Nets Freak Out Over EPA Chief Questioning Climate Change Dogma

On Friday, correspondents on the network morning shows were beside themselves as they breathlessly reported on Environmental Protection Agency administrator Scott Pruitt voicing skepticism of the liberal dogma about man-made global warming. The hostile coverage even included a call on Pruitt to resign over the comments.

CBS This Morning co-host Gayle King introduced a report on the controversy by fretting: “President Trump’s EPA administrator, who sued the agency repeatedly in his former job, has touched off a fierce new argument over climate change. In an interview yesterday, Scott Pruitt questioned the role that humans play in global warming.”

Correspondent Chip Reid followed:

In 2013, an intergovernmental panel of 2,000 scientists said it was, quote, “extremely likely that humans are the dominant cause of global warming.” That same sentiment is expressed on the EPA’s own website. But the new leader of that agency doesn't seem to agree....EPA administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday questioned the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.

The reporter warned: “This is not the first time the man tasked with protecting the environment has questioned global warming. In an op/ed last year, Pruitt said the debate over climate change ‘is far from settled,’ claiming scientists are still questioning ‘its connection to the actions of mankind.’”

Building on King and Reid’s hyperventilating, a soundbite ran of Sierra Club director Michael Brune ranting: “He should not be serving as head of the EPA and he should resign immediately.” Reid touted how Brune “says the new comments show Pruitt is not fit for the job.”

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When Pruitt was announced as President Trump’s pick for the EPA in December, the CBS morning show ran to the same left-wing environmentalist group for reaction. Correspondent Major Garrett noted: “The Sierra Club said, ‘Having Pruitt in charge of the EPA is like putting an arsonist in charge of fighting fires.’”

On Friday’s NBC Today, correspondent Hallie Jackson claimed Pruitt was “raising eyebrows...for this answer on whether carbon dioxide is the key driver behind climate change.” After a clip played of Pruitt saying “we don’t know yet” whether man-made carbon dioxide emissions are a “primary contributor” to climate change, Jackson lectured: “That directly contradicts accepted science on climate change, including from inside Pruitt's own agency.”

She then seized on partisan critics bashing the Trump cabinet official: “With new backlash now from Bernie Sanders, slamming those comments as pathetic.” A soundbite ran of Sanders proclaiming: “Not only is it sad, it is a real threat to the well-being of this country and the world.”

After Pruitt was nominated to his post in December, the Today show opened with co-host Matt Lauer fearing: “Environmental disaster? Controversy sparked by President-elect Trump's pick to run the EPA....And his position on climate change putting a dark cloud over his nomination.”

On ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos declared that Pruitt was “drawing some real fire for taking on the scientific consensus about climate change.” The former Democratic operative turned to White House correspondent Jon Karl and fretted: “That's at odds with the official position of the EPA. So what impact is it going have on the work of that agency?”

Karl marginalized Pruitt’s position: “Well, it's at odds with the official position of the EPA, but also the vast majority of the people who work at the EPA. It puts him basically as an outlier in the agency he heads.”

None of Friday’s coverage bothered to mention any of the controversial actions taken by the agency during the Obama administration, including the staggering implementation of nearly 4,000 new environmental regulations.

Here is a full transcript of the March 10 report on CBS This Morning:

7:07 AM ET

GAYLE KING: President Trump’s EPA administrator, who sued the agency repeatedly in his former job, has touched off a fierce new argument over climate change. In an interview yesterday, Scott Pruitt questioned the role that humans play in global warming. Now that statement contradicts his testimony to Congress. NASA confirmed in January that 2016 was the warmest year on record. It was the third record-setting year in a row, driven largely by increased carbon dioxide and other human-made emissions. Chip Reid is outside EPA headquarters in Washington. Chip, good morning.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning. In 2013, an intergovernmental panel of 2,000 scientists said it was, quote, “extremely likely that humans are the dominant cause of global warming.” That same sentiment is expressed on the EPA’s own website. But the new leader of that agency doesn't seem to agree.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Climate Contradiction? EPA Director Downplays CO2 Role in Global Warming]

SCOTT PRUITT: I think that measuring with precision human activity on the climate is something very challenging to do and there's tremendous disagreement about the degree of impact.

REID: EPA administrator Scott Pruitt yesterday questioned the impact of carbon dioxide emissions on the environment.

PRUITT: No, I would not agree that it's a primary contributor to the global warming that we see.

REID: This is not the first time the man tasked with protecting the environment has questioned global warming. In an op/ed last year, Pruitt said the debate over climate change “is far from settled,” claiming scientists are still questioning “its connection to the actions of mankind.”

PRUITT: I do not believe climate change is a hoax.

REID: During his confirmation hearing in January, Pruitt reassured lawmakers that he recognizes the human impact on the environment.

PRUITT: Let me say to you, science tells us that the climate changing and that human activity in some manner impacts that change.

REID: At that time, the administrator gave the impression he disagreed with President Trump, who has called global warming a hoax.

DONALD TRUMP: So Obama’s talking about all of this with the global warming. A lot of it's a hoax. It’s a hoax.

MICHAEL BRUNE: He should not be serving as head of the EPA and he should resign immediately.

REID: Michael Brune, director of the environmental group Sierre Club, says the new comments show Pruitt is not fit for the job.  

BRUNE: Scott Pruitt and the EPA are required by law to fight climate change and to regulate carbon dioxide as a way of doing so.

REID: President Obama has not – excuse me – President Trump has not made the environment a major issue so far, but he campaigned on a promise to roll back some Obama administration regulations that limit the amount of CO2 that can be admitted from cars and power plants. Gayle?

KING: Thank you very much, Chip.

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