CNN's The Lead with Jake Tapper: Jon Stewart on burn-pit legislation

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Fox News covered burn-pit legislation for just 2 minutes until Jon Stewart shamed the network into an interview

  • Since Wednesday, when Senate Republicans voted against the Sergeant First Class Heath Robinson Honoring Our Promise to Address Comprehensive Toxics (PACT) Act of 2022, Fox News had covered the legislation for just 2 minutes until activist and comedian Jon Stewart shamed the network into an interview this morning on America’s Newsroom. In his July 28 interview with MSNBC's Mehdi Hasan, Stewart claimed that Fox “refused” to host him and that he had “been begging [Fox] to get on the air all day long.”

    In the same time period, both MSNBC and CNN provided substantial coverage of the legislation and its failure in the Senate chamber at the hands of Republicans, with 1 hour and 15 minutes and 37 minutes, respectively.

  • Cable news coverage of burn-pit legislation
  • Not only did both these networks host Stewart for lengthy interviews, they also hosted 9/11 first-responder activist John Feal; activist Susan Zeier, whose son-in-law died at 39 after exposure to military burn pits; Paul Rieckhoff, founder and executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America; and burn-pit victim advocate Le Roy Torres.

    Even Newsmax, the “ultra-conservative” cable news network that was sued for defamation for false accusations of voter fraud and that has consistently pushed misinformation about the January 6 Capitol riot, hosted Stewart on the burn-pit legislation yesterday.

    The Senate first passed the PACT Act on June 16, 2022, with landside support: 84-14. But due to a “procedural issue,” the House then sent its version of the bill with a correction back to the Senate for another vote. There, 41 Republicans voted against the act that the GOP had previously supported. Democrats have accused Republicans of playing petty politics and retaliating against Democratic wins with the passage of legislation to address the semiconductor shortage and a surprise climate and tax deal Sen. Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) worked out with holdout Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).

    Despite Fox’s virtue signaling on veterans’ issues, such as its Proud American series, for the network to essentially ignore how Republicans have stalled life-saving assistance to military veterans exposed to toxic burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan is disgraceful and hypocritical.

  • Methodology

  • Media Matters searched transcripts in the SnapStream video database for all original programming on CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC for any combination and variation of any of the terms “burn,” “pit,” “toxic,” “toxin,” “expose,” “trash,” or “waste” within five words of each other from July 27, 2022, when Senate Republicans voted against the PACT Act, through noon ET July 29, 2022.

    We timed segments, which we defined as instances when U.S. military burn pits in Iraq and Afghanistan were the stated topic of discussion or when we found significant discussion of burn pits. We defined significant discussion as instances when two or more speakers in a multitopic segment discussed burn pits with one another.

    We also included passing mentions, which we defined as instances when a speaker mentioned burn pits without another speaker in the segment engaging with the comment, and teasers, when the anchor or host promoted a segment about burn pits scheduled to air later in the broadcast.

    We rounded all times to the nearest minute.