Debate commission on climate change ice-out: ‘Dozens of issues’ don’t get time or attention

As the final presidential debate was concluding Wednesday night, so was an astonishing moderatorial performance. Fox News anchor Chris Wallace managed a tidy, headline-making affair between two opponents who couldn’t even bring themselves to shake hands at the outset.

Absolute perfection would have come with a tweak to Wallace’s list of questions: Like his predecessors, he couldn’t find time to sneak in a question about climate change. As the New York Times’ Justin Gillis recently reported, this is a threat that’s no longer theoretical:

Several observers took note that climate change didn’t warrant a direct discussion — the second presidential debate featured an energy question — throughout the general election period. They couldn’t have been surprised, considering that the primary debates addressed this civilization-threatening matter spottily.

In search of answers, on Thursday the Erik Wemple Blog asked Commission on Presidential Debates Executive Director Janet Brown about climate change’s ice-out. “The commission leaves the editorial discretion to moderators for both the selection of topics and questions,” said Brown, who also said that climate change has some company. “I thought the topics and questions were good,” said Brown. “There are dozens of issues that unfortunately don’t fit into the time allotted for the four debates.”

Though the oligopoly of major television networks may not have time for climate change, coastal communities, farmers, the Pentagon and many others have no choice but to reckon with it. When will debate moderators catch up?

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