CNN’s Climate Change Coverage: Starring Ann Coulter

CNN president Jeff Zucker recently admitted that his news network doesn’t do much on climate change. But a few days later they managed to cover it–and you wish they hadn’t.

As he explained at an awards ceremony (Capital New York, 5/20/14):

Climate change is one of those stories that deserves more attention…but we haven’t figured out how to engage the audience in that story in a meaningful way. When we do do those stories, there does tend to be a tremendous amount of lack of interest on the audience’s part.

But days after he said this, CNN did find a way to cover climate change on the program OutFront (5/21/14). It looked like this:


For those not up to speed: Game show host Pat Sajak tweeted this: “I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends. Good night.” It was all in jest, you see–though Sajak seems to be dismissive of climate change nonetheless.

And CNN‘s Pat-Sajak’s-opinion-of-climate-change guest? Well, far-right bombthrower Ann Coulter, of course.

Substitute host Briana Keilar introduced the segment this way: “And ahead, Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak says global warming alarmists are unpatriotic. Tonight, Ann Coulter tells us why she agrees.”

Don’t think, though, that Coulter’s was the only voice that CNN brought on to talk about whether climate change was real. Oh, no–the interview was preceded by a taped segment in which entertainment reporter Nischelle Turner, to get an opinion on whether Sajak was right or not, turned to global warming-denier Sen. Marco Rubio: “Sajak’s skepticism is echoed by others, most notably Florida Senator Marco Rubio.”  (She also quoted a tweet from an actual climate scientist!)

As we’ve noted before, some of CNN‘s previous climate coverage has involved putting climate deniers on Crossfire. But this is actually worse–not just treating deniers as though they’re a legitimate part of a climate “debate,” but acting as though they’re the only viewpoints worth hearing from.

Does this seem like the best way to “engage the audience in a meaningful way”?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.