Category Archives: Betsy Rosenberg

The Biggest and Deadliest Right-Wing Media Lie That Must Stop

It is now painfully clear just how much virulent lies from right-wing media have fueled election fraud conspiracies and deadly domestic terrorism. By perpetuating and amplifying outlandish fantasies, millions of Americans are in a hyped up state about something that did not occur. But Fox and other conservative news and talk outlets have also contributed to, if not caused, even more harm on another front over a full blown actual crisis they willfully ignore.

I’m referring to their well-fueled disinformation campaign on climate and other life and death environmental issues. This effort has been going on for at least two decades with the science denying narrative fueled by polluters and too many Republicans to protect their assets, and positions of power, respectively. Planet, people, and the forever future be damned.

There is no indication that the right wing climate clowns are coming to their senses or even a little bit nervous about pushback, be it through legal action or pressure on advertisers. Wasting no time, several Fox shows resumed their falsehoods and unhinged attempts to sabotage all efforts to reverse or slow climate collapse on Inauguration Day and in the days following. Call it the “Foxic Effect” because the fear mongering lies about job losses and economic ruin help fortify resistance to cleaning up the environment, aka our home.

Actual news about damage accruing to our climate, weather, oceans, coral reefs, rain forests, glaciers, wildlife, food, water and human health — hastened by the departed Trump administration’s rollbacks — is routinely ignored by right-wing media channels and has been enabled by public indifference and inattention to these urgent threats.

Much of the human-caused degradation to nature is NOT reversible, rendering the Big Climate Lie even more destructive than even fomenting election fraud and partisan violence. It’s also more deadly than downplaying the science and severe threats from COVID19 — in the long term if not near future. So why don’t we hear much, if anything, about these flagrant lies? Where is the outrage, uproar and accountability on that front?

Many Americans are only newly aware of just how reckless Fox news and opinion hosts — as well as other conservative talkers — have been in peddling dangerous lies with intentional ignorance, arrogance, and impunity. That lack of awareness is understandable since well-informed citizens don’t watch Sean Hannity, Tucker Carlson, Laura Ingraham, or listen to Rush Limbaugh.

I have both witnessed first hand and experienced being the target of Hannity’s climate lies. For each of the more than dozen times I was a guest on his TV and radio shows the sparring segments alone revealed gross distortions of the truth, with low credibility delivered at high volume (see photo above). It was appalling, galling, toxic, and ought to be be criminal given the serious consequences. We have more climate deniers than any other country and science illiterate citizens vote for non- science savvy candidates. What could possibly go wrong?

In addition to loudly and frequently denying threats of climate and ecosystem collapse — while mocking the scientists and activists trying to address these epic challenges— right wing enablers on cable networks and talk radio have been rewarded for perpetuating these untruths with inexplicably high ratings and obscenely high salaries. The top Fox personalities make tens of millions of dollars each year with Hannity taking home (to his many mansions) a reported $45 million a year — to lie! And that doesn’t include speaking and promotional gigs.

How is that acceptable and why is it tolerated as our planet withers and writhes and our children’s future safety hangs in the balance?

This absurd and astonishing situation has been a focus of mine for two decades but as more people wake up to the dangers of fake news — the REAL fake news — we’re still not hearing much, if anything, about how these bloviating buffoons are major contributors to climate denial and inaction in our country. Each time I was on Hannity’s show he had paid shills for the fossil fuel industry on against me, always spewing outrageous nonsense. I actually got harassed online for daring to state that “humans are part of nature.” For them it’s a game to knock liberals, mock environmental activists and deny scientific facts. Even if we didn’t have these dark forces actively thwarting progress, the task ahead is nothing short of monumental. How dare they and where is the accountability?

If more Americans knew the truth about how quickly the window to act on climate collapse is closing — and what will happen if we don’t start dramatically curbing our emissions — we likely would not have had Donald Trump, and his corrupt cast of cronies, in the White House.

Elections have consequences and it could well take years to repair the damage, both to the climate and our country’s reputation, by pulling out of the Paris Accord. At least we have a new science-savvy Presidential team wasting no time in reversing the idiocy, returning us to the global agreement, and shutting down the controversial Keystone pipeline project. In their first week Biden/Harris did more than any previous administration to address the crisis. They’re only getting started but it will take a sustained effort to undo Trump’s rollbacks on fuel efficiency, factory emissions, and methane release from fracking and other dirty processes. It should be clear why we cannot afford any more climate clueless politicians or overpaid deny-o-saurs on national airwaves.

