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  • National TV news is still failing to properly incorporate climate change into hurricane coverage

    ABC did not mention climate at all during Florence, while CBS, PBS, CNN, and MSNBC did worse than last year during Harvey

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A Media Matters analysis of Hurricane Florence broadcast news coverage from September 7-19 found that ABC failed to air a single segment that mentioned the links between climate change and hurricanes like Florence, while NBC aired one segment and CBS aired two. PBS NewsHour also aired two. A review of weekday, prime-time coverage of Florence on the three major cable news networks found that MSNBC ran four segments that mentioned climate change in the context of hurricanes, and CNN ran two. Fox aired six segments, but these either downplayed or outright dismissed the link between climate change and hurricanes. Overall, coverage was down from a year ago: The majority of the networks mentioned the connections between hurricanes and climate change in fewer segments than they did while covering Hurricane Harvey last year.

    Florence brought historic levels of rainfall and destruction to the Carolinas. Scientists say that climate change worsened these effects.

    After making landfall over North Carolina on September 14, Hurricane Florence dumped record amounts of rainfall over the region. Swansboro, N.C., had over 30 inches of rain, which broke the previous record of 24 inches set by Hurricane Floyd in 1999. South Carolina’s record for most rain in a single spot was also broken, as over 18 inches of rain fell in Marion. Additionally, Florence brought tides to record levels. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the tide gauge at Wrightsville Beach, N.C., surged to more than four feet above normal, breaking the previous record by over a foot.

    At least 44 deaths have been attributed to Florence. The storm unleashed significant flooding that has affected thousands of people, with several river gauges either near or above record levels. Florence has created a massive environmental crisis as well -- hog waste and coal ash have leaked into flood waters, and Duke Energy now fears that coal ash may be leaking into the Cape Fear River, which is the source of drinking water for more than 60,000 people. And as with most hurricanes, lower-income and minority communities are suffering the brunt of its destruction.

    Scientists say that climate change is exacerbating some of the worst effects of hurricanes like Florence. Climate scientist Jennifer Francis of the Rutgers Climate Institute told Bloomberg:

    Warming oceans, a more rapidly warming arctic, melting ice sheets are all contributing in various way to conditions like what we’re observing now. ... It’s favoring slow moving weather patterns, more intense tropical storms and heavier downpours. And they’re all more likely as we continue to warm the Earth.

    Regarding heavier downpours, there is a growing body of work linking wetter storms to climate change. NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory notes, “Tropical cyclone rainfall rates will likely increase in the future due to anthropogenic warming and accompanying increase in atmospheric moisture content.” In the wake of Hurricane Harvey’s record-breaking rainfall, two studies concluded that climate change increased the amount of rainfall that Harvey dumped by estimates of 15 percent and 38 percent, respectively. Before Florence made landfall, a first of its kind pre-attribution study estimated that the storm's “rainfall will be significantly increased by over 50% in the heaviest precipitating parts of the storm.”

    Florence’s record storm surge was also likely worsened by climate change. According to atmospheric scientist Marshall Shepard:

    We do have higher sea level because of climate change. So whenever we have these types of storms, you’re probably dealing with a more significant storm surge because of that than you would perhaps 100 years ago.

    Broadcast networks: ABC completely dropped the ball in explaining how climate change affects hurricanes, while CBS and NBC did a little better

    Media Matters analyzed the morning, nightly, and Sunday news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC from September 7-19.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    CBS and PBS each aired fewer segments on the links between climate change and hurricanes than they did last year during coverage of Harvey. In 2017, as Hurricane Harvey menaced parts of Texas, Media Matters tracked the number of TV news segments about the hurricane that mentioned climate change. Harvey, like Florence, was the first major hurricane of the year to make landfall in the continental U.S. In comparing last year's Harvey coverage to this year's Florence coverage, we found that networks overall did a worse job of drawing links between climate change and hurricanes this year.

