NBC Touts JFK Granddaughter’s Climate Activism, Calls Her a ‘Journalist’

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On Tuesday, the hosts of NBC’s Today show fawned over New York Times writer Tatiana Schlossberg, granddaughter of President Kennedy, authoring “a new book that explores the role we all play in climate change.” While the headline on screen throughout the segment labeled Schlossberg an “activist,” the climate crusader was repeatedly referred to as a “journalist” throughout the softball exchange.

“Now to the Kennedy family and their long history of public service,” fill-in co-host Kristen Welker announced in the 8:00 a.m. ET hour. Fellow substitute co-host Peter Alexander added: “In a moment, we’re going to talk to JFK’s granddaughter, Tatiana Schlossberg. She has authored a new book that explores the role we all play in climate change.”

 

 

Narrating a brief report on Schlossberg prior to the interview, Alexander gushed:

Now 29, Tatiana is making her own mark, following in the footsteps of her cousin Bobby Kennedy Jr., a longtime environmental activist and attorney. She’s the author of a brand-new book, Inconspicuous Consumption, a call to action in the fight against climate change. The journalist has been covering the environment since graduating from Yale University and then Oxford, most recently as a science writer at The New York Times.

Despite him using the “journalist” label, the chyron declared: “The New Kennedy Activist; JFK Granddaughter Tatiana Schlossberg Talks Environmental Impact.”

The interview began with Alexander wondering: “Your family has been involved as public servants and members of this community and making a difference for so long. Did you feel sort of a responsibility to have a cause and is the environment that cause for you?”

Schlossberg seemed to reject the idea that she was fighting for a “cause,” remarking: “Well, I’m a journalist, and so, you know, I – like you guys....I feel very proud to be, you know, serving in that way and I’m very proud to be a member of the press.” Alexander chimed in: “We’re happy to have you.”

Welker followed up: “But we know that the environment has been a big focus for your family, your cousin Bobby Kennedy Jr., for example, has been very focused on it. To what extent did that influence your interest as a journalist and to work on this project?” Schlossberg continued to refer to herself as a journalist while using the language of an activist:

Well, I think climate change is, you know, the biggest story in the world and it’s a story about everything. It’s about, you know, science and nature, but it’s also about politics and health and business. And so, you know, to me, looking at this as a journalist, it felt like a really important story to tell. And if I could, you know, help communicate about it, that that might inspire other people to get involved and work on the issue.

Rather than challenge their guest on how she could objectively report on a topic while being so clearly committed to a particular political agenda, the hosts instead helped hawk Schlossberg’s book. Alexander declared: “So this can be a heavy topic for a lot of people and you pack a lot of information into this book, but it’s also pretty relatable the way you write it here. So we’re going to try to help people understand some of the lessons that they can take away from this.”

Schlossberg proceeded to warn viewers about the environmental dangers of buying flowers, eating red meat, and using air travel.

As Alexander and Welker asked for tips on how people could avoid such supposedly risky behavior, Schlossberg repeatedly called for political action:

I mean, it can be by things like voting and by holding companies accountable and talking about climate change, you know, with our friends and family....what the book is really trying to do is talk about how this is really a collective issue....that kind of call to action about voting and about being engaged with the issue and that that’s the most powerful way to make a difference.

Welker couldn’t resist pressing Schlossberg on whether she would consider running for office some day: “Any interest in dipping your toe into politics? You obviously talk about a lot of issues in this book.” Schlossberg replied: “I’m a writer, and so, you know, hopefully I can get people interested in this issue and engaged that way. So I’m – I will stick to journalism.”

Alexander thanked her for being on the program and remarked: “Always glad to have another member of the journalism community, nice to meet you in person.” He then encouraged viewers to go to Today.com to buy a copy of Schlossberg’s climate activist book.

It was not the first time the Today show tried to promote one of the children of Caroline Kennedy. In 2017, Taitiana’s brother Jack appeared on the broadcast with this mother and was urged to enter politics.

Here is a full transcript of the August 27 interview with Tatiana Schlossberg:

8:18 AM ET

KRISTEN WELKER: Now to the Kennedy family and their long history of public service.