To those who would argue that the pandemic and threats to our democracy pose a bigger threat to our citizens and country consider this: extreme weather inflicted $95 billion worth of damage in the United States in 2020 alone and more Americans have died from emissions infused weather disasters, air and water pollution, toxins and other environmental health threats over the years — and will — than from COVID.

While our fragile democracy faces its biggest challenge in our country’s short history, it WILL survive, likely growing stronger after recent events have served as a giant wake-up call. But our fragile atmospheric and interconnected ecosystems — that make up the web of ALL life — are not so resilient when pushed to the breaking point, which science shows we are rapidly approaching.

When birds are falling from the sky, perishing in record numbers, and bees and other insects disappearing for equally mysterious and disturbing reasons, it should be a Rachel Carson moment each and every day. But if you’re a regular Fox watcher there’s no need for concern. It’s all a big hoax. Better to fear fake threats like socialism, police de-funding, an end to law and order. If the irony and hypocrisy of those manufactured “crises” aren’t apparent then you haven’t been paying attention to the news. And loosening pollution standards in the midst of a respiratory pandemic is so ironic as to be moronic.

Where is the accountability for what should be crimes against humanity leveled at highly irresponsible mega, or MAGA, media outlets posing as news organizations? They’ve clearly duped, if not brainwashed, millions of Americans and whipped up a frenzy over non-existent threats — while downplaying and denying the very real prospect of a punishing planet.

Even as some “conservative” hosts dialed back their rhetoric — a bit — on COVID, mask-wearing, and voter fraud — thanks to lawsuits — they are still getting away with murder, lying about real-world risks to our planet’s health and humanity’s future. Where are the lawsuits, harsh warnings and op-eds on that angle?

Having presented that question to lawyers, media watchdog groups, and public interest non-profits, the First Amendment keeps coming up as an obstacle to forcing the deadly lies to stop.

But you can’t yell fire in a crowded theatre — IF we ever crowd into theatres and other large public venues again — so the First Amendment does have some exceptions. Then why is it okay to allow overpaid cons on right-wing channels to yell the equivalent in reverse: to repeat on television and radio (where the large majority of talk radio is conservative or extreme right-wing) that the planet is NOT on fire? Or that there is NO climate emergency?

It’s a helluva price to pay, but if radicalization of the right — fueled by media (both traditional and social) echo chambers — leads to a cleansing of platforms and personalities that specialize in dirty lies, it will be one of the few silver linings in this devastatingly dark period.

If 2020 was the year of clarity and consequences — to better see what’s NOT working and exposing what was mostly out of view — may 2021 be a year of course correction. Until media perpetrators who are the opposite of patriots are called out and shown the exit door, there can be no healing of people, our political divide, or the planet; our life support system.

If Trump has blood on his hands — not only from rampaging mobs but from other hate crimes that have led to deaths on his watch — he also has carbon fueled carnage on his hands. And so does the Murdoch family. While we’re all washing our hands of the virus, let’s also make now the time to clean up our media landscape and rid it of virulent untruths and propaganda. With the clock ticking on emissions reduction deadlines, there isn’t a day to waste.

And while we’re at it…removing the liars from broadcast and cable airwaves addresses only half the problem. Mainstream news channels need to start covering climate and environmental developments more regularly as if they constitute an emergency, equal if not surpassing threats to our public health and democracy. These are no longer slow moving or distant challenges and ecological damage is enduring, much of it not likely to be reversible, and global in nature.

Mainstream news channels, especially the widely viewed networks, must also begin offering content on solutions even if it means interrupting their regularly scheduled (political) programming, just like they do for COVID and other news du jour. What better use of mass media outlets right now? How are we ever going to get off our gasses if we’re not having a national conversation about how to do it? We’re late getting on this, it’s complicated, and we need more than an occasional 2 minute story, or segment, on breaking climate news.

Just look at what near-constant coverage and dot-connecting did to expose and educate Americans about the pandemic, and impact behavior nearly overnight. Why treat our existential earth emergency any differently? Our home IS on fire and the sky really IS falling. Does anyone out there know how to reassemble intricate and interconnected ecosystems? So why are we destroying them so nonchalantly and piling on the damage while we’re busy distracting ourselves? As President Obama said: “there IS such a thing as too late.” What will you say when your kids ask “what did you do during the narrow window to act?”