    During its Harvey coverage, CBS aired three segments discussing the ways that climate change influences hurricanes, but it aired just two such segments during Hurricane Florence coverage. NBC was the only network that improved its coverage: Last year, it aired zero segments mentioning the climate-hurricane connection in the context of Harvey while this year it aired one during its Florence coverage. ABC failed to air any segments mentioning climate change during coverage of either Harvey or Florence. We also analyzed weekday episodes of PBS NewsHour and found that its coverage had declined: Last year, the show aired three segments about Harvey that discussed climate change. This year, it aired only two such segments about Florence. 

    ABC was the only network that did not mention climate change in its coverage of Florence at all. ABC's failure on this score was not surprising, as the network has a history of neglecting climate change. Earlier this year, it was the only major broadcast network to make no mention of climate change in relation to the deadly heat wave that affected much of the U.S., and it spent less time last year reporting on climate change on its nightly and Sunday shows than did CBS and NBC.

    CBS aired just two segments that addressed the effects of climate change on hurricanes. Both of the segments, which ran during the September 15 episode of CBS This Morning, included strong analysis. The first mentioned Hurricane Florence in the broader context of the Global Climate Action Summit, which took place in San Francisco from September 12-14. CBS correspondent John Blackstone noted, “For activists here, Hurricane Florence provided an example of the kind of extreme weather scientists have predicted would come more often in a warming world.” The second segment immediately followed the first, and featured meteorologist Jeff Berardelli discussing how climate change can influence hurricanes:

    NBC aired just one segment that reported on the links between climate change and hurricanes. In a good segment on the September 15 episode of Today, NBC correspondent Harry Smith spoke with Adam Sobel, an atmospheric science professor at Columbia University, and Rob Freudenberg, an environmental planning expert, about how climate change affects hurricanes. Sobel said, “What we know certainly about climate change and hurricanes is that because of higher sea-level rise, the risk from storm-surge flooding is going up. And we know with a high degree of confidence that rainfall from these storms is also increasing.”

    PBS NewsHour aired only two segments that connected climate change to hurricanes. Both segments featured strong analysis from climate scientists. On the September 14 episode of PBS NewsHour, Columbia University climate scientist Radley Horton discussed how there is a “very clear link” between climate change and hurricanes. On the September 19 episode of PBS NewsHour, science correspondent Miles O’Brien looked at the science behind hurricanes, and featured several climate scientists. One of them was the University of Wisconsin’s James Kossin, who recently published a study about how tropical cyclones are slowing down due to anthropogenic warming.

    Prime-time cable: CNN and MSNBC mentioned climate change less often during Florence coverage than they did last year during Harvey

    We also analyzed prime-time, weekday shows on CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News from September 7-19. CNN and MSNBC both aired fewer segments that discussed climate change in the context of hurricanes than they did during Hurricane Harvey. Fox aired the same number as last year, but its coverage was even more dismissive of climate science now than it was in 2017.

    CNN aired two segments that discussed the links between climate change and hurricanes, down from five such segments that ran during Harvey coverage. Both of the climate mentions occured on September 11, when CNN commentators only briefly raised the topic during broader discussions. CNN Senior Political Analyst Ron Brownstein mentioned on The Situation Room with Wolf Blitzer that hurricanes are influenced by the changing climate, while CNN Political Commentator Van Jones made a similar point on Cuomo Prime Time.

    MSNBC aired four segments that discussed the links between climate change and hurricanes, down from five that ran during Harvey coverage. The September 13 episode of All In With Chris Hayes featured a substantive and informative segment with meteorologist Eric Holthaus -- the best of the prime-time cable segments we analyzed. Holthaus began the discussion by stating, “Florence is a huge hurricane. I mean, this is one of the largest hurricanes that we've ever seen in the Atlantic. And you can't really talk about this without talking about climate change.” He explained that intense rain and storm surge fueled by climate change were major components of the storm. The other MSNBC mentions of climate change occurred in the context of broader discussions: one more on the September 13 All In episode; one on the September 13 episode of Hardball with Chris Matthews; and one on the September 11 episode of The Beat with Ari Melber.