PETER ALEXANDER: In a moment, we’re going to talk to JFK’s granddaughter, Tatiana Schlossberg. She has authored a new book that explores the role we all play in climate change. But first, a closer look at Tatiana’s story.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: The New Kennedy Activist; JFK Granddaughter Tatiana Schlossberg Talks Environmental Impact]

Tatiana Schlossberg’s name may not be known by many, but her family’s legacy is a part of U.S. History. The granddaughter of President John F. Kennedy and daughter of former U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy Schlossberg and designer Ed Schlossberg, Tatiana grew up primarily out of the public eye, along with her older sister Rose and younger brother Jack. Last month, the family marked the 20th anniversary of her uncle John F. Kennedy Jr.’s death.

Now 29, Tatiana is making her own mark, following in the footsteps of her cousin Bobby Kennedy Jr., a longtime environmental activist and attorney. She’s the author of a brand-new book, Inconspicuous Consumption, a call to action in the fight against climate change. The journalist has been covering the environment since graduating from Yale University and then Oxford, most recently as a science writer at The New York Times.

As for her personal life, Tatiana is set to celebrate her second anniversary with college sweetheart George Moran next month. The couple wed in Martha’s Vineyard in 2017, a Kennedy family affair in the backyard of her grandmother Jackie Kennedy’s beloved summer home.

Tatiana Schlossberg is with us now. Again, her new book is called Inconspicuous Consumption. Tatiana, good morning.

TATIANA SCHLOSSBERG: Good morning, thank you for having me.

ALEXANDER: We’re so glad you’re here.

WELKER: Thanks for being here.

ALEXANDER: Your grandfather, of course, President John F. Kennedy, had a lifetime of service. Your family has been involved as public servants and members of this community and making a difference for so long. Did you feel sort of a responsibility to have a cause and is the environment that cause for you?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I’m a journalist, and so, you know, I – like you guys, and you know, I’m very proud of my family’s political legacy, but I’m also very proud to come from a family of writers, because my grandfather was an amazing speechwriter, but also wrote books, and my grandmother was an editor, and both of my parents are writers as well. So I feel very proud to be, you know, serving in that way and I’m very proud to be a member of the press, so –

ALEXANDER: We’re happy to have you.

WELKER: Yeah. But we know that the environment has been a big focus for your family, your cousin Bobby Kennedy Jr., for example, has been very focused on it. To what extent did that influence your interest as a journalist and to work on this project?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think climate change is, you know, the biggest story in the world and it’s a story about everything. It’s about, you know, science and nature, but it’s also about politics and health and business. And so, you know, to me, looking at this as a journalist, it felt like a really important story to tell. And if I could, you know, help communicate about it, that that might inspire other people to get involved and work on the issue.

ALEXANDER: So this can be a heavy topic for a lot of people and you pack a lot of information into this book, but it’s also pretty relatable the way you write it here. So we’re going to try to help people understand some of the lessons that they can take away from this. Some of them relate to things you do in your day-to-day life, like the purchasing of flowers, roses in particular you talk about here. Not that you shouldn’t give flowers to others, but you should know where they come from. Why is that so important?

SCHLOSSBERG: Right. So I think, you know, roses or a lot of flowers in America come to us from Colombia, and we import about 4 billion flowers a year from Colombia, and you know, most of them are flown here on an airplane, so it uses a tremendous amount of fuel to get them here and results in the emissions of carbon dioxide and other pollutants. And so, you know, when I wrote about that, I wanted to, you know, use that as an example of how much global trade is now happening on airplanes, and you know, it’s very easy for all of us to maybe go to the corner store or Walmart and buy roses for Valentine’s Day, but we don’t necessarily think about, you know, what it took to bring them to us and, you know, how all of these different global systems and consumption and pollution are involved in just our everyday actions.

WELKER: You’re not saying don’t buy roses.

SCHLOSSBERG: No.

WELKER: You’re just saying be thoughtful about it, right?

SCHLOSSBERG: Yeah, right.

WELKER: Of where they come from.

SCHLOSSBERG: Yeah.

