Media Matters’ Evlondo Cooper joins Drilled podcast to discuss national TV news’ poor coverage of climate protests Cooper: “There's no climate context. There's no context about the escalating criminalization of their protests. There's no context about the violence being directed at [activists].” Special Programs Climate & Energy Written by Media Matters Staff Published 08/24/23 12:47 PM EDT Full episode here. Drilled 8-22-23 August 22, 2023 Audio file Citation From the August 22, 2023, episode of Drilled AMY WESTERVELT (HOST) : I know that just purely anecdotally, whenever I pitch a story that's related to protests, it's kind of a hard sell. You know, it's like, “What's really happening? Is it new?” Nobody wants to cover a particular action because then it feels like you're just doing P.R. for the environmental organizations. What do outlets, when they do cover protests at all, what are the sorts of stories that you're seeing? … EVLONDO COOPER (SENIOR RESEARCHER, MEDIA MATTERS): It’s important, for me, to understand that social media is its own kind of activism, but I think there are also a lot of persuadables — older people, older voters — who we’re trying to get on board with understanding the need for urgent climate action, who still get most of the news from mainstream sources. So that's why we wanted to kind of focus on the kind of traditional corporate news media environment. But all you would see really is just a dry recital of, you know, a specific action. You didn't get any context about the urgency behind the action, why the people were protesting. And to me, it called to mind — there have been a lot of really great justice movements that have employed controversial tactics, and there are good-faith disagreements within those movements themselves about which tactics to deploy. But I think a lot of those would have been much less successful if people didn't really understand why they were protesting in the first place. And so the media presenting these climate activists as just disruptors — as nuisances, as knucklehead kids who don't really know what they're doing or why they're doing it — paved the way for me, which I think is a more dangerous trend, which is when you have an organization like Fox News, which covered the protests way more than other mainstream news outlets. And their coverage was full of derision, climate denial, and mocking and even calls for violence against the protesters. So I think you have a mainstream news environment that when they cover these protests, they cover them as just the most basic kind of headline news rundowns. “These activists did this at this gallery,” or, “They protested this sports event.” There's no climate context. There's no context about the escalating criminalization of their protests. There's no context about the violence being directed at them. And then you have a network [Fox News] swooping in and filling that gap with, “These are bad people who are protesting a fake thing, and they deserve whatever they have coming to them.” To see Media Matters’ full analysis of how major national TV news networks covered the climate protests, click here.