The right-wing media alliance in the United States has begun a full-on assault on the Paris agreement this week, as internal divisions within the White House consider their options.
In what started on Friday last week with revelations that Patricia Espinosa, the UNFCCC Executive Secretary couldn’t schedule a meeting with the US State department, reports started surfacing across the media spectrum that there was a split in the Whitehouse.
Once news spread that Espinosa’s google calendar invites were empty, publications such as Vox news, the New York Times, The Hill, Democracy Now and previously the Wall Street Journal have all began speculating on a deep rift between key advisors pushing and pulling Trump in and out of the Paris agreement.
According to the New York Times and Wall Street Journal before that, there is a belief that Ivanka Trump, her husband Jared Kushner, and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson are all pushing Trump to remain within the UN climate negotiations. In his Senate hearing Rex Tillerson did state that “It’s important that the U.S. maintains its seat at the table about how to address the threat of climate change, which does require a global response.”
However, the stance of Ivanka and Kushner is much less obvious. In January, Politico hailed her as a Climate Czar with little actual evidence that she had infact advocated on behalf of Climate Change with her father, no direct quotes, or tweets. When the the Wall Street Journal later published a report hailing Ivanka and Kushner in February, they too used “sources familiar with the matter”. This led Breitbart news, the right wing publication that brought Steve Bannon so much fame, and Marc Morano to attack Ivanka’s supposed stance.
Strangely, with Breitbart’s editor sharing an office-floor with Ivanka Trump they too couldn’t seem to get Ivanka or her husband on record.
This week, her presumed role as a moderate within the Whitehouse was again touted alongside Tillerson thanks to the New York Times who based their report on a combination of anonymous sources cited as “energy and government officials with knowledge of the debate”. This led the Hill, Democracy Now and Vox to report on this supposed rift, using the same sources.
Again, there seems to be a real gap in this reporting, with limited sources cited since Rex Tillerson’s Senate confirmation hearing. This was in line with the Secretary of State’s former company, ExxonMobil.
Since the New York Times article created media waves, right-wing publications have fought back fiercely. This was led, by Bannon’s Breitbart news, who argued that the UN climate agreement was “dangerous and immoral” and led by the “ Climate Industrial Complex”.
Following suite was the Competitive Enterprise Institute who argued that Trump needed to extricate the United States from “the UN-orchestrated world of climate diplomacy entirely”. Their article is much more of a policy paper than an opinion piece, which should raise some hairs considering that a number of Trump’s Transition team and current cabinet members have strong links to the Competitive Enterprise Institute.
This includes Myron Ebell who led the Transition Team on selecting Scott Pruit to lead the Environmental Protection Agency.
Finally, the Washington Times, a conservative paper who aims to counter the pulitzer prize-winning Washington Post, added their spice to the right-wing pot, reporting that “Hundreds of Scientists urge Trump to withdraw from UN climate-change agency”.
The article refers to a letter published on well-known Climate skeptic site What’s Up With That that was written by MIT scientist Richard Lindzen. The lead scientist is also a well known Climate denialist, who has received hundreds of thousands of dollars in funds from Exxon Mobil.
The letter was also by Fox News, The Daily Caller and The Hill. Graham Readfern and DeSmog investigated the letter and the list, and found that only a small handful of the signatories could be considered “even remotely ‘qualified’ or ‘eminent’ — but not in the field of climate science.” The list included individuals “interested in climate,” and one signatory who only identified as an “emailer who wished to sign the petition” while some signers provided no affiliation or address whatsoever.
While there is widespread speculation on what could or what could not be happening inside the White House, there is no doubt that this reflects a full-on assault aiming to ensure that Trump fulfills his campaign commitment to leave the UN climate negotiations.
Considering the close connections between Breitbart, the Competitive Enterprise Institute, Fox News and the Washington Times, it is no surprise that they all followed suite. Just as it is no surprise that Vox, Democracy Now, and The Hill all followed the lead of the New York Times.
What should be surprising is the timing. There is a lot of pressure on Trump to fulfill his campaign promises within his first 100 days. That window closes on April 29 this year. The next sitting of the UN climate negotiations will be in early May. A clear decision will have to have been made by then.
It seems the right-wing-media has their hearts set on pulling trump out of the UN climate negotiations before then.