News Release

Will the Debates Continue Blocking out Climate?


President Trump and Democratic nominee Joe Biden are scheduled to have their first debate on Tuesday.

Cohen recently wrote the piece “Earth to Presidential Debate Moderators: ‘I’m Burning Up‘” and is co-founder of RootsAction Education Fund which launched a petition to the moderators of this fall’s four planned debates organized by the bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates: Chris Wallace of Fox News, Susan Page of USA Today, Steve Scully of C-SPAN, and Kristen Welker/NBC News.

The petition highlights: “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!”

Cohen notes that “Fox’s Chris Wallace announced six topics for the first debate that he’ll moderate on Tuesday. Climate was not on the list.”

Cohen is also a retired journalism professor at Ithaca College, author of Cable News Confidential: My Misadventures in Corporate Media and founder of the media watch group FAIR.

See recent piece from FAIR: “With Planet at Stake, Moderators Must Make Climate a Focus of Debates.”

See recent Washington Post column by Margaret Sullivan quoting Cohen: “Rewrite that list of debate topics, Chris Wallace. And put the climate crisis at No. 1.”