With the presidential primary season in full swing, prime-time cable and broadcast evening news coverage of the economy focused on the candidates' policy priorities in the second half of 2015. News coverage of economic inequality fell considerably after hitting an all-time high in the first half of the year.
From the December 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
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From the December 7 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
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From the October 12 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
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The Democratic presidential candidates will gather in Las Vegas for their first primary debate on October 13, and NextGen Climate President Tom Steyer is urging CNN debate moderator Anderson Cooper to make climate change and clean energy a central part of the discussion.
In a September 29 letter to Cooper, Steyer wrote that while three major candidates -- Hillary Clinton, Martin O'Malley, and Bernie Sanders -- have recognized the threat posed by climate change and taken strong stands on key climate-related issues like the Keystone XL pipeline, Arctic drilling, and the EPA's Clean Power Plan, "the candidates have yet to discuss their specific plans to comprehensively address climate change and build a clean energy economy." That's why, according to Steyer, Cooper has "a unique opportunity to push the Democratic presidential candidates" to "articulate, defend and refine" their climate and clean energy plans.
In addition to making his case based on the urgency of addressing climate change, Steyer's letter cited polls showing that climate change is a "top-tier issue for Democratic voters" and argued that these voters "demand nothing less than a robust discussion" about the issue.
Cooper recently told the Huffington Post that he wasn't aware of Steyer's letter and wouldn't commit to asking about climate change in next week's debate. Cooper did acknowledge, however, that "environmental issues are of great interest" to both Democrats and the country as a whole, and he hinted that it is "entirely possible" he'll ask the candidates about the topic. CNN's Jake Tapper asked several GOP candidates about climate change during the cable network's Republican primary debate on September 16.
But NextGen Climate isn't taking any chances. In an October 7 blog post, the group pointed out that The Washington Post's Greg Sargent also believes that Democratic primary voters "deserve to know more specifics about the contenders' [climate] solutions," and concluded: "You're up, Anderson." NextGen also urged supporters to tweet some climate- and energy-related questions to Cooper:
Because of both the magnitude of the climate crisis and importance of the issue to Democratic voters, NextGen has called on the Democratic Party to add another primary-season debate to its schedule that will focus entirely on climate change and clean energy. But in the meantime, Tuesday's CNN debate presents an opportunity to get the conversation started.
Image at top via Flickr user mroach using a Creative Commons License.
CNN will host the second GOP presidential primary debate tonight, September 16. The network has an inconsistent track record on how it has covered GOP candidates' stances on climate change -- debate host Jake Tapper has fact-checked candidates' climate denial, but the network's coverage of the issue has been problematic at times. Here are the good, the bad, and the ugly ways CNN has covered the GOP presidential candidates' positions on climate change so far this year.
Media Matters analyzed cable news coverage of economic issues during the first half of 2015 on CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, and found that appearances by racial and ethnic minority guests in related segments amounted to less than a quarter of all guest appearances.
Cable and network TV news devoted more segments to coverage of economic issues during the first half of 2015 compared to the last six months of 2014, an increase driven by heightened public interest in the debate over economic inequality and a flurry of economic policy proposals from nearly two dozen 2016 presidential candidates.
Several media outlets that covered a Florida shooting making national headlines showed an old mugshot of the Latino victim taken after an unrelated past arrest, even though other pictures of the victim were available.
On July 23, Candelario Gonzalez was shot to death in front of his family, allegedly by Robert Doyle, following a road-rage dispute in Beverly Hills, Florida. Doyle was arrested at the scene and charged with second-degree murder.
According to a report by New York's Daily News, both Doyle and an occupant in Gonzalez's car called 911 following a conflict between the two men on the road. "Florida grandfather" Gonzalez told the operator that he was going to follow Doyle to his house to learn his address. In his call, Doyle told the 911 operator, "My gun is already out. It's cocked and locked," and said he was going to shoot Gonzalez in the head. When both cars arrived at Doyle's residence, Gonzalez exited his vehicle. According to a recording of the 911 call, Gonzalez's wife yelled, "Don't shoot!" before Gonzalez was shot multiple times in front of his daughter and granddaughter. Doyle allegedly then held Gonzalez's family at gunpoint. Witnesses say Gonzalez was backing away from Doyle when he was killed.
The tragedy was covered by both English and Spanish-language media, some of which showed a mugshot of Gonzalez in their reports, despite the apparent availability of other images. (Court records show that Gonzalez pled guilty to two nonviolent misdemeanors in 2014.)
Tampa Bay's ABC affiliate, WFTS, and its website, ABC Action News, as well as Los Angeles' Telemundo affiliate KVEA, all showed Gonzalez's mug shot. The July 27 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360 went even further, showing a side-by-side picture of both the shooter and victim's mugshots. These same outlets also showed images of the victim with his family, proving that other pictures were available.
