It’s understandable that America’s major media are transfixed by the ricocheting constitutional crises set off by Donald Trump’s impetuous presidency. But they’re failing their country by not reporting on the one area where his policy agenda is actually moving forward, Emily Atkin argues in New Republic.
While the reaction to Trump’s effort to short-circuit an FBI investigation of his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia has largely paralyzed progress on initiatives like tax reform and a replacement for the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, the Republican’s effort to roll back generations of environmental progress has made rapid, largely unopposed progress.
“By sheer number of actions,” Atkins writes, “Trump has done more on the environment than in any other area since becoming president. He’s signed at least eight anti-environmental executive actions, and ordered delays and reviews of anti-pollution rules. He’s appointed climate-change deniers to cabinet positions, and scrubbed scientifically accurate information about climate change from EPA websites.”
Against the advice of scores of industry groups, his own Secretary of State, and the majority of Americans, Trump is also considering leaving the Paris climate agreement. Before the Comey/Russia affair consumed all the media’s attention last week, Atkin recalls, Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency fired “nine government scientists from the 18-member board that oversees the [EPA’s] scientific research. The EPA reportedly plans to replace some of those board members with representatives from the polluting industries the agency is supposed to regulate.”
That record of success in pursuing the administration’s vendetta on climate and natural security while its other initiatives falter “makes it all the more bewildering that reporters with access to the president have failed to press him on the subject.” Atkin writes. She examines 16 major media interviews with Trump in which climate and the environment barely rate a mention.
The questions reporters are failing to ask, she says, would put Trump on the spot on issues like his reasons for entertaining withdrawal from Paris, or his insistence that coal can be resurrected as a fuel when even its own producers suggest otherwise. “If there were ever a time for journalists to force Trump to defend his assault on the environment,” Atkin writes, “it’s now.”