WELKER: You also talk about beef. You say you eat a lot less red meat. We should say we reached out to the National Cattleman’s Beef Association for comment. They make the case that, look, U.S.-raised beef should be considered separate because of sustainable steps that they say the industry has taken to lower greenhouse gas emissions. How do you respond to that and what is the key message here as it relates to beef?

SCHLOSSBERG: So, I think, you know, there’s the emissions that are associated with raising livestock, but what I wrote about in my book was about how, you know, there’s a lot that goes into producing, you know, beef and other livestock that we – that we may not think about. So we, you know, in the U.S., about two thirds of crop calories are spent not feeding people, they’re spent feeding animals. And so, that uses a lot of energy, you know, to produce the fertilizer and harvest the crops and process them into feed. And so I think, you know, we have to think about these systems as bigger than just, you know, the beef. And so, you know, fertilizer can cause –  what I wrote about in the book was how, you know, it relates to, you know, rural drinking water pollution or the dead zone in the Gulf of Mexico. And so I think we have to think more. You know, it’s not just about greenhouse gas emissions. It’s sort of all of these environmental impacts and how they all fit together.

ALEXANDER: How have you changed some of your habits? What do you do differently that other people can try to replicate?

SCHLOSSBERG: Well, I think, you know, first of all, I think, you know, this is not a problem that can be solved by individual behavior. I mean, it can be by things like voting and by holding companies accountable and talking about climate change, you know, with our friends and family. But for me personally, I do eat less red meat but I love ice cream so I’m very conflicted. [Laughter] But I offset, you know, if I have to fly, I offset it. I don’t – I try not to order things online just because of, or if I do, then I don’t do two-day shipping. So you know, all of these things have trade offs and it’s not, it’s so hard to figure out what is the right thing to do.

WELKER: Has your family made changes, too? I mean, as you say, your family is a very service-minded family. Have they read your book and said, “You know what, we need to make some changes, too”?

SCHLOSSBERG: Yes, they have all read my book and they love it. [Laughter]

ALEXANDER: Thanks, mom.

SCHLOSSBERG: But I think, you know, they are – I think what the book is really trying to do is talk about how this is really a collective issue. And it’s not – you know, yes, there are things all of us can do, but it’s not about sort of feeling individually guilty. It’s about feeling collectively responsible. And I think they have really responded to that kind of call to action about voting and about being engaged with the issue and that that’s the most powerful way to make a difference.

ALEXANDER: We’d be remiss, while you’re here, there are so many Americans that are thinking about your family. Obviously your cousin Saoirse Kennedy Hill, who passed away this summer. Just want to get a sense how you and you’re family are doing.  

SCHLOSSBERG: Thank you, that’s so nice. It’s – you know, it was very sad, and she was a wonderful person. And you know, I think especially for her, for her close family, very, very difficult and really sad for all of us. Thank you.

WELKER: And you guys are so close, and your brother Jack is here supporting you.

SCHLOSSBERG: Yes.

WELKER: And of course when he was here, we had a chance to interview him a little while ago, we asked him about his future, what he saw.

ALEXANDER: We’re putting you on the spot.

WELKER: Same question to you.

SCHLOSSBERG: Oh, what a surprise.

WELKER: Any interest in dipping your toe into politics? You obviously talk about a lot of issues in this book.  

SCHLOSSBERG: Yeah, you know, I think it’s important for everyone to serve in the way that, you know, suits their strengths. And I’m a writer, and so, you know, hopefully I can get people interested in this issue and engaged that way. So I’m – I will stick to journalism.

WELKER: No future plans, alright.

SCHLOSSBERG: No.

WELKER: Tatiana, fantastic. Thank you so much for being here.

SCHLOSSBERG: Thank you. Thank you for having me.

ALEXANDER: Always glad to have another member of the journalism community, nice to meet you in person.

SCHLOSSBERG: Thank you so much.

ALEXANDER: Thank you so much. We want to tell you more about her book, it’s called Inconspicuous Consumption. If you’d like to see it or buy it, head to Today.com/shop.

NB Daily Environment Global Warming NBC Today New York Times Video Peter Alexander Kristen Welker

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