By Desi Doyen on 4/3/2015, 5:10pm PT  

We played a clip from the above during yesterday's Green News Report, but here's the whole two and a half minutes worth. (A near-eternity in network evening news time.)

It was the evening of April 3, 1980 when legendary CBS News anchor Walter Cronkite first warned America of scientists' concern about global warming. An obscure and quaint anniversary for news geeks, to be sure, but an interesting one, because it illustrates three important points...

First, thanks to the just-the-facts-ma'am approach of "Uncle Walter" and correspondent Nelson Benton, the story unfolds simply and succinctly, absent false balance and perverse punditry. It highlights how mainstream media news reporting has mutated and deteriorated in the intervening years, and now routinely fails to examine serious, complex issues like civilization-challenging climate change.

Second, it's remarkable how long politicians have known about the looming, compounding consequences of dumping carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere --- at least since 1980, when this national news broadcast covered a Congressional hearing on the subject. And yet, in all of those years, Congress has still failed to act.

Third, it's even more remarkable how long the climate change denial industry has managed to successfully block action --- at least 35 years --- and somewhat sickening, considering the lost decades of missed opportunity, even as we are just beginning to grasp the magnitude and reach of climate change impacts.

Thanks to the two Peters of climate communication: the indispensable Peter Sinclair of Climate Crocks, who unearths these historical gems and creates the best climate science videos; and Peter Dykstra of The Daily Climate, for highlighting the Cronkite report's nicely-rounded 35th anniversary, and for his wry observations on the state of TV news. Dykstra is a former CNN executive producer, after all [emphasis added]:

In all likelihood, the no-nonsense, avuncular Cronkite or Nelson Benton couldn't get past the first job interview today. And the top-rated anchorman doesn't get called "The Most Trusted Man in America" anymore. For the past several years, the top-rated anchor has been Brian Williams, and neither he nor his rivals or successors would air a prime time editorial to change hearts and minds on climate change.
And to paraphrase the signature close to Uncle Walter's nightly newscast, that, unfortunately, is The Way It Is.

Indeed it is.

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ADDENDUM: That 35-year-old report is still accurate and relevant today --- featured prominently in Peter Sinclair's recent post in his "Climate Change, Elevator Pitch" series, this one with science historian Naomi Oreskes (co-author of the book Merchants of Doubt: How a Handful of Scientists Obscured the Truth on Issues from Tobacco Smoke to Global Warming, now a must-see documentary film)...

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Desi Doyen is the co-host and managing editor of The BRAD BLOG's Green News Report, the producer of KPFK's The BradCast and an occasional guest host on The Young Turks. Follow her on Twitter at: @GreenNewsReport.

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