Negative imagery in the media reinforces existing negative stereotypes about minorities. According to a nationwide 2012 study conducted by the National Hispanic Media Coalition, people exposed to negative portrayals of Hispanics in the news "are most likely to think of Latinos in association with a culture of crime and gangs." Media Matters has documented how news outlets exacerbate the problem.
Under Florida law, Doyle can choose to avail himself of Florida's controversial and expansive "Stand Your Ground" self-defense law. This particular Florida law, which was signed by then Gov. Jeb Bush in 2005, will give Doyle the opportunity to participate in a pre-trial hearing to determine if the charges against him should be dismissed. If he ends up on trial and the case goes to a jury, instructions given by the judge to the jury will include "Stand Your Ground's" wide-ranging definition of justifiable homicide.
As reported by ThinkProgress, a 2014 Urban Institute study on "Stand Your Ground" found that "in cases with black or Hispanic victims, the killings were found justified by the Stand Your Ground law 78 percent of the time, compared to 56 percent in cases with white victims" - a lopsided finding that underscores the importance of responsible media coverage of incidents like this, before the suspect goes to trial.
Authorities say that Doyle was in possession of a valid permit to carry a concealed gun.
Image of Candelario Gonzales via screenshot
UPDATED: In another continuation of the dismaying trend of media portraying minority victims with negative imagery, NBC, BBC, CNN and Univision chose to use a mug shot of Sam Dubose -- the victim of a July 19 fatal police shooting. Cincinnati police officer Ray Tensing has been indicted for the killing. Social media users pointed out that there were other available images that could have been used in the coverage:
Several months into the 2016 presidential campaign, the media is frequently failing to fact-check statements by presidential candidates denying the science of climate change. Seven major newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters have thus far failed to indicate that candidates' statements conflict with the scientific consensus in approximately 43 percent of their coverage, while the major broadcast and cable news outlets other than MSNBC have failed to do so 75 percent of the time.
Coverage of the economy on weeknight television news shows during the last six months of 2014 continued to focus heavily on policies meant to boost job creation and economic growth, but discussions overwhelmingly lacked input from actual economists. Additionally, a Media Matters analysis uncovered a relative decline in the number of segments promoting the conservative media myths that Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage hurt the labor market.
Media Matters conducted an analysis of education coverage on weeknight cable news programs so far in 2014 to determine how many of the shows' guests who discussed the topic were educators. The analysis found that across MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN, educators made up only 9 percent of guests during education segments.
MSNBC and CNN both shined a spotlight on the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the extreme anti-gay group behind Arizona's recent effort to allow businesses to refuse service to gay customers. The networks' decisions to profile ADF stand in stark contrast to a broader media tendency to ignore anti-gay group's records of extremism.
In the same week that Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer chose to veto SB 1062, a measure that would have expanded protections for businesses refusing service to gay customers, both CNN and MSNBC ran segments profiling ADF, which drafted the law along with the Center for Arizona policy.
During the February 25 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360, Cooper noted the similarities between the talking points used by proponents of SB 1062 and similar measures in other states, tracing their shared "genetic code" back to ADF. Though Cooper invited ADF to participate in the segment, the group declined:
From the February 21 edition of CNN's Anderson Cooper 360:
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During its first day on the air, Al Jazeera America gave climate change nearly half as much coverage as network news programs did during the year 2012, all while avoiding common pitfalls like providing false balance to those that deny the science and leaving the crisis' manmade origins ambiguous.
The fledgling network's first climate report comprised the entirety of Tuesday's edition of Inside Story, a half-hour news discussion program that promises to "take an in-depth look at the story behind the headlines." Indeed, the inaugural show featured a meaningful dialogue on -- in guest Heidi Cullen's words -- "coming to terms with the fact that we're all part of the problem ... [and] the solution" to manmade global warming, and discussed consequences like extreme weather and rising sea levels. It never wavered on the veracity of the issue:
Al Jazeera America's 30 minutes of climate coverage (about 24 minutes not including commercial breaks) represented nearly half of what was seen on all network nightly news programs in 2012, and more than what was featured by CNN's Erin Burnett OutFront and Anderson Cooper 360 and Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor and Hannity combined in the past four and a half months:
While the network's early attention to climate change is a breath of fresh air, it may not qualify as a surprise. After all, network heads promised serious, in-depth reporting with "less opinion, less yelling and fewer celebrity sightings," and commentators have held out hope for a new source of solid TV journalism ever since the sale of Current TV was finalized early this year.
Bottom line: this was a great start. But just as encouraging as what Al Jazeera America discussed last night -- climate change -- is the list of things it didn't do:
Perhaps most significantly, Inside Story explored public opinion on climate science, and even presented differing views on climate policy, without once offering marginal contrarian viewpoints as a "counterbalance." Ehab Al Shihabi, Al Jazeera America's acting chief executive, has cited PBS as a model, and it showed. Other cable news channels have sometimes run afoul of this standard.