Jun
10
2011

To WaPo, Planet's Fate Is a 'Second-Tier Issue'

The Washington Post had a piece yesterday (6/9/11) on Mitt Romney's views on global warming. It serves as a reminder that Republican political candidates are under enormous pressure from the right-wing base of the party on this issue–any politician who's ever suggested that climate change is a problem, or backed efforts to address it, is in trouble.

This is an important thing to point out. But that doesn't mean the Post thinks climate change is important. See the article's lead sentence:

It seemed like a straightforward question on a second-tier issue: Would Mitt Romney disavow the science behind global warming?

Is the fate of the planet a "second-tier issue"?

Romney's views–"he believes the world is getting warmer and that humans are contributing to that pattern," explains the Post–aren't pleasing the far right, whom the Post gives ample space to vent:

"Bye-bye, nomination," Rush Limbaugh said Tuesday on his radio talk show after playing a clip of Romney's climate remark. "Another one down. We're in the midst here of discovering that this is all a hoax. The last year has established that the whole premise of man-made global warming is a hoax, and we still have presidential candidates that want to buy into it."

Then came the Club for Growth, which issued a white paper criticizing Romney. "Governor Romney's regulatory record as governor contains some flaws," the report said, "including a significant one–his support of 'global warming' policies."

And Conservatives4Palin.com, a blog run by some of former Alaska governor Sarah Palin's more active supporters, posted an item charging that Romney is "simpatico" with President Obama after he "totally bought into the man-made global warming hoax."

Prominent climate change "skeptic" Christopher Horner from the Competitive Enterprise Institute is also quoted. There's never any indication that what these people are saying is nonsense–perhaps because this is a story about politics, and facts shouldn't get in the way.

The closest thing to that kind of balancing perspective is when the Post pointed out that public opinion is divided:

Public opinion is politicized on the issue. A March Gallup poll found that 32 percent of Republicans think the effects of global warming are already being felt and 36 percent believe the rise in the Earth's temperatures is caused by humans, while 67 percent say the seriousness of global warming is exaggerated in the news.

The same survey found the opposite trend on the other side of the political fence. Sixty-two percent of Democrats polled said the effects of global warming have begun, and 71 percent said humans are causing the rising temperatures, while 22percent think the situation is exaggerated. Among independents, there was a fairly even split on those questions.

I'm not sure "politicized" is the most useful term to use here. If many more Republicans believe that Iraq had WMDs, or that Saddam Hussein was involved in the 9/11 attacks, or that the Earth is flat, are such views "politicized"–or simply inaccurate?

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.