This clip, from the Sunday roundtable on ABC’s This Week, is just horrific. It was physically difficult for me to watch. I wanted to claw my eyes out. However, I suspect it’s fairly par for the course on mainstream political TV. Witness:
Start with the host, who begins by saying that climate change has become a political football for “everyone” on “both sides.” Really? What I see is one side fitfully and ineffectively trying to grapple with the problem and do something about it, while the other side rejects established science as the product of a global conspiracy.
EJ Dionne then tries to insert what passes for sanity these days, with a fairly sensible analogy to taking out insurance.
Then comes smug, oleaginous climate denier George Will:
How do we explain the heat? One word: summer. I grew up in central Illinois in a house without air conditioning. What is so unusual about this? There’s a difference between the weather and the climate. I agree with that. We’re having some hot weather. Get over it.
“Get over it.” People are dying of the heat, crops are failing, houses are burning to the ground, and here’s pencil-ass pundit George Will, enveloped in a cushion of wealth and safety, telling you to get over it. Even as the science connecting climate change with more frequent and more severe fires gets clearer and clearer.
In a sane world, the response to this kind of thing would be disgust and secondhand embarrassment — fremdschämen, as the Germans call it. Will wouldn’t be invited back on. But in the chummy world of D.C. punditry, that’s not how it works. You can’t blithely deny the connection between smoking and cancer or HIV and AIDS, but you can still be blase about your climate denialism.
Then comes the token defense of the existence of climate change, which is still a subject of controversy on cable news. The defender is Steve Rattner, Obama’s auto czar, who begins by saying, “I agree with that.” Which … kill me. Then:
The 10 hottest years on record have been in the last 12 years. The 20 hottest years on record have been in the last 30 years. There is a lot of science around this. The polar icecaps, everything we’ve all read; I don’t think we can just ignore it, George.
The polar icecaps … and … the science … jeez, George!
This is just a classic, classic bit of Dem messaging: wan, defensive, hesitant, desperate to be liked. It’s not me, it’s the science. We can’t just ignore it. Can we George?
And then, finally, over to Gwen Ifill, queen of vacuous Beltway CW, for this bit of … whatever you’d call it:
I come back to my argument in favor of vacations. I believe this is what most voters are thinking about now. I don’t think they’re getting drawn into scientific or political discussions about climate change. They just want it to stop, and they want their power to stay on.
Translation: “Most voters are as shallow as me! Wheee!”
I can’t even speculate what kind of effect this crap has on people who get their news from the boob tube. Everything about it screams, “This is a boring, tedious dispute among people you wouldn’t want to be stuck in a room with. Put it out of your mind.”
Now ask yourself: Why is Chris Hayes on at 8 a.m. on cable, while George Will gets a prime Sunday slot on a network?
Get Grist in your inbox