Breaking: Moderate Dems Say They Want a Climate Bill in 2010!


Photo via the NY Times

Oh, fickle news cycle--how irresponsible and groundless the stories ye yield may be. Just yesterday, Politico, allegedly the go-to news source for beltway insiders, ran a story proclaiming that moderate Democratic senators were calling on the White House to abandon the climate bill. Since that 'breaking' news turned out to be merely the same 3 or 4 moderate Democrats who've always complained about the climate bill making the same complaints they've always made (gasp), perhaps this news can cancel it out: now, other moderate Democratic senators are saying they do want a climate bill next year.Big news, right?

This is why it's getting increasingly harder to take such 'breaking' political news seriously--it's often subject to the narrative the magazine or newspaper wishes to play out. For instance, take a gander at the Politico story. The headline reads Senate Democrats to W.H.: Drop cap-and-trade. Which, technically, isn't false--though it is misleading. But "3 Senate Democrats Complain About Cap-and-Trade"--which really, truly, is the more accurate headline for that story, even if you don't change a word in Politico's report--is hardly news. Politico knows this, hence the generalizing and melodrama. End rant--and onto the good news.

That is, if you can call it 'news' at all. In an infinitely more accurate report on the lay of the land for the climate bill battle from the Hill (via Climate Progress), it's noted that "dozens of Democrats want to move a climate change bill, including centrists such as Sen. Arlen Specter (Pa.), who faces a tough primary fight and then a difficult general election battle." Far from sugarcoating the situation--that piece's headline is "Senate climate change fight looks as tough as healthcare reform bill"--it nonetheless makes an effort to accurately convey where clean energy reform actually stands politically.

Who cares, you might ask. Why does one minor misleading report matter, especially when the bill's debate won't begin for another couple months? Because the tone is once again being set for over dramatic, hyperbolic news coverage--because the climate bill is almost certainly going to be as noisy as the health care reform bill, and it seems important that we go into the proceedings with a clear head. Is that so much to ask? Trust me, we'll have plenty of time to hear from Hannity and Beck how energy reform will lead us to communist Nazism, and from Keith Olbermann how Hannity and Beck are the worst people in all possible universes. For now, let's keep an eye on the facts.

More on the Senate Climate Bill
Senator Merkley: Climate Bill Presents "a Choice Between Clean Air and Dirty Air"
The 5-Minute Guide to the Senate Climate Bill

Tags: Congress | Global Climate Change | Global Warming Solutions | United States

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