During Friday’s 1:00 p.m. ET hour, MSNBC anchors Stephanie Ruhle and Ali Velshi were aghast at Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler dismissing climate change fearmongering in a recent interview with CBS News. The hosts denounced his comments and even brought on former Obama administration EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy to blast him.
“The Trump administration has managed to downplay the impact of climate change again. Andrew Wheeler, the new EPA administrator, insisted the effects of manmade global warming are not here yet,” Ruhle complained as she teed up a clip of Wheeler talking to CBS correspondent Major Garrett in an interview aired Wednesday:
MAJOR GARRETT: When you hear Democrats running for nomination in 2020 say we’re in a catastrophic situation, is there anything unreasonable about those impressions or that rhetoric?
ANDREW WHEELER: Yes, I think it is unreasonable. On the climate change, it is an important issue that we have to be addressing, and we are addressing it, but most of the threats from climate change are 50 to 75 years out.
Following the soundbite, Ruhle ranted: “Well, for facts sake, climate change is here, happening right now. Like the historic record-breaking flooding that ripped through the Midwest. You know when what happened? This week.”
Moments later, co-host Ali Velshi bemoaned: “It’s sort of beyond frustrating that an EPA administrator would say that a matter 50 to 75 years out is not important.” McCarthy then joined the program and commiserated with the journalists:
Wow. Ali and Stephanie, thanks for having me on. The first thing I’m gonna say is I was absolutely dumbfounded by his remark. Now I know this administration tends to be, you know, unencumbered by fact and play fast and loose with science and the law, but this is the EPA administrator.
Now first they tried to deny climate science and deny that climate change was happening. And now that they know people care about this issue – it is part and parcel of the next 2020 campaign, people want action on this. So now they act like Mr. Magoo, where they’re blind and all of these things are happening around them that threaten our lives, that threaten our public health, that are destroying communities, destroying farmland, that are killing and impacting millions of people across the world, and they don’t see it? They don’t see it happening now?
An hour later, MSNBC anchor Katy Tur similarly touted Garrett’s interview with Wheeler, before teeing up her liberal guest, Penn State University Atmospheric Professor Michael Mann, to hammer the cabinet official. Mann launched into a diatribe:
Well, I am socked, shocked that a member of the Trump administration is downplaying the impact of climate change. No, I’m not. This is the sort of, you know, the typical sort of behavior that we’ve seen from the Trump administration from officials downplaying of the impact that climate change is having now because they’ve got a very cozy relationship with fossil fuel interests who fund politicians who deny the reality of climate change.
Look, he must have his eyes closed, because anybody with their eyes open is aware of the fact that we have seen unprecedented extreme weather events, disastrous weather events that now play out in real time on our television screens and in our newspaper headlines. You literally have to be blind and deaf to not be aware of the damaging impact that climate change is already having now and how much worse it can get if we don’t do something about it.
Tur assured him: “We have our eyes open here.”
In a report for Wednesday’s CBS This Morning about his sit-down with Wheeler, Garrett noted that “Republicans support his deregulatory agenda at the EPA and the economic benefits they say it brings,” but warned: “Democrats and environmentalist say whatever the economic benefits, new environmental risks will be posed by that deregulatory agenda, and they accuse Wheeler of refusing to take action on climate change.”
After he pressed Wheeler on the topic in the exchange that followed, co-host Bianna Golodryga concluded the segment by declaring: “Major, there’s no doubt this is going to be a big campaign issue for Democrats. Thank you.”
When the Trump administration does not toe the line on the liberal climate change agenda, the media are quick to respond with Democratic Party talking points.
Here are portions of Garrett’s interview with Wheeler, aired on March 20:
7:13 AM ET
NORAH O’DONNELL: The head of the Environmental Protection Agency is expected to announce today that he believes water safety is a bigger environmental crisis than climate change. Only on CBS News, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler spoke with Major Garrett in his first interview since being confirmed. Major, good morning.
MAJOR GARRETT: Good morning. The Senate confirmed Wheeler last month. Not a single Democrat supported him. In general, Republicans support his deregulatory agenda at the EPA and the economic benefits they say it brings. Democrats and environmentalist say whatever the economic benefits, new environmental risks will be posed by that deregulatory agenda, and they accuse Wheeler of refusing to take action on climate change.
ANDREW WHEELER: The drinking water today worldwide is probably the biggest environmental threat we have.
GARRETT: If I hear you correctly, you’re saying all of this tension, energy, politics over on climate change is essentially misguided?
GARRETT: Wheeler supports President Trump’s 30% budget cut to the EPA and his downplaying of the climate change threat is sure to anger Democrats.
BERNIE SANDERS: Climate change is not a hoax but is a massive, unprecedented threat.
GARRETT: When you hear Democrats running for nomination in 2020 say we’re in a catastrophic situation, is there anything unreasonable about those impressions?
WHEELER” Yes, I think it is unreasonable. All the environmental indicators continue to get better.
BIANNA GOLODRYGA: Major, there’s no doubt this is going to be a big campaign issue for Democrats. Thank you.