If mainstream channels fail to meet their societal obligation to inform the public about needed action to reverse the “climate virus” to keep it from worsening, that is equivalent to withholding a life-saving vaccine. The solutions are out there and everyone should know about them, if nothing else to offer Americans hope and motivation. Just as personal choices like mask wearing and social distancing impact public health; what we drive, how we build, what we eat, and who we vote for, matters for the collective good.

And it’s all connected. You may not hear about it on the news but world reknown virologists insist that if humans don’t start living in better balance with nature, and better protect wildlife habitats, we will certainly have more frequent, and deadly pandemics, perhaps worse than COVID.

There can be no public health, nor thriving democracy, on a dead planet.

#Climate Conscious #Vison2021 #Environment #Climate #Biden #Election #Riot #Capitol #Fraud #Voter #Fox #Hannity #Limbaugh #Carlson

Originally published in

After all the Accolades Some Inconvenient, Inexplicable and Inexcusable Truths Still Remain

Al Gore’s pivotal film, An Inconvenient Truth (AIT), put climate change on the world map, and got many Americans thinking, and talking, about this worsening existential threat. There has been real progress with much of it coming in late 2015, including President Obama’s executive actions, Pope Francis’ encyclical Laudato Si and the pivotal Paris Agreement. Last week’s tributes to Gore and the film’s producers were welcome and deserved. Some of us who had been concerned, and communicating about global warming for years prior, thought AIT would change everything. It didn’t.
A decade later there remain glaring gaps that are key to wider public acceptance and much needed mass action. What’s still missing comprises a long list, but at the top I put a lack of credible information and inspiration, programming aimed at the general public coming from mainstream news outlets, both broadcast and cable, and on the television and radio networks. There’s a sustainability revolution underway but you’d never know it if you just get your news from the networks only. It’s far bigger than the information or tech revolution for this one will determine our collective fate.
While world leaders, government agencies, insurance companies and corporate America have begun to take the threat(s) seriously, national news outlets are still (with a few exceptions) ignoring the biggest story of our time—what’s happening to nature, our life support system—at our own hands. Inexplicably, none of the news networks are offering any programming to educate the public, nor providing a national forum for discussing solutions about what citizens and communities can do to have a positive impact. News executives do not see this as their responsibility and assume few care enough to tune in. They also don’t know what they don’t know.
I believe they are wrong on both counts but trying to convince program executives of that, let alone get a meeting, has been a frustrating focus of mine, going back even before Gore’s film came out. In fact his was among the networks we pitched when he and Joel Hyatt owned Current TV! Gore was on my radio show when An Inconvenient Truth debuted and I’ve been trained by him, as part of his Climate Reality Project, so he knows that I’m qualified. Gore turning down a ready-to-go show on climate change while lambasting mainstream media for ignoring the issue was a little more than inconvenient – I have filed that one under “Inexplicable”.
In an anniversary interview last month Gore repeated his still apt line about how weather reports are starting to sound like The Book of Revelations. And it’s only getting worse. Last week southeastern Texas experienced its second “1 in 500 year flood” with nine lives lost. At last report fires were still burning in Canada’s tar sands territory and India melted a new high temperature record of 124 degrees Fahrenheit. Parts of Sri Lanka were under 8 feet of water and nearly 25-million Americans were in the path of severe storms carrying Wizard of Oz-like “monster tornados” touching down in Kansas and Nebraska. Weather conditions in Minneapolis were so severe that crowds at Beyonce’s concert had to evacuate the stadium. As Dorothy might say if she dropped in today, “Tornados, fires, and floods, Oh My”!
News anchors, reporters and weather people are, for the most part neglecting to connect the dots, even if only tentatively. So the public remains indifferent and the beat goes on. As well as the heat. As I write this hundreds of residents in the north of L.A. community of Calabasas are being evacuated as a 200 acre fire spreads in near 100 degree weather
Also missing in action is any meaningful discussion about the climate crisis during yet another presidential cycle. In the primary debate season moderators failed to ask substantive questions about the candidates’ plans to tackle climate change. When they did throw in a fleeting mention, there was no grilling of dismissive Republicans who dare still call it “a hoax,” including the apparent nominee, Donald Trump, who is by his own accounts “not a great believer.” That, while Trump petitions to build a seawall to protect his latest acquisition, a golf course in Ireland. Thanks to Bernie Sanders—who has long been a climate champion in the Senate—the topic has at least been raised, prompting Hillary Clinton to mention her clean energy plans more often on the campaign trail and to come out against the Keystone XL project. Continuing the climate silence giving short shrift to a phenomenon that is already altering life on earth, as we’ve known it, for yet another election cycle, is truly inexcusable.
As another climate champion in the Senate, Sheldon Whitehouse, said in a recent Time to Wake Up Senate speech, “We are sleepwalking through history as carbon piles up in the atmosphere…sitting on our hands acting helpless.” I would add that we are acting like clueless zombies and our culture is complicit in making that okay.
The persistent sad fact is that there is no government or media entity offering citizens and communities advice on how to reduce emissions and help reverse other troubling eco-trends. Of course there is plenty of information on the worldwide web and available through membership in environmental organizations like the Sierra Club and NRDC. But that requires becoming a member or actively seeking out material, which primarily is done by the already eco-aware. Why not make the best thinking on the part of experts more widely available and easily accessible? Given the scope and urgency of these multiple and overlapping crises, it is inexplicable that we are not seeing more mainstream programming focused on exploring the issues, discussing options for what’s needed to scale up.
What are we waiting for, all of Greenland to melt? Until it IS too late to stop runaway climate destruction? Or until—perish the thought—we have a climate “disbeliever” in the White House, someone who likely has the heaviest per capita eco-footprint in the world with all of his buildings, boats, golf courses and planes? Not to mention hot air.

