Right-wing media launch bogus attacks on Green New Deal to spin failed coronavirus relief bill vote

Right-wing media hyperventilates over Green New Deal measures that Democrats never proposed

RWM attacks the GND

Citation Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

Right-wing media figures have been busy blasting the Green New Deal in the wake of the failed Senate coronavirus relief vote. Prominent right-wing voices piled on to lie and fearmonger about the climate proposal after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) invoked the Green New Deal in a March 23 speech in which he stated, “Democrats won’t let us fund hospitals or save small businesses unless they get to dust off the 'Green New Deal.'”

The fact that Green New Deal policies were not part of the negotiations around the coronavirus relief package did not stop right-wing media from continuing its long-standing strategy of using any opportunity to attack the Green New Deal.

Right-wing media echo McConnell’s baseless talking point to attack the Green New Deal 

In a tweet linking to McConnell’s speech, former Trump White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders accused Democrats of “leveraging Americans’ suffering during this crisis to win concessions on their Green New Deal”:

Turning Point USA’s Benny Johnson claimed that Democrats were using “a national crisis” to push for “Green New Deal goodies,” calling House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) “a disgrace to this country”:

Newsmax’s John Cardillo said that “Nancy Pelosi is using this crisis, blocking relief bills, to ram through portions of the Green New Deal.”

Right-wing YouTuber Steven Crowder also jumped in on the action:

And Fox News contributor Dan Bongino accused Democrats of trying “to leverage a viral quarantine” to pass the Green New Deal while calling them “a Party of Neros”:

Other tweets from right-wing media influencers insinuating that Democrats care more about a Green New Deal than a relief proposal included Trump campaign Strategic Communications Director Marc Lotter and Women for America First Chair Amy Kremer. Breitbart News highlighted Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), who echoed McConnell’s earlier speech by claiming, “We're here trying to fight for the man and woman on the street in our home towns and yet they're fighting for the Green New Deal!”

The Green New Deal attacks were not just relegated to Twitter -- they also predictably made their way to Fox News personalities. Fox prime-time host Sean Hannity mentioned the Green New Deal on his March 23 radio program, stating that Democrats “are willing to hold up aid to American workers and aid to small business and aid to companies that are laying off people left and right and their businesses are shut down as a result of all of this because they want a new green deal.” In the opening monologue to his Fox News show later that night, he again mentioned the climate resolution, stating that Democrats “want their Green New Deal one way or another.”

On The Five, co-host Jesse Watters stated that “the dillydallying by Nancy [Pelosi], by inserting the Green New Deal into a rescue package, has every American thinking ‘what are you doing?’”

On Tucker Carlson Tonight, Sen. John Kennedy (R-LA) -- who earlier repeated McConnell’s talking point in a tweet -- stated that Democrats “basically, they want the Green New Deal” in the stimulus package.

In fact, the Green New Deal was mentioned on Fox News over a dozen times during March 23 and 24, either by airing McConnell’s speech about coronavirus legislation or other commentaries around it.

Finally, the talking point attacking the Green New Deal made its way to President Donald Trump, who is no stranger to telling extreme lies about it. He tweeted about it during the night of March 23, and again on the morning of March 24. While speaking on the relief bill during a Fox News town hall later that day, he stated, “We had a really good, solid deal … all of a sudden they start throwing in Green New Deal stuff!”

The Green New Deal is NOT included in any coronavirus relief package, but that doesn’t stop right-wingers from continuing to lie about it

McConnell falsely characterized two climate-related proposals that were included in the original relief bill as Green New Deal measures. They are not. One dealt with extending tax credits for the solar and wind industries, while the other proposed new regulations on airline emissions.

There is sound reasoning behind both of these ideas. For clean energy tax breaks, the chief operating officer of the American Council on Renewable Energy, Bill Parsons, noted

If the purpose of an economic stimulus bill is to provide support to people and industries that have been adversely impacted by coronavirus, the renewables sector absolutely meets that criteria,” said Parsons, citing the supply-chain disruptions, the tax credit availability and the urgency of addressing climate change.

And as one Democratic aide told E&E News, if the legislation “included money to buy oil for the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and to help airlines, it's a reasonable trade-off to help clean energy and reduce emissions.”

Nowhere in the text of the Green New Deal are these policy proposals even mentioned. The Green New Deal is an ambitious plan to fight climate change by rapidly decarbonizing the economy to get to 100% clean energy by 2050 -- a proposal in line with what the scientific community is telling us about the threat of climate change.

The Washington Post’s Energy 202 summed this up succinctly:

Democratic leaders are not asking for measures included in the Green New Deal, such as a jobs guarantee and a complete transition to net-zero emissions in electricity generation — but that has not stopped Republicans from slapping that moniker on Democrats' requests for the coronavirus response.

To equate clean energy tax breaks and simple regulations of airline emissions with the Green New Deal is absurd -- but that hasn’t stopped right-wing media from doing it, and it likely never will. Conservatives are obsessed with the Green New Deal, and for the past year, they’ve been constantly lying and fearmongering about it.

And it doesn't help that other TV news outlets have essentially ceded the issue to Fox News. As Media Matters found in two separate studies, Fox has dominated the cable news discussion of the Green New Deal -- the network talks about it way more than MSNBC and CNN, and Fox personalities rarely connect it to climate change and generally lie about what it actually says.

Because of the conservative obsession with lying about the Green New Deal and the lack of pushback by mainstream news outlets, right-wing media has smeared the resolution so much that they are able to give cover to McConnell's false assertion yesterday that any climate proposal is the “Green New Deal.” Lying about the legislation also allows Republicans to deflect from the main reason that their relief bill was rejected: Negotiations broke down in part over the lack of oversight of a huge $500 billion slush fund for big businesses and major corporations.

Let’s hope that the general public becomes more aware of these bad-faith, right-wing attacks on this climate proposal, as the Sunrise Movement’s Varshini Prakash said best: