Kasie Hunt | Media Matters for America

Kasie Hunt

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  • Nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC have virtually ignored the Green New Deal this year

    The most ambitious climate plan ever proposed in Congress got just one passing mention on a nightly news show

    Blog ››› ››› TED MACDONALD

    Melissa Joskow / Media Matters

    The Green New Deal has been one of the most important climate stories so far in 2019, but the major broadcast nightly news shows have given it virtually no coverage.

    Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) and Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA) unveiled the plan in February. The Senate held a vote -- albeit a sham vote -- on the proposal in March. Six Democratic presidential candidates are co-sponsors of the deal, while three others support it, and they have been talking about it on the campaign trail, helping to turn climate change into a major campaign issue. The Green New Deal was discussed during the first round of primary debates in late June. President Donald Trump has criticized the plan since it was released, including during a recent speech. And the Sunrise Movement and other grassroots groups have made the Green New Deal a priority, galvanizing a new generation of climate activists.

    All of the energy and action around the Green New Deal has led to an uptick in media coverage of the climate crisis this year, though it still falls short of the quantity and quality of coverage we should be seeing. Prime-time cable news shows have covered the proposal, including in a special event MSNBC’s Chris Hayes hosted with Ocasio-Cortez specifically to discuss the plan. However, Fox has covered it much more often than CNN and MSNBC, and much more poorly.

    Despite the uptick in media coverage, broadcast nightly news has failed to cover the Green New Deal

    But while many other news outlets have covered the Green New Deal, the major broadcast networks’ nightly news shows have been virtually silent on it. The nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC aired no segments about the Green New Deal from January 1 to July 8, and made only one passing mention of it. The nightly news shows also failed to cover the proposal in November and December of 2018, according to Public Citizen.

    The only passing mention this year occurred on the March 7 episode of NBC Nightly News, and it had nothing to do with climate change. It came in a segment about allegations of anti-Semitism made against Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and a fight between progressive and moderate Democrats. After citing Ocasio-Cortez’s support for Omar and denunciation of anti-Muslim hate, reporter Kasie Hunt stated, “This conflict between younger, progressive Democrats and leadership could get even more intense over issues like the Green New Deal and impeachment.” This type of framing for Green New Deal references is common, unfortunately. Media outlets often frame discussions of the plan in narrow, political ways, emphasizing political divisions and neglecting or even completely ignoring the climate crisis that the plan is intended to address.

    The broadcast nightly news shows’ failure to cover the Green New Deal is not surprising. The programs have a terrible record when it comes to covering climate change. In 2018, the major nightly news shows on ABC, CBS, and NBC spent only 55 combined minutes reporting on the climate crisis -- a 66% decrease from 2017. And when they do air climate coverage, they usually don't cover policy plans or actions to address the problem. In 2017 and 2018, less than 19% of the climate segments on broadcast networks’ nightly news shows and Sunday morning shows even mentioned potential solutions.

    These are pitiful figures at a time when growing numbers of Americans are recognizing that climate change poses a massive existential crisis. The nightly news shows’ neglect of one of the biggest climate change stories in the first half of 2019 is a dereliction of their duty to report the news. The broadcast nightly news programs still have big audiences; they average close to 27 million viewers per weeknight. They should be keeping these viewers informed about the climate crisis and major proposed plans to tackle it.


    Media Matters searched the Nexis database for transcripts of ABC’s World News Tonight, CBS’ Evening News, and NBC’s Nightly News containing the phrase "Green New Deal" between January 1 and July 8, 2019.

  • MSNBC’s Elise Jordan faceplants while trying to find a silver lining in CBO’s new Trumpcare score

    The House-passed health care bill is arguably worse than the disaster from two months ago

    Blog ››› ››› CRAIG HARRINGTON

    The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released another estimate of the budgetary and insurance market impacts likely to stem from the American Health Care Act (AHCA) if the version passed earlier this month by House Republicans becomes law. The score was arguably worse than a gruesome estimate first published on March 13, a fact seemingly lost on MSNBC conservative commentator Elise Jordan, who tried to defend the bill and failed.

    On the May 24 edition of MSNBC’s Deadline: White House, correspondent Kasie Hunt spent several minutes detailing the CBO estimate released just minutes earlier, noting that AHCA was estimated to reduce federal deficits by $119 billion through 2026 at the cost of increasing the uninsured population by 23 million. Hunt added that the CBO believes people living with preexisting health conditions would be “ultimately unable to purchase health insurance at premiums that are about what they face under current law” if they lived in states that use a waiver of these existing patient protections built into the AHCA.

    After Hunt concluded her segment by pointing out that the new CBO projections are not “dramatically different” than previous economic estimates, host Nicolle Wallace turned to a panel of guests to discuss possible political fallout for a bill that was already polling as low as 17 percent. Political analyst Dr. Jason Johnson predicted that the health care legislation would prove to be “a death knell for the midterm elections” before Jordan claimed the CBO estimate was “actually better than I expected” because “they do have a substantial savings of $119 billion, and it wasn’t looking that way in previous estimates of the prior plan.” Jordan pitched this report as proof that GOP-led health care reform could at least reduce government spending even if it couldn’t increase insurance coverage.

    Unfortunately for Jordan, she is not convincing anyone. In its March 13 estimate, the CBO predicted the AHCA would kick 24 million people off their health insurance over ten years and reduce deficits by $337 billion. A March 23 estimate also found that a new amendment to AHCA would reduce deficits by $150 billion while still kicking 24 million people off insurance. The May 24 estimate of the version of the AHCA actually passed by the House contains by far the least deficit reduction (just $119 billion over ten years) but still predicts almost the same number of insurance losses.

    More importantly, Jordan is egregiously exaggerating the significance of deficit reductions stemming from the bill. According to the CBO, the U.S. federal government will spend $49.9 trillion through 2026 and accumulate $8.6 trillion in additional deficit under current law, meaning the AHCA results in a meager deficit reduction of just 1.4 percent -- in exchange for virtually doubling the number of uninsured.

    Watch the full segment here:

    *This blog has been updated to clarify the AHCA's impact on long-term federal deficits.

  • What The Media Ignore When They Call Gorsuch "Mainstream"

    ››› ››› JULIE ALDERMAN

    Some media have called President Donald Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, District Court Judge Neil Gorsuch, “relatively mainstream.” But this label is misleading -- if Trump’s nominee is a “mainstream” conservative judge, it is only because conservative legal thought has shifted to the far right, as The New York Times’ Linda Greenhouse explained. That shift is also reflected in the extreme anti-choice and anti-LGBTQ “originalist” decisions Gorsuch has issued, which have radical impacts that some in the media have downplayed.