This past week, NBC completed its Green Is Universal campaign -- a week-long
to educate and engage the public by infusing its programming with environmental
themes. The effort resulted in everything from Matt Lauer reporting from the
Arctic circle to Al Gore making a cameo appearance on 30 Rock parodying
Throughout the week, global warming was front and center. And then there was
As the network's Washington Bureau Chief, Mr. Russert was surely alerted to the
broadly publicized campaign. The emerald green tie he donned in Sunday's Meet
the Press interview with Senator Barack Obama would seem to confirm that. But
you watched the interview, you probably noticed that Tim Russert didn't
get the memo. Instead, Russert continued his long-running pattern of ignoring
issue that the American voters, the international community and the world's
scientists have all identified as one of our most pressing challenges. Not to
mention one of the most consequential.
How bad have Tim's interviews been? Over the past ten months, presidential
candidates have made 16 appearances on Meet the Press. In the nearly three
hundred questions he has asked the candidates, not once has he uttered the
"global warming." Not once.
At the two debates Mr. Russert has moderated, he has found time to discuss a
national smoking ban, the drinking age, Bible verses, baseball, and even UFOs
but not once did he ask how candidates would address the climate crisis.
His lack of coverage of the issue has been so glaring that one can only wonder
whether he still needs to be convinced that global warming is a problem.
Of course, this failure is not his alone, but he is certainly the worst and
prominent example of it.
As a result, it is not surprising that the majority of the Republican
have coasted through the primary without having to outline any specific
to address global warming. And while most of the Democrats have detailed plans,
there has been little effort to compare their policies and gauge who is best
prepared to tackle this historic challenge.
So here we are at the tail-end of an unprecedented year-long primary campaign
and the media has largely failed to ask difficult and direct questions about
of the greatest challenges humanity has ever faced.
In light of this failure, several groups have partnered with Grist to host a
presidential forum -- Global Warming & America's Energy Future -- this Saturday in
Angeles. This will be the first event exclusively devoted to questioning the
candidates on their policies and vision for tackling our growing energy
problems. But with dozens more candidate forums, debates and interviews, the
real question is this:
As interesting as it is to ponder whether we are alone in the universe, when on
Earth will Mr. Russert cover global warming as a political issue?
To learn more about the event or to watch a webcast of it, go here.