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Cable Networks Largely Ignore Major Climate Change Report

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NEW YORK -– The New York Times led Monday’s paper with an ominous headline potentially affecting everyone on Earth: “Panel’s Warning On Climate Risk: Worst Is To Come.”

A major new report from the United Nations' Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change detailed how climate change is already impacting the planet, including rising sea levels, increasingly acidic oceans, melting ice caps and brutal heat waves. The report, according to the Times, “cited the risk of death or injury on a widespread scale, probable damage to public health, displacement of people and potential mass migrations.”

But such dramatic findings weren't treated with similar urgency Monday morning on CNN, MSNBC and Fox News. The three cable news networks largely ignored the IPCC's findings between 6:00 a.m. and noon, according to a search using media monitoring service TVEyes.

CNN briefly mentioned the U.N. report during two news roundups, speaking about it for roughly 40 seconds of airtime out of six hours.

However, CNN found plenty of time to devote to missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. The network has been obsessively covering the mystery for several weeks, regardless of whether there's any new information to report.

CNN led its 6 a.m. morning show, “New Day,” with a roughly 10-minute report and discussion on the plane, featuring analysts. Later that same hour, CNN aired a roughly seven-minute segment on the ongoing search in the Indian Ocean. And just before 7 a.m., co-host Chris Cuomo again jumped back to the missing plane story, with a correspondent in Perth, Australia, and analysts talking for nine more minutes. CNN returned to the story several times throughout the morning.

Meanwhile, MSNBC spent about 20 seconds on the IPCC report during the same six hours, according to TVEyes. (Though host Joy Reid took a deeper dive into it during the 2 p.m. hour.) Fox News, which has long cast doubt on the climate change, despite overwhelming scientific consensus, unsurprisingly ignored the report.

It's possible that primetime cable news shows will devote more time on Monday evening to the IPCC report. But the lack of attention throughout the morning was notable considering how a relative newcomer to the U.S. cable market handled the story.

Al Jazeera America covered the report more comprehensively during the 9 a.m. hour than CNN, MSNBC and Fox News combined in the six hours analyzed. In addition to detailing the report's findings, AJAM demonstrated the real-world impact in a report about how some Bangladeshis have been forced to leave their homes because of rising sea levels.

It’s not as if AJAM is the only cable news network with the ability to quickly pivot to the climate change report, which was released early Monday in Yokohama, Japan.

CNN Newsroom devoted a few minutes to the climate change report Monday morning, but only during an hour in which either U.S. insomniacs or international viewers were likely tuning in. CNN covered the IPCC report at 3:22 a.m., and then later that hour turned to Exeter University professor Neil Adger, one of the report's lead authors, to discuss his work for 3 1/2 minutes.

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