The Camera Never Denies

Good on Mark Phillips of CBS News for his series this past week on the impact that human-caused climate change is having on our world. After years of US broadcast and cable entities downplaying and dismissing the importance of this issue, it was quite impressive to see Phillips and CBS report on the climate crisis with the extensive focus this problem deserves.

Of course, CBS could have produced this series this time last year, prior to Donald the Denier’s ascension to the White House and the subsequent selection of climate-contemptuous Scott Pruitt to run the Environmental Protection Agency. However, had CBS done so, the first-grade dropouts who insist that Trump was right when he labeled climate change nothing more than chicanery from the Chinese would have assailed CBS for alleged liberal bias, as right-wing media entities and the fossil-fuel industry long taught them to; presumably, they’re too embarrassed by the failure of the fool they elected to go after CBS and Phillips as aggressively as they otherwise would.

If US broadcast and cable media entities go back to their old ways in the wake of Phillips’s outstanding work, that should be taken as a sign that those entities are still, to a certain extent, intimidated by Trump. There’s no reason why the consequences of Trump’s energy policies shouldn’t receive prominent coverage on a consistent basis; the threat those energy policies will pose to future generations is, without question, the most significant story of our time.

Speaking of time, it’s hard to believe that next week marks the 10th anniversary of An Inconvenient Truth winning two Oscars for Best Documentary and Best Original Song. We’ve forgotten that the film made such an impact on American political culture that less than a year after its release, even Republicans such as then-South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford were writing the following:

[C]onservatives must respond to climate change with innovation, not regulation. This means encouraging private research and implementation of more eco-friendly construction, more energy-efficient workplaces and more sustainable ways of going about life — all of which cuts costs and protects God’s creation…

I am a conservative conservationist who worries that sea levels and government intervention may end up rising together. My earnest hope going forward is that we can find conservative solutions to the climate change problem — ecologically responsible solutions based on free-market principles that both improve our quality of life and safeguard our freedoms.

For if conservatives cannot reframe, reclaim and respond to climate change with our principles intact, government will undoubtedly provide a solution, no matter how taxing it may be.

Of course, right-wing hacks decided that the more effective strategy was just to scream “Hoax!” over and over until a critical mass of voters bought into the idea that real science was actually fake science. As my former radio colleague Betsy Rosenberg recently observed, on the very rare occasions when Fox-obsessed voters watch a documentary about the climate crisis, their minds do change. However, one can’t help wondering: If broadcast and cable media entities did a better job of documenting the threat humanity faces from the fossil fuel industry, would more Americans, regardless of their politics, change their minds about where they should place the climate crisis on their list of concerns when they head to the ballot box?

D.R. Tucker

D. R. Tucker is a Massachusetts-based journalist who has served as the weekend contributor for the Washington Monthly since May 2014. He has also written for the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the Metrowest Daily News, investigative journalist Brad Friedman's Brad Blog and environmental journalist Peter Sinclair's Climate Crocks.