    Fox News aired six segments that mentioned climate change in its Florence coverage, but all of them were dismissive of the issue. That's slightly worse than last year during Harvey, when Fox also aired six such segments, only five of which were dismissive of the links between climate change and hurricanes.

    Of Fox’s six segments that mentioned climate change this year, two featured well-known climate deniers who disputed any connections between climate change and hurricanes: The September 13 episode of Hannity included commentary from meteorologist Joe Bastardi, and the September 14 episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight featured meteorologist Roy Spencer. In the other four Fox segments, hosts took aim at a Washington Post editorial that called President Trump complicit in extreme weather because his administration has been rolling back climate protections. Three of these attacks came from Sean Hannity -- on September 12, 13, and 14 -- and the fourth from Greg Gutfeld on September 12.

    Methodology

    Media Matters ran the search terms "(Hurricane! OR Florence) AND (climate OR warming OR emission! OR carbon OR CO2 OR greenhouse gas!)" in Nexis to identify segments between September 7 and September 19 that mentioned both the hurricane and climate change. On the broadcast networks, we examined the morning, evening, and Sunday news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC, as well as weekday episodes of PBS NewsHour. For CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News, we examined the networks’ prime-time shows that air on weekdays from 5-11 p.m.

  • Cable news coverage of a national prison strike was pathetic 

    For weeks, the major networks almost completely ignored inmates' stories and demands

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Inmates across 17 states went on strike beginning August 21, protesting abysmal prison conditions, the revocation of inmates’ rights, and exploitative labor requirements, among other issues. Inmates have few outlets to address grievances or abuses, so it’s particularly important that media organizations dedicate time to explaining strikes and the circumstances that motivate them. Unfortunately, cable news failed to offer the latest prison strike -- reportedly one of the largest in American history -- anything close to appropriate coverage.

    A Media Matters study found that cable news covered the strike for just ten and a half minutes in total. MSNBC covered the strike for less than eight minutes from August 21 through September 9, while Fox’s coverage didn’t even make it to three. CNN failed to mention the strike even once during that period.

    Fox’s coverage of the strike was limited to one edition of Fox & Friends First, and it was framed entirely around Donald Trump’s supposed support for prison reform. Co-host Jillian Mele noted that inmates were striking and then immediately said, “The president has been pushing for prison reform, and the issue has received support from both parties. So can the president get a bipartisan win?” One of the chyrons that appeared during the segment read: “Trump has pushed for prison reform.” The Department of Justice, in fact, has supported (and rewarded) the use of private prisons -- institutions that profit off of incarceration and lack almost any accountability. Under Trump, the DOJ has additionally attempted to institute harsher federal policies on marijuana in states where it is legal to use and produce and has rescinded guidances on avoiding unfair mandatory minimum sentences and not jailing poor people simply because they cannot afford court-related fees. Trump himself has suggested that drug dealers receive the death penalty, encouraged police officers to injure suspects, and refused to sign on to a Republican-crafted prison reform bill.

    MSNBC’s coverage -- which consisted almost entirely of a single segment on PoliticsNation with Al Sharpton -- featured Darren Mack, a former inmate and prison reform advocate. This segment discussed the strike leaders’ major demands, the poor treatment of inmates, and the racist origins and practices of the U.S. criminal justice system. MSNBC’s only other coverage of the strike was a passing mention on All In with Chris Hayes.

    None of the networks quoted current inmates or the leaders of the movement, whose voices are pivotal to understanding the strike and the greater reality of inmates’ lives.

    The underreported strike came two years after the largest prison strike in American history (another event that went unnoticed by mainstream outlets), and it encouraged inmates across the country to participate in work stoppages and other means of peaceful protest. This latest action was partly inspired by a brutal prison riot in South Carolina that left seven inmates dead and more than a dozen injured. Corrections officials blamed the violence at Lee Correctional Institution on a dispute over “money” and “territory,” but in an op-ed for The New York Times, historian Heather Ann Thompson reported that inmates told her corrections officials provoked the violence by housing rival gang members together. Thompson also reported that “officials’ increasingly punitive policies … exacerbated tensions on the inside.” Amani Sawari, a spokesperson for the strikers, told Vox that inmates at the Lee Correctional Institution “were placed on lockdown all day. They weren’t allowed to eat or use the bathroom. They were placed in units with rival gang members. And then their lockers were taken away, so they didn’t have any safe place to put their personal belongings, which really aggravated and caused tensions among prisoners — to the point where fights broke out, inevitably.” When the riot began, corrections officials failed to break it up, leading to the deaths of seven men.

    The violence at Lee Correctional Institution is far from an anomaly in the prison system of the United State -- the most incarcerated country in the world -- and prison activists listed “immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women” as the first of 10 demands for the strike. Other demands included the restoration of inmates’ and former inmates’ voting rights (34 states prohibit people from voting on the basis of prior convictions), better access to rehabilitative programs, an end to the racist targeting of minorities by police and prosecutors, and an “immediate end to prison slavery.”

    The term “prison slavery” refers to the exploitative practice of forcing the incarcerated to perform labor for little or no payment. Prison labor is essential to manufacturing numerous products, including blue jeans, car parts, and even military and police equipment. Just last month, the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation bragged that over 2,000 inmates had been called on to help fight the state’s devastating wildfires. They were paid $2.56 a day, plus one extra dollar per hour for dangerous and difficult labor that left at least two inmates dead. Perhaps most cruelly, even though the state has invested time and resources in developing skillful firefighters, almost no inmates are able to seek employment as a firefighter following release due to their felony convictions.

    The strike ended on Sunday, Sept. 9 -- the 47th anniversary of the 1971 Attica prison uprising. Prison activists finished with a final push to restore voting rights for people convicted of felonies. Although the results remain to be seen, the strike’s effectiveness was almost certainly undermined by the paltry coverage inmates received from cable news networks.

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched the iQ media video database’s transcript and closed-captioning archive for any instance in which the word “prison” was used within 20 words of “strike” between August 21 and September 9 on CNN, MSNBC, or Fox News.

  • An MSNBC segment on Serena Williams included only one Black commentator -- he was the only person to defend her 

    Blog ››› ››› GRACE BENNETT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    A segment on MSNBC’s Morning Joe covering Serena Williams’ loss in the U.S. Open final included commentary by three white pundits, who all criticized Williams, and a sole Black commentator, who defended her actions and argued that she set a good example for young women. The segment was a stark example of why newsroom diversity matters, and what happens when the dominant voices in the media are white ones.

    During the match, chair umpire Carlos Ramos repeatedly penalized Williams. Many in the media and on social media platforms have noted the gendered and racist nature of the violations against Williams. Some pointed out that male players have rarely been penalized for similar actions or for showing emotion on the court.

    The three white commentators on Morning Joe seemed largely unmoved by these arguments. Mike Lupica, a sports journalist, argued that Williams was “was out of line” and claimed that she had “priors at this event,” referring to past instances where Williams reacted strongly at the tournament. He also attempted to disconnect the umpire’s decisions from Williams’ race, suggesting that the violations could not have been rooted in racism because Williams’ opponent Naomi Osaka is of Japanese and Haitian descent. Co-host Joe Scarborough attempted to dismiss arguments of sexism, denying that the extreme, and often unpenalized, rants of former men's tennis player John McEnroe demonstrate that Williams was treated differently because of her gender. Instead he claimed that Williams was penalized because “the codes, a lot of the standards were changed to stop the sort of verbal abuse that John McEnroe heaped on umps.” His co-host Mika Brzezinski claimed that Williams’ behavior is not “becoming whether a man does it or a woman does it.”