Happy Earth Day America – Time to Get Off Our Gasses!


As I write this on the eve of the 46th anniversary of the first Earth Day, held on April 22nd, 1970, a “500 year flood” in Houston has already destroyed 1,000 homes and taken at least eight lives. In the television video of people wading through waist deep water appearing in the same moment to be both grateful to be alive and stunned by the devastation surrounding them, I’m reminded of scenes from a film I saw last night about the effects of climate change around the world, including victims from Hurricane Sandy. And yet here it is again, playing out like some slow motion disaster movie. Once again, it appears the homes destroyed were primarily those inhabited by the less fortunate, perhaps in structures built long ago or lacking adequate maintenance.

Even as I’m flying home to San Francisco from a week in New York, watching CNN, the coverage of election news and Texas flooding has been bumped, due to the sudden death of Prince. Of course “breaking news” always “trumps” everything else, and perhaps as it should be. But already into hour four of Prince coverage and the human toll in Texas has been sidelined. And tomorrow is Earth Day. Yet if past years are any indication there will be little, if token, coverage on this one day of the year when Americans are supposed to pay attention to our environment, at least in theory.

Being among the climate obsessed, the plight of our imperiled planet is never far from my mind. In fact I saw two excellent shows on the topic of global warming, now called by most, more accurately, climate change, this past week.

First the Rap Guide to Climate Chaos with the brilliant BaBa Brinkman. The fast talking rapper was on stage for 90 rousing, riffing minutes on the biggest existential challenge of our time. Like Al Gore ten years prior, Brinkman uses slides showing devastation and scary scientific graphs to back up his words with urgency and frightening poignancy.

But Brinkman, who happens to be Canadian, does not leave his audience depressed, at least not anymore so then what’s appropriate. He devotes at least the last third of his emotional roller coaster of a show to the solutions side, the what can we do about it part, though he even has some fun poking fun at himself jetting around the world to perform his one man show about what our gasses are doing to the climate.

And I myself am on a spanking new Virgin Airways jet spewing emissions as people movers always do, so we’re all clearly part of this system whether we like it or not.

Never mind that I was in New York pitching a few news networks, including CNN, on the concept of a dedicated program focused on our environmental challenges and solutions, with a heavy focus on the urgent climate crisis. Maybe a little “guilt offset” if not a carbon offset for my cross-country travels.

But back to Brinkman, who devoted 15 minutes to audience Q and A with an expert called onstage to answer inquiries, on that evening it was a science professor from nearby Columbia University. If you’re in the NYC area this Earth Day weekend I urge you to see it!

Then last night, exactly ten years after attending a screening of An Inconvenient Truth with Al Gore doing Q and A after that pivotal film, I watched an equally well- done movie about the impacts of climate change, this time with Josh Fox. The director of Gasland and Gasland 2, which famously depicted water catching fire as it came out of faucet in fracking country, where Josh grew up. He, along with actor “fractivist” Mark Ruffalo, have helped put the controversial gas extraction process on the map.

