We’ll never know why the New York Times didn’t bother to credit Bill McKibben and 350.org for pioneering the strategy that led to a new era of climate progress in today’s piece about the “face of a new activism that the nation’s largest environmental groups are encouraging to revive a climate-change movement that seemed stalled not so long ago.” We’ll never know why the Times didn’t point out that climate activists were changing tactics before the 2010 midterm elections, largely because they felt the climate legislation that was suffocated in the Senate that year wasn’t effective enough to stem emissions.
We do know why the Times decided to quote “a spokeswoman for Senator James M. Inhofe” and “John Christy, a scientist and climate-change skeptic at the University of Alabama in Huntsville” to smear those who believe a better future is possible. That answer is obvious: the Times is once again giving in to the false-balance fetish that aids and abets the amoral.
The Times knows exactly what it’s doing. In fact, later in the piece, the paper acknowledges:
…[T]he very groups whose grass-roots and political activism spawned the environmental movement in the 1960s and 1970s had let those strengths atrophy by the time the climate-change battles of the last decade began.
During those years, the groups’ strategy was rooted in Washington lobbying, and their effort to rally public support was driven mostly by scientists’ complaints of an invisible, slow-moving and seemingly distant threat. The approach made the environmental movement an easy target for the energy industry and its ideological allies, which cast doubt on the reliability of climate science and turned global warming into a political wedge issue.
The Times doesn’t deny the existence of the climate-denial industry. So why give allies of that industry a forum to continue launching baseless attacks on climate activists? Unless the Times is afraid of the whining of that industry?
The “balance as bias” disease remains untreated years after having been diagnosed. CNN and USA Today are still dazed from this malaise. As depraved as Roger Ailes has been in terms of peddling disinformation on climate, those in more legitimate media sources also bear responsibility for knuckling under to the fossil-fuel fiends and failing to get the climate story right.
We’ve now soared past 400 parts per million of CO2 in the atmosphere, thanks to those who have polluted our media atmosphere by spewing disinformation and rhetorically bludgeoning climate scientists and climate activists. Let’s urge the New York Times, CNN, USA Today and every other mainstream-media source to commit to their own clean-energy program: putting a cap on craziness, trading lies for legitimacy, and getting the rhetorical emissions of climate-change deniers down to zero.
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