Al Gore
Al Gore
CGIAR Climate

Should the media be giving as much ink to fossil fuel-funded shills as it gives to the hundreds of climate scientists who collaborated on reports being published by the United Nations?

As coverage of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s latest assessment report reaches fever pitch, some mainstream media outlets are treating climate science as if it were just an abstract political debate. They are falling into the trap of treating it as a mind-numbing to-and-fro argument with no right and no wrong — instead of something produced through good old-fashioned scientific rigor.

That pisses a lot of people off. One of them is Al Gore.

Gore, the former vice president who should have been president but instead used Powerpoint to put climate change on a lot of regular folks’ radars, is not shy about using his outsized soapbox. He was blunt in sharing his reflections Friday during a talk at the Brookings Institution. Here are some choice quotes, as transcribed by The Hill:

“Here in the U.S., the news media has been intimidated, frightened, and not only frightened, they are vulnerable to distorted news judgments because the line separating news and entertainment has long since been crossed, and ratings have a big influence on the selection of stories that are put on the news.”

“And the deniers of the climate crisis, quite a few of them paid by the large fossil fuel polluters — really it is like a family with an alcoholic father who flies into a rage if anyone mentions alcohol, and so the rest of the family decides to keep the peace by never mentioning the elephant in the room. And many in the news media are exactly in that position.”

“They get swarmed by these deniers online and in letters and pickets and all that if they even mention the word climate, and so they very timidly, they get frightened and they are afraid to mention the word climate.”

“Their purpose is to condition thinking and to prevent the consideration of a price on carbon. It’s just that simple.”

That simplicity is worth keeping in mind the next time you encounter a media outlet playing the old “on the one hand, on the other hand” game with climate science.