The Presidential Debates Need to Focus on Climate Change

September 27th, 2020 - by Jeff Cohen / Reader Supported News & David Swanson / David & World BEYOND War

Earth to Presidential Debate Moderators: “I’m Burning Up”

Jeff Cohen / Reader Supported News

 (September 24, 2020) — A new petition asks presidential (and vice-presidential) debate moderators not to remain silent on climate, as they have in the past. The petition, launched by RootsAction Education Fund (which I co-founded), is being delivered to the moderators of this fall’s four debates: Chris Wallace of Fox News, Susan Page of USA Today, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, and Kristen Welker of NBC News.

The petition, which offers shocking history, reads in full:

In 2016, not a single question about global warming and the climate crisis was asked by mainstream media moderators in the four general election debates (three presidential and one vice-presidential). The term “climate change” was only uttered a few times, in passing, because Hillary Clinton brought it up.

In 2012, in the four general election debates, moderators asked no questions about climate change– and neither President Obama nor Mitt Romney (nor VP candidates Joe Biden and Paul Ryan) ever mentioned the issue.

In hours of debates in 2012 and 2016, there were zero questions on the climate crisis from moderators hand-picked by the two major parties.

In 2020, end your silence on this crucial issue!

Yesterday, Fox’s Chris Wallace announced six topics for the first debate that he’ll moderate on Tuesday. Climate was not on the list.

The petition, which is still gathering signatures, is aimed at waking up this year’s debate moderators — because past moderators were asleep at the wheel on the climate catastrophe, a sleepiness that has long afflicted corporate news outlets heavily sponsored by fossil fuel companies.

At the least, one would hope this year’s moderators will probe Trump about his total rejection of climate science. But it would be refreshing to see them question Biden on whether his proposals — initially described as ‘middle ground’ — comport with the urgent timelines established by climate scientists.

One reason presidential debates are so disappointing is because questioners are not aggressive, independent journalists chosen by nonpartisan civic or educational groups. In the general election, moderators are basically chosen by the two major parties, hiding behind the fig leaf of a debate commission they set up and control.

Yesterday, the media watch group FAIR alerted members of the public to contact moderators directlyand urge them “to make the climate crisis a key focus of the debates.”

With the horrific fires on the West Coast and hurricanes and storms pounding the Caribbean and Gulf Coast, in a healthy democracy, one would expect presidential candidates to be pressed hard about climate chaos. I’m not holding my breath.

Jeff Cohen is co-founder of and RootsAction Education Fund, a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College, and author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media. In 1986, he founded the media watch group FAIR. Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.

Two-Thirds of Presidential Debate Should Be About Militarism

David Swanson / David & World BEYOND War

Source: here and here.

(September 26, 2020) — Over half of the money that Congress decides what to do with every year is for wars and war preparations, year after year.

When you add in police and prisons, and the militarization of police and prisons — and of borders and airports — and the Veterans Administration, you’re talking about two-thirds of the money.

So the big question is, of course, why do I hate Veterans?

Oh, go Dick Cheney yourself. I support universal free healthcare and education and guaranteed retirement and childcare and transportation and sustainable energy for every human being, veteran or not.

So the serious question is how the hell am I going to pay for that?

Well, with a fraction of what’s spent now on the militarized budget, of course.

Plus a fraction of what should be taxed from corporations and the ultra rich.

But what about the non-discretionary spending?

What about it? Much of it is for Social Security and healthcare, but a big chunk of it is for militarism — including debt for past wars.

So really I think we’re left with: why do I hate the troops?

I adore them. I want to offer them the choice of free college instead of enlistment — don’t you? Or do you not love them as much as I do?

Now, can we focus?

The U.S. government is not a government. It’s not an institution that can watch a deadly disease pandemic approaching from thousands of miles away, pick up a baseball bat, swing, and hit anything other than its own rear end.

The U.S. government is a war-making, weapons-dealing, death machine. It is leading the world in:

  • coronavirus
  • wars
  • war preparations
  • weapons bought
  • weapons sold
  • nations bombed
  • bases abroad
  • bases in the Fatherland
  • oops, I mean Homeland
  • people locked up
  • people killed by police
  • people killed by guns
  • contributions to climate collapse
  • contributions to risk of nuclear apocalypse

A debate that mentions none of this, between two senile elderly male white servants of corporate power who oppose Medicare for All, a Green New Deal, free college, defunding police, demilitarization, ending drone murder, ending wars, closing bases, or converting to peaceful industries is not a debate. It’s filler for advertisements.

Asking one of them if he’ll respect the election results he’s busy rigging is interesting, but how much lower can standards go? None of the corporate-approved topics is unimportant (if done right), but all of them misrepresent the job being auditioned for.

The leader of the biggest ever war machine is an important position in the world. Pretending it’s an election for a model human being, a prom king, a figure head, or pretending it’s an election for a leader of a normal government of some other country is irresponsible.

Two thirds of the debate should be about what the US government spends two-thirds of its time and our money doing: killing.

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