TV Talking Heads Wrong Again

The voters of Iowa and New Hampshire have made it clear that global warming is a priority for them and several of the candidates have placed the issue at the center of their campaigns. So the question still remains: what is the media waiting for?

Talking to Chris Matthews during MSNBC’s coverage of the New Hampshire primary, Tom Brokaw lamented the coverage of this year’s horse race, suggesting the media should reevaluate its desire to canonize pollsters and pundits and allow voters to make up their own minds. Especially since, in his words, “there are a lot of issues that have not been fully explored during all this.

One of those issues is global warming. According to LCV’s running tally at www.whataretheywaitingfor.com, the top five Sunday hosts - Russert, Stephanopoulos, Blitzer, Schieffer and Wallace - have now conducted and moderated more than 150 interviews and debates with the presidential candidates. In that time, they have asked 2,679 questions. Of that total, only three have mentioned global warming. Three.

LCV applauds ABC’s Charlie Gibson for sparking a discussion on global warming in last week’s Democratic presidential debate, which remains one of the rare instances that the issue has been discussed in a debate during the longest primary in our nation’s history.

But global warming is not a Democratic or a Republican issue - all candidates should be repeatedly questioned on their plans to tackle this historic challenge.

To date, only two of the GOP candidates have called for mandatory action on global warming; the rest would follow President Bush’s failed voluntary policy.

In the next three weeks, there will be no fewer then five debates, including tonight’s GOP debate in South Carolina. There will also be countless more interviews on the Sunday shows. Voters deserve to know where the candidates stand on this urgent threat.

The next president will determine how Americans and our partners around the world avert the devastating and irreversible consequences of climate change. We urge the television reporters and debate hosts to join voters in pressing the candidates on this issue.

Tally of Questions (as of January 7, 2008)

Total for 5 Top Political Reporters
Number of Interviews & Debates: 153
Number of Questions: 2,679
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 3
Global Warming Related Questions: 24

Wolf Blitzer (CNN--Late Edition)
Total Number of Interviews & Debates: 35
Total Number of Questions: 362
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 1
Global Warming Related Questions: 3

Tim Russert (NBC--Meet the Press)
Total Number of Interviews & Debates: 24
Total Number of Questions: 795
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 0
Global Warming Related Questions: 12

Bob Schieffer (CBS--Face the Nation)
Total Number of Interviews & Debates: 24
Total Number of Questions: 253
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 0
Global Warming Related Questions: 0

George Stephanopoulos (ABC--This Week)
Total Number of Interviews & Debates: 43
Total Number of Questions: 767
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 0
Global Warming Related Questions: 5

Chris Wallace (Fox News--Fox News Sunday)
Total Number of Interviews & Debates: 27
Total Number of Questions: 502
Questions That Mention Global Warming: 2
Global Warming Related Questions: 4