The Mainstream Media’s Climate Change Doctrine of Unfairness

FACT: A recent heat wave in the Siberian tundra has released long-dormant anthrax spores in melting permafrost, killing a child, 2,300 reindeer, and sickening thirteen people.

“This week’s anthrax outbreak signals that global warming is transforming Siberia’s lonely wilderness into a feverish nightmarescape”, reports an August 1st report from Common Dreams.

FACT: Louisiana has been in the grips of its second “1,000-year flood” this year. As NBC News reported:

The heavy rain began on Friday, with between 6 and 10 inches of rain falling on parts of southeast Louisiana. Several more inches fell Saturday, according to the National Weather Service.

In a 24-hour period, Baton Rouge had as much as 11 inches, according to The Associated Press.

Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards warned, “This is unprecedented. Please don’t rely on your experiences in the past.” Meteorologists Jeff Masters and and Bob Henson stated, “Some of the 24-hour rains that fell on Friday [August 12] in Louisiana had a recurrence interval at over 500 years, according to Metstat.”.

FACT: The 650-person Alaskan village Shishmaref, which lies just north of the Bering Strait, voted on August 16 whether or not to relocate due to rapidly rising sea level. Where they may go, though, no one yet knows, but the move is estimated to cost $180 million.

FACT: India has has been locked in seemingly endless cycles of drought and flood. The heat is baking soil and melting Himalayan glaciers.

FACT: Southern and eastern Africa have been so dry, the drought is causing humanitarian crises.

FACT: Wildfires storm across America

FACT: Coral reefs around the world are bleaching and dying.

You don’t need me telling you a primary culprit of these events is anthropogenic climate change. If you’re here at this site, chances are you’re not a climate denier. You understand climate change is bound to place us in extreme peril if we don’t immediately enact some meaningful legislation designed to significantly curb carbon emissions. This is troubling for many reasons, especially when we consider 2016 is the hottest year on record, beating 2015, which held the previous record. In fact, each year of this century has been hotter than the one preceding it. According to NASA, last month (July) was the hottest ever recorded. Repeat: ever recorded. You also already know American mainstream media is silent on this issue lest it irritate the fossil fuel corporations underwriting much of its operations. So you’re not going to hear on CNN, MSNBC, ABC, CBS, and definitely not on Fox so-called News, that the real peril we’ve been told we’ll be in has already arrived. These outlets are committing journalistic malfeasance, and we can blame it, in part, on Ronald Reagan, who stopped enforcing the Fairness Doctrine back in 1987.

What is the “Fairness Doctrine”? It used to be a Federal Communications Commission (FCC) policy that broadcast licenses required for radio and television were a form of public trust, and licensees were obligated to provide balanced and fair coverage of controversial issues. Today, sadly, it is nothing. In June 1987, Congress attempted to codify it, but President Reagan vetoed the bill. In 1991, President George H.W. Bush followed with another veto. Representative Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) introduced while serving in the 109th Congress (2005-2007) H.R. 3302, the “Media Ownership Reform Act of 2005” “to restore the Fairness Doctrine.” Although it had sixteen co-sponsors, it also failed.

Climate change is not the only casualty of this. The ceasing of the Fairness Doctrine is responsible for a great deal of what our media is not reporting. From anything related to the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), net neutrality, pharmaceutical drug prices, all the way up to the truth about climate change, we are left virtually ignorant. Instead, news has become a profit-driven industry with controversial issues having the potential to embarrass corporations whose executives sit on media outlets’ boards of directors. To avoid that, the mainstream media simply feeds the American audience horse-race election statistics, scandal theories, and disaster porn. Turn on one of the major news channels right now and wait for the commercials. Did you see any for fossil fuel corporations? What about those promoting some new drugs about which you are urged to “ask your doctor”? Those sponsors should have nothing to do with your ability to acquire the headlines, but there they are, influencing your opinions, announcing their agendas.

Humanity is literally facing the most urgent existential threat it has ever confronted, and those we entrust with our information are instead imperiling us further. It’s pathetic we must rely solely on alternative media to obtain any real coverage of the events heretofore reported and cited below. Since most millenials and many non-millenials under age fifty get their news from the Internet, this may not seem like much of an issue. Those over fifty, though, the demographic cited as gleaning its knowledge of current events from television news, are far less informed about climate change, and it’s helping to widen the gap between information, disinformation, and outright ignorance.

We are the only industrialized nation on the planet that has a major political party denying the science of climate change. Our republican nominee has even gone so far as to blame the Chinese for the global warming “hoax”. Last February, Senator James Inhofe from Oklahoma stood on the Senate floor, removed a snowball from a plastic bag, and proceeded to lecture the chamber on the apparent absurdity of climate change while there was snow outside. How they get away with this, though, is partly due to media silence on it. If the major television news agencies just reported on climate change for even a few minutes, the perception of this most pressing of crises would likely progress from embarrassing denial to appropriate alarm. A major step in ensuring this happens is reinstating the Fairness Doctrine.

Call your member of Congress at 202-224-3121, and urge him or her to introduce a bill reviving the Fairness Doctrine. Don’t know your member of Congress? Click here. Email will suffice as well. While you’re at it, contact your Senators too. Let them know it’s dangerous to keep mum about climate change any longer. The science is not longer debatable. It’s simply a partisan issue that shouldn’t be.


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