (Note that Fox doesn’t even make the list.) Here’s the chart:
The mainstream media’s failure is one point of the story. The other is that the Trump administration’s evident plan to stop funding public television will mean silencing a critical source of news on climate change.