Many climate advocacy organizations are displeased, however, that the Democratic National Committee has not agreed to host a climate-focused candidate debate.
Organizations that advocate for the health of the climate and the urgency of global warming are praising CNN after the network announced that its climate-focused town halls next week will run for seven hours.
On Sept. 4, the network will broadcast 10 back-to-back town halls with Democratic presidential candidates focused on climate change, running from 5 p.m. ET to midnight. Network anchors and hosts Wolf Blitzer, Anderson Cooper, Don Lemon, Chris Cuomo, Erin Burnett will do the questioning.
“Tackling the climate crisis is one of the top polling issues among voters this election, which is why it is important that CNN is doing the right thing and devoting so much time to a conversation that the public wants to hear,” said Adam Beitman, a spokesman for the Sierra Club. “The network deserves kudos. We’re hopeful that this is just the start of CNN and other TV news outlets devoting much more airtime to the climate crisis, which threatens the health and safety of communities across the country.”
“We’re glad that CNN is devoting this town hall to the climate crisis,” said Denis Dison, a spokesman for the Natural Resources Defense Council Action Fund. “After four years of climate denial from the White House, the next U.S. president will have to take bold action to put America at the forefront of a clean energy economy, so the least we can expect is for the political media to press the candidates for realistic plans about how they intend to do that.”
“Devoting hours of air time to the climate crisis is a good step that we hope spurs other networks, news outlets and organizations to follow suit,” said Laura Daniel Davis of the National Wildlife Federation.
Many climate advocacy organizations are displeased, however, that the Democratic National Committee has not agreed to host a climate-focused candidate debate. “CNN has stepped up where [chairman] Tom Perez and the DNC deliberately dropped the ball,” said CREDO Action campaign manager Jelani Drew-Davi. “Seven hours of content focused on the climate crisis is huge for over half a million grassroots activists who pushed the DNC for an official climate debate.”
But, added Drew-Davi, “town halls and summits simply don’t get the same viewership that an official DNC debate does.”
A spokesman for Greenpeace USA also framed the town halls in the context of a potential climate debate. “The format of CNN’s town hall shows exactly why a DNC-sanctioned climate debate would have been ideal: to have the candidates all on stage at the same time discussing how they would combat the climate crisis,” said Ryan Schleeter. “The seven-hour format makes it incredibly difficult for viewers to compare the candidates’ policies and make an informed choice as to who is best positioned to act in the interest of people and the planet.”
CNN, which did not respond to a request for an interview about the town halls, is not the only game in town, however. The network’s left-leaning competitor, MSNBC, is partnering on a two-day climate change forum at Georgetown University on Sept. 18-19. MSNBC hosts Chris Hayes and Ali Velshi will moderate the forum and interview 2020 candidates about how they would address the crisis.