    The only commentator who defended Williams’ actions was Princeton professor Eddie Glaude, who also happened to be the only Black person included in the segment. Glaude noted that the umpire’s decision was akin to “throwing Lebron James out in Game 7.” He said he understood “exactly her emotion, her anger” and argued that Williams was “absolutely justified in standing up for herself” and “point[ing] out the very gendered way in which she was responded to.” He also suggested that, “every young girl in this country who saw it should look up to her in that moment and stand up for themselves and not be disciplined by how they're supposed to behave in those moments.”

    From the September 10 edition of MSNBC’s Morning Joe:

    Glaude’s empathy for Williams, as compared to Lupica, Scarborough, and Brzezinski’s apathy, is evidence of the importance of cable programs having diverse voices, especially while discussing issues of race and gender. But, while the systemic racism and overwhelming whiteness of media is a problem for many reasons, it's also an accuracy problem:

    The absence of people of color in newsrooms and on television allows the biases of white journalists and commentators to go unchecked, resulting in reporting that often overlooks important angles, privileges one side of a story, and fails to provide necessary context to understand news events.  

    Media diversity isn't a luxury good that can be jettisoned for the sake of convenience. White newsrooms are broken newsrooms.

    Unfortunately, cable news channels have often failed to seek out diverse perspectives, and their coverage has suffered as a result.   

  • 13 critical moments of Brett Kavanaugh's Senate hearing

    Many media outlets downplayed the hearings, but they were full of newsworthy moments

    Blog ››› ››› ZACHARY PLEAT


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The two days of public questioning of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh by members of the Senate Judiciary Committee have featured explosive, important, and revealing moments -- at least when Democrats were asking the questions. However, the public may have missed these instances because the evening news shows on three major cable news channels and broadcast networks paid insufficient attention to the hearing, breaking off from it hours early or devoting more coverage to dysfunction in the Trump administration.

    According to some media reports, Republicans were confident that the hearings would go smoothly and that efforts of Kavanaugh’s opponents “failed to get serious traction” before the hearings began. Perhaps that’s because in the lead-up to the hearing, the network evening news shows barely even mentioned Kavanaugh’s name, and as the hearing continues, they are focusing much more coverage on the latest revelation of chaos in the Trump White House. And let’s not forget that Associated Press wire stories about the Supreme Court nominee in the first six weeks since Kavanaugh’s nomination featured about 50 percent more pro-Kavanaugh voices than anti-Kavanaugh voices. News organizations have been treating Kavanaugh’s nomination as an inevitable confirmation -- but some revelatory exchanges from the hearing should change that.

    Here are some of the most illuminating moments you may have missed:

    Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) repeatedly questioned Kavanaugh on his use of documents stolen from Democratic staffers when Kavanaugh worked on judicial nominations for the George W. Bush White House. He further explored whether Kavanaugh’s claim that he didn’t know the documents were stolen is believable:

    Leahy also questioned Kavanaugh over President Donald Trump’s insistence he has “the absolute right” to pardon himself of any crime:

    Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) rattled Kavanaugh by asking him whether he'd ever discussed special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation with anyone working at the law firm Kasowitz Benson Torres LLP, which was founded by Trump’s personal lawyer Marc Kasowitz:

    Harris questioned Kavanaugh on reproductive rights and pressed him to name any laws that allow the government to regulate male bodies. He could not:

    Harris also explained to Kavanaugh that a phrase he used in an op-ed, “racial spoils system,” is “commonly used by white supremacists”:

    Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-HI) exposed that Kavanaugh “disparaged the Native Hawaiian community” in an op-ed he wrote:

    Hirono highlighted Kavanaugh’s relationship to disgraced former Judge Alex Kozinski, whose behavior, according to Hirono, was “so notorious that professors began to warn female students not to apply for clerkships with him.” She questioned whether Kavanaugh knew of Kozinski’s sexual misconduct. He said he did not:

    Hirono also brought attention to Kavanaugh’s attempt to erect an unnecessary barrier to a minor immigrant obtaining an abortion:

    Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) said he hoped Kavanaugh would ask for his own hearing to be suspended in light of Republicans withholding a massive amount of documents related to Kavanaugh’s history:

    Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) challenged the farcical claim by the Republican majority that 42,000 documents released the evening before the hearing could be reviewed before the hearing started:

    Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) highlighted the role of right-wing and corporate dark money behind Kavanaugh’s nomination:

    During one of the few interesting exchanges involving a Republican senator, Kavanaugh indicated his belief that birth control medications are “abortion-inducing drugs” while being questioned by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX):

    Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) eviscerated Kavanaugh for his dodges on giving his view on Roe v. Wade:

    Unfortunately, cable news viewers missed several of these moments as the channels instead covered other topics. On September 5, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News all skipped at least five full hours of questioning. And on September 6, CNN and MSNBC stopped most of their live coverage of Kavanaugh even earlier. The media’s apathy over all the scandals and controversies surrounding the Kavanaugh nomination and confirmation process must end.

  • In 2018, Sunday shows have covered Hurricane Maria’s impact on Puerto Rico for only 20 seconds

    And since the hurricane hit, the shows have devoted a total of less than 90 minutes to the issue

    Blog ››› ››› ROB SAVILLO

    Since Hurricane Maria made landfall on Puerto Rico on September 20, 2017, the five Sunday morning political talk shows have given the disaster scant coverage.

    ABC’s This Week, CBS’ Face the Nation, CNN’s State of the Union, Fox News’ Fox News Sunday, and NBC’s Meet the Press have spent only one hour and 27 minutes discussing Hurricane Maria and its impact on Puerto Rico since September 24, 2017, but the vast majority of that coverage came shortly after the hurricane hit. In 2018, the Sunday shows have mentioned Puerto Rico for a total of just 20 seconds even as the island was dealing with power outages, revisions in the official death toll, and other ongoing recovery challenges.

    This week, The Associated Press reported that Puerto Rico Gov. Ricardo Rossello raised the official death toll from Maria from 64 to almost 3,000 based on research from the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.

    The first official death toll came a week after landfall on September 27, when Rossello announced that 16 people had lost their lives. The following week, that figure was increased to 34. Since the hurricane, various studies have put the death toll estimates anywhere from about 1,000 to 8,000.

    Puerto Rico’s recovery has been a long process, and the impact has been ongoing. What hasn’t been ongoing is the media’s focus on the island. In February, a New York Times report revealed that a FEMA contract that called for 30 million meals to be sent to Puerto Rico resulted in only 50,000 meals being delivered. This story was mostly ignored by cable and broadcast media. In May, a new study came out that found the death toll from Maria could have potentially been 72 times higher than the official count. Media were too occupied with Roseanne Barr to devote much coverage to it, and the Sunday shows entirely ignored it. In June, nine months after Maria hit, AEE Power, which provides electricity to almost 1.5 million Puerto Ricans, reported that thousands of its customers were still without power. It wasn’t until August, 11 months after the hurricane, that power was restored almost fully. That same month, the Puerto Rican government finally acknowledged a higher death toll, and the media still failed to pay much attention, with Sunday shows again ignoring the story completely.  

    Throughout all these developments, the Sunday morning political talk shows -- which have an outsized role in setting the political agenda week after week for the Washington elite -- have hardly covered this humanitarian disaster. The Sunday after Maria made landfall, only two Sunday shows even mentioned the hurricane: State of the Union for just seven seconds and Meet the Press for 24 seconds. Almost all of the Sunday shows’ coverage came the following week on October 1, 2017: This Week covered the story for about 18 minutes, Face the Nation for almost six minutes, State of the Union for approximately 19 minutes, Fox News Sunday for nearly 17 minutes, and Meet the Press for about 15 minutes. In total, the Sunday shows covered Maria for just over one hour and 15 minutes that day. Since then, they have provided only approximately 11 minutes of additional coverage -- of which, only 20 seconds has been in 2018.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Methodology

