It is distinctly possible that after Salman Rushdie published his fourth novel, The Satanic Verses, back in 1988, you would normally have never heard of it. Can you for example name any other novel he has written? Everything changed when the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the Supreme Leader of Iran at that time, issued a formal fatwā calling for Rushdie’s death on 14 February 1989. As a result quite literally millions of people who would usually have no interest in such a novel bought a copy to see what all the fuss was about. This turned a book that would sell a few hundred copies a week into one that sat in the No.1 spot in the bestseller list for 25 weeks.You simply could have not manufactured better publicity.
In a very similar manner Trump has managed to very successfully play the role of the Ayatollah and so his climate denial has ended up throwing a spotlight upon an issue that had previously not been granted the appropriate degree of media attention.
The news is this.
Before Trump, Media Matters reported that the US Media had more or less stopped reporting Climate Change related stories. All that changed with Trump, and so their latest report underlines how things dramatically changed.
How broadcast TV networks covered climate change in 2017
Broadcast TV news neglected many critical climate change stories in 2017 while devoting most of its climate coverage to President Donald Trump. Seventy-nine percent of climate change coverage on the major corporate broadcast TV networks last year focused on statements or actions by the Trump administration, with heavy attention given to the president’s decision to withdraw from the Paris agreement and to whether he accepts that human-caused climate change is a scientific reality. But the networks undercovered or ignored the ways that climate change had real-life impacts on people, the economy, national security, and the year’s extreme weather events — a major oversight in a year when weather disasters killed hundreds of Americans, displaced hundreds of thousands more, and cost the economy in excess of $300 billion.
Here are their key findings …
- The Trump administration drove climate coverage in 2017: 79 percent of the time that corporate broadcast networks spent covering climate change, or 205 out of 260 total minutes, featured actions or statements by the Trump administration. The networks gave vastly less coverage to the many ways that climate change affects people’s lives through its impacts on things like extreme weather, public health, and national security.
- Virtually all coverage of climate change on Sunday shows — 94 of 95 minutes — revolved around the Trump administration.
- President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris climate agreement dominated coverage of climate-related policies and news events, being featured in 52 percent of all climate segments on the corporate broadcast networks. The Trump administration’s rollbacks of other climate protections like the Clean Power Plan received far less coverage.
- Despite 2017 being a record year for weather and climate disasters, the corporate broadcast networks rarely covered the link between climate change and extreme weather events in the U.S. They aired only four total segments that discussed climate change in the context of disasters that happened last year, including just two that mentioned climate change in the context of hurricanes Harvey, Irma, or Maria.
- CBS and PBS led all broadcast networks in the number of segments they devoted to climate change in 2017, as well as in coverage of climate-related scientific research and number of climate scientists interviewed or quoted. But CBS and PBS were also the only two networks to feature guests who flatly denied that human activity causes climate change.
- Network climate coverage in 2017 heavily featured climate denial, most of which came from Trump and officials in his administration. Nineteen percent of the networks’ climate-related segments mentioned that Trump has called climate change a “hoax,” and 37 percent of those did not rebut that claim by noting the scientific consensus around climate change or affirming the reality of climate change.
The topic of Climate Change has very much penetrated the public consciousness in a deeper way and rightly so, because 2017 has been a record breaking year for climate related disasters. The cost to just the US in 2017 exceeded $300 billion.
There has been an increased awareness and concern regarding climate change, and that is perhaps very much down to Trump acting as a publicist for the issue via his ongoing denial, the withdrawal of the US from the Paris Agreement, and the appointment of ethically compromised individuals such as Scott Pruitt to head the EPA.
Here is how public perception has changed …
Clearly the realisation that Climate Change is a serious issue has grown. An appreciation that we are the prime cause has also grown.
Apparently the one person we have to thank for that is rather ironically the Climate Change denier in chief himself, Trump.