WASHINGTON -– So far, 2014 has seen a renewed interest in climate change on the Sunday morning political talk shows. In just the first six months of this year, the major newscasts have featured more coverage of climate change than they did in the four previous years combined, according to a new Media Matters analysis.
Media Matters puts together regular reports on broadcast coverage of climate change, and its recent studies have found a shocking shortage of stories on the subject. While the last report found more coverage in 2013 than in 2012, it was still down from the peak in coverage that happened in 2009.
But 2014 has been a busy year for climate stories. In March, a new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warned of the threats that climate change poses to economies, food supplies and human security globally. In May, federal agencies released an assessment of climate threats here in the United States. And in June, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released the first-ever limits on planet-warming greenhouse gases from existing power plants, which produce nearly 40 percent of domestic emissions.
Among the Sunday shows, ABC's "This Week," CBS' "Face The Nation," NBC's "Meet The Press," and Fox's "Fox News Sunday" have had a total of 65 minutes of climate change coverage so far this year -– which is the same amount they had in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2013 combined.
"Meet The Press" had the most coverage, with 21 minutes spent on the issue.
The report notes, however, that part of this coverage came in a debate format, in which television personality Bill Nye "The Science Guy" took on Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), who doesn't think climate change is a real problem. Though host David Gregory led the segment by affirming climate science, Media Matters argues that the debate format in the show "misinformed audiences … with false balance."
"Face The Nation" had 18 minutes of climate programing and "This Week" had 16 minutes. "Fox News Sunday" had one segment on climate change, but the featured guests included George Will and others who, like him, dismiss the reality of climate change. "Fox News Sunday" was also the only show that did not include any climate scientists in its coverage.
The increased coverage comes after a push from senators to improve reporting on climate change in Sunday shows. Media Matters reports that coverage on nightly news, however, has not increased so far in 2014.
CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that senators were also targeting nightly news programs' climate change reporting; their efforts were focused specifically on Sunday morning news shows.