    Media Matters searched the Nexis transcript database for mentions of “Puerto Rico” or “Hurricane Maria” from September 17, 2017 -- three days before landfall -- through August 26, 2018, for the five Sunday morning political talk shows: ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, CBS’ Face the Nation with Margaret Brennan, CNN’s State of the Union with Jake Tapper, Fox News’ Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace, and NBC’s Meet the Press with Chuck Todd. We timed each teaser for an upcoming segment, passing mention, news correspondence from reporters on the ground or in studio, and guest interview or panel for coverage of Maria. We timed only relevant speech and excluded speech on other topics.

  • Video: Climate change worsens extreme weather and hurts people of color the most. When will mainstream media tell this story?

    Media severely under-covered Hurricane Maria, which affected mostly Latinx people.

    Blog ››› ››› DAYANITA RAMESH & MILES LE


    Dayanita Ramesh / Media Matters

    Thousands of people died as a result of Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico, researchers estimate, and it took 11 months to restore power to all residents. Maria was the worst weather disaster to affect Puerto Rico in 80 years and potentially the deadliest hurricane to hit the U.S. since 1900. But many news outlets failed to give much coverage to the storm and the ongoing recovery efforts.

    Why?

    Maybe because most of the victims of Hurricane Maria were people of color: 99 percent of the population of Puerto Rico is Latinx.

    Extreme weather and climate disasters have the biggest effects on people of color, the poor, and women, both in the U.S. and around the world -- and the media need to be talking about that.

    The first Sunday after Hurricane Maria made landfall, the five major Sunday political talk shows cumulatively dedicated less than one minute of coverage to the storm. When outlets did turn their coverage to Maria, it was because of the president’s antics. Coverage spiked when President Donald Trump got in a Twitter fight with the mayor of Puerto Rico's capital, San Juan, and when he visited the territory and threw paper towels out into a crowd. When the drama ended, coverage dropped significantly and has stayed low even as Puerto Rico continues struggling to recover.

    On top of this lack of coverage is the problem that many mainstream outlets don’t talk to the people who are most affected by climate change, and they also don’t talk enough to scientists or climate researchers. Only 13 percent of guests featured during climate-related segments on Sunday shows in 2017 were people of color, just 29 percent of the guests were women, and no climate scientists or journalists were featured at all -- the second year that scientists and journalists were completely excluded.

    Mainstream media outlets need to talk to the people who are being hurt the most by climate change. They also need to connect the dots between climate change and extreme weather, to help everyone understand that climate change isn’t just something that will happen in the future or in faraway places. It's happening now, and it's happening everywhere.

  • Omarosa's coverage by cable news drowned out other stories

    Cable news spent 34 hours covering the former White House aide over a 7-day period

    Blog ››› ››› LIS POWER


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    For a week now, Omarosa Manigault Newman, the former reality show star turned White House staffer turned ex-White House staffer, has been one of the main stories on cable news. Over a seven-day period, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News spent a combined 34 hours and 28 minutes covering Manigault Newman and news generated by her. And while some of the allegations she has put forth are certainly newsworthy, the extent to which the obsessive Manigault Newman coverage drowned out major stories of national interest is staggering.

    Coverage of Manigault Newman started to kick into high gear last week when it was reported that she might have tapes from her time in President Donald Trump’s White House. What started as a slow trickle of coverage on Thursday by both CNN and MSNBC turned into a monsoon of coverage by all three cable networks as Manigault Newman began sitting down for interviews to promote her new book and made public some tapes to back up allegations made in her book. During the same time period, stories of arguably more importance received significantly less coverage.

    Media Matters tracked the amount of time devoted to coverage of Manigault Newman between August 9 through August 15. Additionally, we tracked the coverage of four other stories throughout that time period: reporting that three of President Donald Trump’s "Mar-a-Lago buddies are secretly running the V.A.”; Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson’s attempt to roll back an Obama-era rule aimed at curbing housing segregation; any reporting about Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, whose confirmation hearings have been scheduled even though many of his records are still not public; and the ongoing family separation crisis in which the most recent numbers show that over 500 immigrant children are still separated from their families.

