End the duopoly

A Conspicuous Silence at the Democratic Debate

Four Democratic debates in, it’s plainly obvious there are two things the media wishes it didn’t have to deal with: climate change and Bernie Sanders.

Let’s start with climate change. “I hope we will discuss it at length tonight,” Sanders, whose climate plan advocate groups have overwhelmingly praised as the strongest in the race, said early on in last night’s debate. No such luck. Last night was the first debate this election where there was not a single question about what is by far the most dangerous and pressing threat to global peace and security.

To put this into perspective, June’s saw four questions on the topic, July’s saw five, and September’s had three (in which one was from a viewer, and another was grist for George Stephanopoulos to ask Joe Biden if Sanders and Elizabeth Warren are too tax-and-spendy and extreme). In fact, the topic was mentioned a mere five separate times last night: by South Bend mayor Pete Buttigieg, billionaire climate activist Tom Steyer, universal basic income advocate Andrew Yang, and, of course, Sanders.

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In other words, the corporate media have actually gotten worse at covering the issue over time in these debates, even as they’ve faced increasing criticism for barely acknowledging it exists, and even as alarming headlines and biblical-scale disasters have piled up. Both entities moderating the debate — CNN (“The climate is changing. And we’re doing nothing to stop it”) and the New York Times (“The New York Times has more climate coverage than ever”) — have been running advertisements lately touting their coverage of their crisis. Yet somehow representatives of neither outlet bothered to bring the subject up in one of the year’s more widely watched political media events. This is a disgrace, particularly in the midst of the back-patting, congratulatory discourse that has pervaded the ratings-chasing corporate media in the Trump era.


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