After the screening Fox, flanked by his production team on stage, took questions from the audience. In his responses he explained that the Gasland films inevitably pointed to the need to take on the larger climate crisis and so his intrepid crew and camera set out on a voyage to “hot spots” around the world.

He doesn’t just share the devastation; from strip mining to oil spills in the Amazon rainforest, to gas mask wearing children in smog choked Beijing whose residents monitor daily pollution levels and plan their daily activity around it, like we check the weather.

In fact there’s a parallel theme reflected in the film’s title – How To Let Go of the World and Love What Climate Can’t Change – of how a warming world is also a potential unifying force, a common enemy community builder unlike any other. He takes us to villages where there is no electricity and shows what the introduction of solar lamps can do for students who can further their education by being able to study in evening hours. He takes us to Zambia where villagers have neither running water nor electricity. And to the sinking island of Vanuatu whose inhabitants feel “rich” because the 100,000-plus acres they live on provides everything they need to stay alive. But they also show how the natives need each other to survive and how — whether step dancing in unison or sharing tribal stories with wisdom passed down through generations – they have a deep sense of place, tradition and belonging, coincidentally the same qualities lacking in many modern cultures, like ours, where–despite all of our stuff– many Americans feel empty, alienated and lacking purpose.

To his credit Fox does not glorify a more austere past or more primitive cultures, but rather juxtaposes the atmospheric fallout from “developed nations” with the cultures who have “developed their spiritual sides,” but still often the very same people most adversely affected by destructive storms and rising seas.

The movie uses music as a thread throughout, opening with Fox dancing in his living room over a fracking victory and concluding with a gorgeous original song with poignant visuals of two young girls doing ballet on the beach where their Long Island community was devastated by Hurricane Sandy in 2012. The girls, who became close friends after their families met by helping each other in the chaotic aftermath of the killer storm, were present at the screening, adding an extra note of poignancy.

In the beginning of the film climate activist and author Bill McKibben is among the experts interviewed by Fox. They are having a conversation in a Capitol Hill food court with more lights blazing than a Vegas casino. Before finishing they’re asked to leave by a security guard who declares the eating area closed (so why are there enough lights burning overhead to heat the room?) McKibben looks into the camera and dramatically utters words I’ve heard him say before but bare repeating; “we are living on a changed planet,” an Earth so different that McKibben named his 2010 book Eaarth, deliberately misspelled to reflect a new home with an unknown future.

An hour into my flight we learned, via sky TV and CNN, that Prince had died suddenly this morning. When we landed in San Francisco the coverage was still wall to wall Prince and likely will be tonight and throughout much of tomorrow, Earth Day. No slight against Prince, who clearly was a gifted musical genius, and it’s always shocking when someone dies “young,” but in the end how many people does that development, sad as it may be, truly impact? Five hours into the non-stop coverage Prince is still dead and more than 1,000 lives have been forever changed in Houston. And the rain continues to fall in Texas (but no it’s not Purple).

And the planet formerly known as Earth continues to die a little more each day whether or not CNN– and the other big news outlets– cover it, connect the dots, or even consider offering dedicated coverage on what we’re going to do about this crisis.

So I ask where I began this essay, isn’t it time that we begin to get off our gasses?

Or at least start a national conversation on a major news network about how we’re going to do that? There will always be “breaking news” that bumps a breaking climate we need dedicated programming, “appointment TV” as they call it in the biz, where you can tune in at a certain time, preferably daily, and get all your questions and concerns about our planetary pickle(s) addressed by experts in their field who are not only knowledgeable, but passionate and gifted communicators.

And if you don’t have any questions or concerns about our changing environment, how it’s affecting humans, animals and nature–and what we can do about it–then you haven’t been paying attention. And if, as a society, we continue to focus on the sensational rather than the scientific, well then perhaps we deserve what’s coming. Because we have a choice and the television news networks have a choice. To be responsible adults and face our challenges or turn away and “face the music.”

Of course we will miss Prince’s unique brand of music, and activism, but his legacy will live on with his songs and wide influence. Friday is Earth Day and we should spend at least a few minutes pondering the ecological legacy we are leaving our children. And consider letting your favorite TV networks know you’d like them to include news about our breaking planet in the daily mix, including ideas for a fix.


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