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Oct 20, 2016

NYT Opinion: The Debates Were a Failure of Journalism - October 20, 2016

Thursday, October 20, 2016


The New York Times

NYTimes.com/Opinion »

Opinion

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Josh Haner/The New York Times
Wednesday wrapped up three weeks of presidential campaign debates. It was also a three-week period in which cities in at least 34 states reported record-high temperatures. New York reached 80 degrees yesterday, and Nashville nearly hit 90.
This year is all but guaranteed to be the planet’s hottest on record, just as 2015 and 2014 were. The damage from climate change is now speeding up.
And how many questions were Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump, Tim Kaine and Mike Pence asked about climate change over the six hours of their four combined debates?
Zero.
The closest was a question from a town hall participant, who asked how the country could have an energy policy that was both environmentally friendly while also “minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers.”
The failure to ask about climate change is a failure of journalism. I thought that the debate moderators had some very fine moments over the last few weeks, calmly drawing out the candidates. But the lack of a single question on the world’s biggest problem was a grievous error.
The moderators asked about a lot of other serious issues: Syria, Russia, terrorism, tax policy, health care and the Supreme Court. They also asked about Trump’s early morning tweets and about Clinton’s and Trump’s favorability ratings. Somehow, amid all of that, climate change didn’t make the cut.
You can find a complete list of the questions asked at the four debates here.