Climate change policy in a lot of the mainstream media has been abysmally low in 2018. It’s been tilting upward in the first quarter of 2019, thanks in big part to the Green New Deal. The ascending trend is a positive growth overall — it’s about time media began paying more attention to the existential crisis of the time! — and some of the policy was weak, and some was a entire mess.
Climate change was pitifully undercovered annually
Climate policy in 2018 dropped 45 percentage from 2017 amounts on the national broadcast TV networks, we in Media Matters discovered — also it’s not like policy in 2017 was anything to brag about. In 2018, the major nightly news and Sunday morning political shows on the national broadcast networks spent a combined total of only 142 minutes climate change, and nearly a third of this originated from a single climate-concentrated episode of Meet the Press on December 30.
Without that a single series, 2018’s policy could have dropped 64 percentage from the previous year — an astonishing decline if you consider the horrific intense weather this past year, the harrowing climate science reports published by the United Nations and 13 U.S. government agencies, the Trump administration’s ongoing assault on climate protections, and the ever-increasing urgency of the climate crisis.
Analyses of other media tendencies in 2018 also pinpointed shortcomings. The watchdog group Public Citizen examined policy of extreme weather events in many of U.S. papers, online resources, and cable and broadcast TV networks every year and discovered “the proportion of pieces that mentioned climate change was disappointingly low.” Just 7 percent of stories about hurricanes incorporated climate change, while the figures were higher for other kinds of weather disasters &8212; but still not as high as we desire them to become.
Many of the journalists that served as moderators in 2018 midterm election discussions failed climate change also (as they had in 2016). Only 29 percentage of important debates this past year in competitive Senate and gubernatorial races included a question regarding climate change.
But the 2018 election ultimately triggered a change in climate policy and in the wider national conversation regarding the requirement for climate action — as it attracted us AOC.
Hey, seem: The media is paying a little bit more attention to climate change this season
President Donald Trump drove climate policy (or the absence of it, rather) in the last few years, however so much in 2019, Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York, has obtained over the driver’s chair.
When she and Senator Ed Markey, that a Democrat from Massachusetts, introduced their Green New Deal resolution on February 7they kicked off a firestorm of climate policy. Whether you adore the Green New Deal, despise it, or need to quibble over its specifics, you can’t deny that it’s spurring more discussion of climate policy compared to the U.S. has ever noticed.
The Green New Deal inspired the Washington Post to dedicate five consecutive times of editorials to substantive discussion of a comprehensive climate program (handily compiled into one online piece). It obtained the important Sunday morning political shows talking about climate change with much more fervor than they did during most of this past year. It prompted an odd number of prime-time cable climate coverage. It triggered MSNBC’s Chris Hayes to sponsor a special event with Ocasio-Cortez — later he said last year which climate policy was a “palpable ratings killer.” And it mimicked young Americans to march in the roads and face their senators, thereby pushing their messages into the press.
The Green New Deal has spurred a few of Republican associates of Congress to cough up a number of their very own milquetoast ideas for addressing aspects of the climate crisis — like Senator Lamar Alexander from Tennessee, who went on NPR’s All Things Considered to correct his climate program, and Representative Matt Gaetz from Florida, who gave an interview to Vice to encourage his.
Presidential optimistic Jay Inslee, the Democratic governor of Washington condition, is helping also by making climate change the central issue in his campaign and discussing it on ABC’s This Week, CNN’s State of the Nation, as well as Fox & Friends, Trump’s favorite series. The other Democratic presidential candidates will also be talking about climate change and the Green New Deal.
Michael Brochstein / SOPA Images / LightRocket via Getty Images
So the quantity of policy is upward, however about the quality?
Some of the climate policy we’t seen so far this season been informative and constructive. See: the Washington Post’s editorial series and also Chris Hayes’ AOC special. Some of it was superficial. See: TV talking heads. And some of it was a jumble of lies, mockery, and fearmongering. See: Almost everything on Fox News.
When the important networks’ Sunday morning political shows discussed the Green New Deal the weekend later the resolution has been unveiled, “most of the discussion was superficial and narrowly focused on whether the Green New Deal will cause intra-party fighting among Democrats or end up benefiting Republicans, not on whether its policy ideas are good approaches for fighting climate change,” as Media Matters’ Evlondo Cooper pointed out.
Carlos Maza in Vox appeared in a wider selection of TV coverage and discovered the same thing, since he described in a video:
I have observed hours of sections roughly the Green New Deal and not one of them really explained how it might function. Instead, they concentrate on the politics. Is it gont pass? Does Pelosi like it? What did Trump tweet about it? Everything exceptIs it a fantastic idea?
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This kind of narrow, horse race-style policy of policy suggestions is among the climate-policy pitfalls we should be on the watch for in 2019.
Another issue is that a policy of the Green New Deal doesn’t mention climate change. More than half Fox News’ sections on the program in the days after it had been published didn’t include some discussion of climate change. Fox personalities and guests frequently talked about the proposition like it were a pointless strategy to oppress the masses, not a strategy to tackle a significant looming threat. CNN and MSNBC weren’t almost that bad, of course, however they also conducted segments that failed to bring up climate change and frequently discussed the Green New Deal as a political football.
One of the biggest issues with policy of the Green New Deal is there’s a great deal more of it on Fox along with other right-wing sockets than on mainstream and left-leaning sockets — and also in several circumstances, Fox and its ilk are straight–upward lying. Fox aired over three times as many segments approximately the Green New Deal from February 7 to 11 as did CNN and MSNBC combined. With their hefty policy and repetition of misinformation — like entirely bogus claims concerning sky-high expenses — right-wing media are distorting the national dialogue as it’s getting going.
Sean McElwee of the progressive think tank Data for Progress explained this is playing out in a current New York Times op-ed:
According to information shared with The Times from Navigator, a progressive polling job, 37 percentage of Republican viewers of Fox News had discovered “a lot” roughly the Green New Deal, in comparison with 14 percentage of registered voters.
When asked simply, “Based on what you know, do you support or oppose the Green New Deal?,” 22 percentage of respondents are in service, 29 percent are opposed and 49 percentage aren’t sure. But 74 percentage of Fox-viewing Republicans oppose the Green New Deal (65 percent strongly), and just 21 percentage haven’t formed an opinion.
He concludes that “the Republican propaganda machine has already reshaped the narrative.”
We don’t anticipate Fox to improve (some information outlets are past redemption), however mainstream and progressive news organizations could perform better. They have to pay the Green New Deal and climate change more frequently, to provide a counterweight to the bunk coming from the right. And they ought to cover it less a political narrative (that “won” the day when Mitch McConnell held a stunt vote the Green New Deal?) , however with substantive reporting and discussion about ways to implement climate policies which are fair, effective, and commensurate with the huge size of the issue.
Lisa Hymas is director of the climate and energy application in Media Matters for America. She was previously a senior editor in Grist.