CBS’s LaPook Helps Obama Advance Narrative Climate Change Is Harmful to Personal Health

Wednesday’s edition of the CBS Evening News chose to re-air portions of chief medical correspondent Dr. Jon LaPook’s interview with President Obama on climate change supposedly threatening public health and included LaPook fretting at the end to anchor Scott Pelley that “climate change legislation has stalled in Congress.”

The network’s cheerleading of Obama’s newest environmental initiative began right at the top of the newscast as Pelley teased the segment to viewers: “The President speaks with us about how climate change is making people sick.”

Following another tease before a commercial break, the segment started with Pelley again touting Obama’s claim that “climate change poses a serious threat to health.” 

From there, LaPook led into his interview with the President by touting how “research suggests heat waves can increase ground-level ozone and help set off an attack of asthma” as the number of Americans with asthma has grown since 1980.

In the first portion of the interview shown, LaPook lamented to an approving President that “studies suggest most Americans don’t connect global warming or climate change with their own personal health.” 

As for his first actual question (which was also shown on CBS This Morning), LaPook invoked the First Daughters: “You have two daughters who are teenagers. Are you thinking long term because of them? Are you – is that somehow part of the equation?”

Once Obama brought up the fact that his younger daughter Malia has asthma, LaPook expanded on that and circled back to global warming: “Did that bring it home for you with Malia, this is affecting my daughter? I have to do something about it.”

LaPook reappeared in studio with Pelley after Obama’s last answer and complained about the current prospects of global warming legislation and how that could change:

One reason for the new initiative may be that climate change legislation has stalled in Congress. The President told me political will typically does not come from the top-down. It comes from parents and communities who say, “let's go ahead and do something about this.”

In addition to LaPook’s interview, ABC’s Dr. Richard Besser and NBC’s Dr. Natalie Azar also conducted similar sit-downs on the same topic with Obama. However, neither one of their interviews were shown on their network evening newscasts.

The relevant portions of the transcript from the CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley on April 8 can be found below.

CBS Evening News with Scott Pelley
April 8, 2015
6:30 p.m. Eastern [TEASE]

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Climate Change]

SCOTT PELLEY: The President speaks with us about how climate change is making people sick.

(....)

6:47 p.m. Eastern

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE CAPTION: Health Hazard]

PELLEY: President Obama says that climate change poses a serious threat to health. He spoke with our Dr. Jon LaPook who joins us right now. Jon. 

DR. JON LAPOOK: Scott, research suggests heat waves can increase ground-level ozone and help set off an attack of asthma. In 1980, just 3 percent of the U.S. population had asthma. By 2010, that number was over 8 percent, or 26 million people. The President is pushing to educate people that climate change can affect them personally. [TO OBAMA] Mr. President, studies suggest most Americans don’t connect global warming or climate change with their own personal health. 

PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA: Right. 

LAPOOK: Why do you think that is?

(....)

LAPOOK: You have two daughters who are teenagers. Are you thinking long term because of them? Are you – is that somehow part of the equation? 

OBAMA: Well, you know, Malia, early on, when she was young had asthma, and we had to visit the emergency room once. So I’m a dad, like everybody else. I’ve seen how scary it is when your kid comes to you, your four-year-old, and says, “I'm having trouble breathing.”

LAPOOK: Did that bring it home for you with Malia, this is affecting my daughter? I have to do something about it. 

OBAMA: You know, there's no doubt about it. In the same way I think there are families right now in south Florida who see two feet of water coming into their house every time it rains and start thinking, you know what? Rising temperatures and rising ocean levels are going to affect my property. Part of what I’m trying to communicate here is that there is a cost to inaction. 

LAPOOK: One reason for the new initiative may be that climate change legislation has stalled in Congress. The President told me political will typically does not come from the top-down. It comes from parents and communities who say, “let's go ahead and do something about this.”

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