    From August 9 through August 15, Manigault Newman received over 34 hours of coverage on the three cable news networks combined. MSNBC, which got a package deal of interviews with the former White House staffer, had the most coverage, spending nearly 16 hours discussing or interviewing her. CNN was next, with 13 hours of coverage, and Fox News devoted just over five and a half hours of programming to discussing Manigault Newman.


    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    While the three cable networks covered Manigault Newman for over 34 hours in total, the four other stories combined received just three hours of coverage.

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    Discussions about Kavanaugh, the nominee for the Supreme Court, amassed under two hours of coverage across the cable networks between August 9 through August 15. Fox News had the most coverage, with nearly an hour devoted to Kavanaugh. MSNBC spent nearly 40 minutes on Kavanaugh while CNN covered Kavanaugh for just over 10 minutes. This Supreme Court vacancy will have dramatic and lasting impacts on America, but it was barely able to break through the coverage of Manigault Newman.

    The ongoing family separation crisis received just over one hour of coverage in the same time period. MSNBC devoted 45 minutes of coverage to the crisis, CNN spent 18 minutes discussing the separated children, and Fox News gave just five minutes to family separation.

    New reports that were just coming out about the goings-on of the Trump administration and cronyism were almost completely lost in the Manigault Newman news. The story about three of Trump’s buddies from Mar-a-Lago (Bruce Moskowitz, a doctor; Ike Perlmutter, the chairman of Marvel Entertainment; and Marc Sherman, an attorney) essentially dictating policy for the Department of Veterans Affairs received just seven minutes of coverage between CNN and MSNBC combined. Fox News didn’t even mention it. Even worse, the story about HUD trying to roll back policy that aims to prevent housing segregation received only 23 seconds of coverage across the three cable networks.

    Here’s how the coverage of the stories broke down on each network:

    Tyler Monroe, Sanam Malik, Grace Bennett, Gabby Miller, Shelby Jamerson, and Zach Pleat contributed to this research.

    Methodology:

    Media Matters searched the Snapstream video database from August 9, 2018, to August 15, 2018, looking at  the three major cable news networks -- CNN, Fox News Channel, and MSNBC -- for five competitive stories that broke or had significant updates at the beginning of the period studied:

    1. Omarosa Manigault Newman’s new book and secret-tape revelations about President Donald Trump
    2. Announcement of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh’s Senate confirmation hearings
    3. The Trump administration’s zero-tolerance policy of separating parents and children at the southern border
    4. The Trump administration’s intent to change the Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule that fights segregation in housing
    5. The revelations that three Mar-a-Lago club members are effectively directing policy at the Department of Veterans Affairs.

    For the first story, Media Matters searched for mentions of “Omarosa,” including misspellings. For the second story, we searched for “Kavanaugh” (including misspellings) or “Supreme Court” within close proximity to “nominate,” “nominated,” “nominee,” or “justice.” For the third story, we searched for variations of “immigration,” “immigrant,” “children,” “family,” “parents,” “kids,” or “border” within proximity to variations of “reunited,” “reunify,” and “separate.” For the fourth story, we searched for “Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing,” “Fair Housing Act,” “Housing and Urban Development,” “HUD,” “Carson,” or “housing” within close proximity to “segregation.” For the final story, we searched for “Moskowitz” within close proximity to “Bruce” or “doctor,” “Perlmutter” within close proximity to “Ike” or “Marvel,” “Sherman” within close proximity to “Marc” or “lawyer,” “President” within close proximity to “club,” “Veteran’s Affairs,” or  variations of “V.A.”

    For each transcript found, we timed only the relevant speech for each story. We included all mentions, teases, segments, panels, and interviews that fully or partially touched on any of these five stories, including during shows that were being reaired.