MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Climate Skeptics: ‘How Do You Rationalize the Deniers’ and Their Impact?

MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell on Wednesday used the very loaded term of "denier" to deride global warming skeptics. Talking to liberal host Rachel Maddow, she referenced Sarah Palin’s opposition to the Copenhagen climate conference and chided, "Her Facebook entry says, you know, ‘Mr. President, boycott Copenhagen.’ How do you rationalize the deniers and the impact that they are having?" [Audio available here.]

"Deniers" is a word that climate skeptics find quite offensive, as many liberals equate not believing in man-made global warming to denying that the Holocaust occurred. (In March 2006, CBS reporter Scott Pelley famously compared, "If I do an interview with Elie Wiesel, am I required as a journalist to find a Holocaust denier?")

A dismissive Maddow moved beyond dictionary-approved words while insulting Republicans. She asserted that conservatives will either accept reality or respond, "'We don't believe the problem is real' and become a denialist [sic] about it." A denialist?

Andrea Mitchell ignored the embarrassing grammatical choice and allowed the host of the Rachel Maddow Show to repeat it: "And It seems like the denialists [sic] actually have the momentum within the Republican Party, among ambitious Republicans."

Referencing an earlier interview with Al Gore, Mitchell wondered if the ex-Vice President was making "excuses" for Barack Obama’s lack of progress with climate change legislation. She whined, "But, then again, the President chose health care as his signature issue. He had to face all of the other problems on the economy which he inherited in, you know, a mess. But, now, the Senate hasn't even acted on the goals."

A transcript of the December 9 segment, which aired at 1:17pm EST, follows:

ANDREA MITCHELL: Well, first let's talk about Sarah Palin versus Al Gore. Sarah Palin, on her Facebook page and in this op-ed in this Washington Post today, she writes, "This Climate-Gate scandal obviously calls into question the proposals being pushed in Copenhagen without trustworthy science and with so much at stake Americans should be wary about what comes out of this politicized conference." Her Facebook entry says, you know, "Mr. President, boycott Copenhagen." How do you rationalize the deniers and the impact that they are having?"

RACHEL MADDOW: Well, the political choice that, I think, people on the right have to make about climate change is whether or not they’re going to acknowledge that climate change exists, acknowledge the scientific consensus that's pretty unassailable on climate change, and then say that they have a difference of opinion about what to do, in terms of responding to it, or whether they’re going to, sort of, go off the deep end and just say, "We don't believe the problem is real" and become a denialist [sic] about it. And It seems like the denialists [sic] actually have the momentum within the Republican Party, among ambitious Republicans. I think that Jim Inhofe, sort of leading, has weirdly helped him politically within the Republican Party. I don't think that is a good sign for us being able to make constructive progress on the issue as a country or even being able to have a constructive debate. It would be nice if everybody conceded the facts and we could start there.

MITCHELL: Do you think that- Al Gore was saying that- making excuses, you could argue for President Obama saying, "Look, he has to take this only so far because there is no point in going beyond what the Senate wants to do.

MADDOW: Right.

MITCHELL: But, then, again the President chose health care as his signature issue. He had to face all of the other problems on the economy which he inherited in, you know, a mess. But, now, the Senate hasn't even acted on the goals.

MADDOW: The White House, remember, they thought health care would be done by August. So- I think that in terms of setting out with their- that's what they say. And certainly to speak with the White House officials they express prone found regret that it went so far beyond August and it is still not resolved. They may have set up their priorities on a slightly more ambitious calendar than they should have reasonably expected. But, it is true that you can't promise more than the Congress can be deliver. If the congress is going to be mired in denying the facts before you can even get to debating the policy, then it is not going to be a bipartisan policy. That's actually a little bit easier to do, because you just push it through with all Democrat votes.

Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock
Scott Whitlock is the senior news analyst for the Media Research Center and a contributing editor for NewsBusters.org