CNN president Jeff Zucker recently admitted that his news network doesn't do much on climate change. But a report it ran a few days later illustrated that some kinds of coverage can be worse than nothing.
At a May 19 awards ceremony, Zucker (Capital New York, 5/20/14) admitted that while climate change "deserves more attention," CNN hasn't "figured out how to engage the audience in that story in a meaningful way." He added that there was a "tremendous lack of interest on the audience's part."
Just two days later, CNN gave us a lesson in how not to cover the issue. The program OutFront (5/21 /14) covered the "controversy" over game show host Pat Sajak's climate change denial Twitter outburst: "I now believe global warming alarmists are unpatriotic racists knowingly misleading for their own ends."
So who did CNN tap to weigh in on Sajak? Far-right provocateur and climate change denier Ann Coulter.
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Informing the audience was evidently not the point. As substitute host Brianna Keilar introduced the segment: "Wheel of Fortune host Pat Sajak says global warming alarmists are unpatriotic. Tonight, Ann Coulter tells us why she agrees." And the interview was preceded by a taped segment that turned to another global warming denier: "Sajak's skepticism is echoed by others, most notably Florida Sen. Marco Rubio."
Some of CNN's previous climate coverage this year has included putting deniers on Crossfire as one "side" of the debate (FAIR Blog, 5/9/14)–in one case because it was cold in some parts of the country (FAIR Blog, 1/8/14). Republican Sen. Ted Cruz appeared on the Situation Room (2/21/14) to falsely claim that "the data are not supporting what the advocates are arguing. The last 15 years, there has been no recorded warming."
But the segment with Coulter 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. Is this what Zucker means by trying "to engage the audience in a meaningful way"?
ACTION: Tell CNN that global warming denial from the likes of Ann Coulter is no substitute for reality-based coverage of our ongoing climate crisis.
Or send an email to:
CNN Executive VP for Standards and Practices