Media Downplays Historic Keystone Pipeline ProtestsRandy Shawbyline‚ Feb. 20‚ 2013
When 35,000-50,000 people turned out on February 17 for the largest climate change protest in United States history, the event should have gained ample coverage in the New York Times and other national media. But it did not. Instead, the event was relegated to the Business section of the Times, and Keystone was framed not as a landmark outpouring of opposition but as a political problem for President Obama. Joining in downplaying the protests were the leading Sunday talk shows---NBC’s Meet the Press, CBS’s Face the Nation, and ABC’s This Week ---all of which ignored Keystone and climate change; they preferred allowing John McCain and other Republicans to vent about Benghazi. This disdain for activists working to combat climate change is illuminating. It reflects the powerful corporate interests opposed to such efforts, and the media’s framing Hurricane Sandy and other destructive weather as requiring powerful action from politicians, not activists.