Timeline presentation done in Tiki-Toki
The environment, and more specifically the debate over climate change, has been a hot political topic for the past several years. The Obama Administration led the U.S. in an aggressive approach to combat climate change, culminating in the 2016 Paris Climate Accord, a multinational agreement among 195 countries to globally slash carbon emissions. For its part, the U.S. pledged to cut these pollutants by 25% from 2005 levels by 2025. This is a very reasonable rate, and major corporations had already begun investing in infrastructure to reduce their carbon footprint. However, with the election of Donald Trump, U.S. involvement in the Paris Climate Accord has been thrown into doubt due to Trump’s campaign promises to pull the U.S. out of what he called a “bad deal.” The impact of this proposed withdrawal has been the subject of much controversy, and media from the right and left sides of the political spectrum have been weighing in with their opinions as to whether the U.S. will withdraw, and the positive or negative consequences that may follow.
In an article published by The Washington Post, author Juliet Eilperin takes an in-depth look at the political positions of White House officials and concludes that the ideology has swayed in favor of remaining in the Paris Accord, with people including Ivanka Trump lobbying in favor of the agreement. The article is mainly factual, stating first the contractual obligations to which the U.S. agreed, and the likely repercussions that would be faced if the U.S. were to leave the accord. Consequences such as reduced political influence in world affairs and a setback in the increasingly valuable green energy market were listed as possible collateral. Political bias, however, did slip into the article, in the form of quotations from experts such as Paul Besdoe, a former White House climate advisor and staunch climate change believer who served under Bill Clinton. His statement issued a firm warning against leaving the Paris Accord, indicating a political stance on the subject.
Salon, another liberal-orientated media outlet came to a similar conclusion to that of The Washington Post, believing that Trump is unlikely to exit the Paris deal. Author Matthew Rosza believes that the influence of Trump’s daughter, Ivanka, and her husband, Jared Kushner, will be enough to drown out the voice of the Trump’s chief strategist, Steve Bannon. The article manages to remain politically neutral; however, similar to The Washington Post article, the Paris Accord is viewed in a positive light, and the writer seemed to have faith that Trump would be in favor of remaining in the Paris Accord. Of course, the decision still lies with Trump, not those advising him.
The difference between the CNN and two previous left-sided articles was noticeable in the title. Rather than having an encouraging headline, supporting the notion that Trump will uphold the Paris agreement, CNN’s article starts simply with “Trump administration delays climate change agreement decision.” This is a decidedly neutral, yet factual start, and the article itself continues in the same fashion. As with the two previous articles, all the information is presented; however, author Kevin Liptak appears to take no sides, and does not say which voice in the president’s ear will be loudest. Although he pulled from more sources, including French president-elect Emmanuel Macron, Liptak kept his article free of political bias, sticking simply to the facts, and stating who said what in the climate change debate.
In a CBSN video segment, CBS news anchors focused more on potential consequences to be faced by leaving the Paris Accord rather than Trump’s potential decision. A correspondent to the news network discussed the repercussions that the U.S. could face if the decision is made to leave the agreement. The listed reactions are overwhelmingly negative, but the arguments made for the occurrence of these negative externalities appeared to be well-sourced. Economic fallout from leaving the pact was the segment’s main focus, and the correspondent advocated for a compromise in order to satisfy all parties, stating that it is something Trump has been willing to do before and should be willing to do in this scenario. In this way, any political bias the correspondent may have had was dampened by the proposal of a deal that works in favor of both sides.
The Washington Times, although a conservative newspaper, took a similar approach as CNN in its article’s writing and presentation. With a neutral title and fact-based delivery of information, author Dave Boyer remained unbiased. He pulled statements from both environmental groups in favor of the deal, and conservative and free market groups that stand against it, presenting them in the same fashion without seemingly being biased in any way.
Breitbart, a notoriously conservative media outlet, took a much different direction from any of the other previously mentioned news sources. Their article on the Paris Accord makes the claim that the international climate change agreement would be better off without the U.S., citing experts, and by experts, author UPI means only one man, Michael Traut. Reading further into Traut’s comments reveals that he doesn’t in fact believe that the agreement would be stronger without a fully committed U.S. but rather a misbehaving, chaos-inducing U.S. led by Trump. The misleading title: “Paris Climate deal stronger without U.S., experts say” is geared toward convincing Breitbart readers that leaving is in the U.S. and world’s best interest, yet supporting reasons are not offered, indicating a biased stance by the Breitbart writer.
If one wants to learn anything about what is happening in the world, the news outlet providing the information is undoubtedly going to skew the information in one way or another. It is impossible to escape bias completely; however, the authors at CNN and The Washington Times seemed to do well enough, despite the fact that they likely had their own opinions. The views expressed in left-sided articles coincided with their political views, as was to be expected, with the liberal base hoping to remain part of the Paris Accord to further their climate change and globalization agenda. Contradictory to that, the right-sided argument, primarily Breitbart, pushed hard to advocate for U.S. independence from the agreement. Neutral news sources such as CNN tended to stick to hard facts and only what had been said regarding Trump’s climate change decision.