How The Right Scares The Media Into Ignoring Climate Change
A new Media Matters study  documents how TV news outlets -- with the exception of MSNBC -- all but ignored climate change during the 2012 election season, even covering Joe Biden's smile in the vice presidential debate more often. This blackout fit perfectly into the right's climate change playbook.
When we saw events that illustrated the impacts of climate change in the lead-up to the election, the right tried to get the media to look the other way. As wildfires raged this summer, experts said  that journalists should be explaining how climate change worsens the risk of wildfires in the West. But once the media finally began  to make those connections, the conservative Media Research Center lashed  out  at them.
When Arctic sea ice loss broke records this summer, conservative media sought to distract  their mainstream counterparts by pointing to Antarctic sea ice. Nevermind that the Associated Press had explained that Antarctic sea ice gains did not undermine global warming and were in fact anticipated -- MRC claimed that AP's report was not to be trusted because it "predictably cited scientists." In the end, the record Arctic sea ice loss received little attention  from TV media.
And when Hurricane Sandy hit a week before the election, the right attacked  the media for even raising  global warming. Fox's media criticism show, Fox News Watch, called  the media "liberal" for noting the scientific connections  between Sandy's destruction and climate change:
JON SCOTT: It didn't take long, though, for liberal media to trot out climate change as the reason behind this storm?
RICHARD GRENELL, FMR. ROMNEY SPOKESMAN: Yes, and that is silly, right.
While TV media's election coverage of climate change ramped up after Sandy, the coverage still totaled less than an hour  on ABC, CBS, NBC, CNN and Fox.
The right is silent  because faced with the consequences of climate change in the midst of a record heat wave or other events made more likely as the earth warms from greenhouse gas emissions, their arguments make better fodder for The Colbert Report  than the nightly news. The mainstream media void allows the right to get away with having no plan to address climate change, but ignoring  the problem won't make it go away.
Max Greenberg contributed to this post.