On Sunday's NBC Meet the Press, supposed moderator David Gregory teamed up with global warming activist Bill Nye to condemn skepticism on the issue voiced by Republican Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn. [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
When Blackburn dared to point out that "there is not consensus" on manmade global warming – citing two dissenting climate scientists – Gregory quickly jumped in to stop her blasphemy: "Well, hold on. I just have to interrupt you. I'm sorry, Congresswoman. Let me just interrupt you because it's not – you can pick out particular skeptics, but you can't really say, can you, that the hundreds of scientists around the world who have looked at this have gotten together and conspired to manipulate data."
Apparently Gregory forgot about the notorious climategate scandal of 2009 that revealed scientists doing exactly that.
Following Gregory's interruption, Blackburn continued: "David, what we have to look at is the fact that you don't make good laws, sustainable laws when you're making them on hypotheses or theories or unproven sciences."
Rather than use that statement to challenge Nye, Gregory simply allowed the former television host to rant against Blackburn: "Once again, the Congresswoman is trying to introduce doubt, and doubt in the whole idea of climate change. So what I would encourage everybody to do is back up and let's agree on the facts. Would you say that the Antarctic has less ice than it used to?" Nye held up a picture of Antarctica to bolster his point.
Nye lectured: "There is no debate in the scientific community. And I can encourage the Congresswoman to really look at the facts. You are a leader. We need you to change things, not deny what's happening."
Gregory went after Blackburn moments later and demanded government action: "The reality is that something is happening....you have state and local governments, Congresswoman, who have to deal with the realities of climate change, and it's expensive....how does government responsibly – even where there may be differences on the policy and the cure – respond to the very real-time impacts of weather and a changing climate?"
Near the end of the segment, Nye again scolded skeptics: "...the more we mess around with this denial, the less we're going to get done."
Gregory had teed up the debate by placing his thumb on scale with this slanted report:
GREGORY: Is the growing cost of our recent weather disasters creating a new focus on the need for action on climate change?
GREGORY: This week's storm left half a million Georgians without power at its peak, buried cities in snow and ice, stranded flyers and practically shuttered the nation's capital. Extreme cold has frozen Lake Superior to levels not seen in decades and led to a boom in tourism in ice caves off the water. And in California, prolonged drought gripping 90 percent of the state has parched crops and dried up food supplies for livestock.
AL ROKER: Is it a natural cycle? Is it – is it due to human interference or human conditions that we have created? That remains open to debate. But there is no doubt the climate is changing.
GREGORY: President Obama toured a Fresno farm Friday to tout federal support to address California’s water crisis. In his state of the union speech, he was adamant.
BARACK OBAMA: The debate is settled. Climate change is a fact.
GREGORY: The extreme weather is not limited to the United States. Massive flooding has left large parts of England under water over the past two months. The chief scientist of UK's National Weather Service said all the evidence suggests climate change is to blame. Skeptics say the forecasts of doom and gloom are overblown.
PATRICK MICHAELS [DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR THE STUDY OF SCIENCE, CATO INSTITUTE]: After you adjust for the fact that there are so many more people living in so many more places, there's no change in weather-related damages.
In his first question to Nye and Blackburn, Gregory wondered: "...in this moment of – this kind of extreme weather moment – is it creating new urgency to act?"
After Blackburn first questioned global warming consensus in her response to that question, Gregory teed up Nye to dismiss her: "...within the scientific community, there is consensus, Bill Nye, and you know, among the scientists themselves..."
Nye asserted: "...what people are doing is introducing the idea that scientific uncertainty, in this case about cold weather events in what we call back east, are – is the same as uncertainty about the whole idea of climate change. And this is unscientific. It's not logical. It is a way apparently that the fossil fuel industry has dealt with our politics."
Back in January, a group of Senate Democrats announced that one of the goals of their newly formed "task force on climate change" would be to "push Sunday news programs on global warming coverage."
Only weeks later, Meet the Press dutifully followed those orders.