The corporate media has long failed miserably to cover the climate crisis with the urgency, accuracy, and frequency that the science demands, so green groups and scientists cautiously applauded after NBC's "Meet the Press" devoted its entire hour-long Sunday show to climate change and its devastating consequences.
"We pushed serious climate and economic policy into the national discussion since the midterms."
Described by one observer as the first of its kind, NBC's segment was viewed by youth climate leaders as a major testament to the power of persistent grassroots organizing to bring a life-or-death issue like the global climate crisis to the center of national attention.
"Glad that 'Meet the Press' devoted a full hour to climate change—that's huge and shows how grassroots organizing is making climate change a top issue in our country," declared the youth-led Sunrise Movement on Twitter. "Next time we'd love to see Rep.-elect Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) plus a young person from the Sunrise Movement on to talk about the Green New Deal."
Glad that @MeetThePress devoted a full hour to #climatechange -- that's huge & shows how grassroots organizing is making climate change a top issue in our country.@chucktodd -- next time we'd love to see @AOC + a young person from @sunrisemvmt on to talk about the #GreenNewDeal https://t.co/o2732i9EgR
— Sunrise Movement (@sunrisemvmt) December 30, 2018
We pushed serious climate and economic policy into the national discussion since the midterms.https://t.co/O5Qq3ilpNF
— Justice Democrats (@justicedems) December 30, 2018
This sentiment was echoed by Intercept contributing writer Kate Aronoff, who argued that it's not enough to run a single segment on the climate crisis—media outlets must also consistently elevate voices pushing for the ambitious solutions that are necessary to avert planet-wide catastrophe.
"The kind of enraging thing about this is that because climate change gets talked about so little on Sunday talk shows, there's not much appetite for evaluating the quality of this conversation."
—Kate Aronoff, The Intercept
"Great that 'Meet the Press' devoted a whole hour to climate change! But why not bring on a Green New Deal advocate like Ocasio-Cortez or [Sunrise Movement founder] Varshini Prakash rather than (or even in addition to!) billionaires and a one-term outgoing congressman who presided over a defunct, ineffective caucus?" Aronoff wrote, referring to former New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg and Rep. Carlos Curbelo (D-Fla.), who both made appearances during the segment.
"The kind of enraging thing about this is that because climate change gets talked about so little on Sunday talk shows, there's not much appetite for evaluating the quality of this conversation. The bar is literally: 'discuss climate change without debating physical realities,'" Aronoff noted, alluding to NBC host Chuck Todd's pronouncement during the show that he is "not going to debate climate change, the existence of it."
As meteorologist and Grist staff writer Eric Holthaus put it, segments that purport to accurately convey the urgency of confronting the climate crisis must feature "guests who acknowledge the scientific imperative of radical decarbonization over the next 12 years."
"Talking about climate change (and the fact that a better world is possible) is the most important thing any of us can do," Holthaus added.
So -- Sunday news show producers, more of this please. Especially w/ guests who acknowledge the scientific imperative of radical decarbonization over the next 12 years. @AOC, @IlhanMN, @AyannaPressley, @RoKhanna, @sunrisemvmt -- as well as almost literally any climate scientist.
— Eric Holthaus (@EricHolthaus) December 30, 2018
NBC's climate crisis segment—which also featured NASA climate scientist Kate Marvel—comes just weeks after Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) went around the corporate media and hosted a climate town hall that was streamed by independent progressive news outlets.
"We have found that on some of the most important issues facing this country and the world, corporate media, generally speaking, is not there," Sanders told The Intercept's Naomi Klein in an interview ahead of the town hall, which featured Ocasio-Cortez, 350.org founder Bill McKibben, and others. "If we do not get our act together, I worry about the planet that we will be leaving... The grassroots of this country has got to stand up."
"When you talk about real issues, I would think that maybe the survival of the planet that we live on might be an issue of some concern to some people," Sanders added.
In response to NBC's segment on Sunday, the Vermont senator asked on Twitter, "Will this be a breakthrough moment for mainstream TV, which rarely discusses this issue?"