A new analysis by one of the nation's top public interest advocacy groups shows that even as the planet and humanity face an existential threat due to the climate crisis, most corporate media outlets in the U.S. have largely ignored the urgent need for a Green New Deal and the growing political movement demanding it.
Following the midterm elections in November, the youth-led Sunrise Movement flooded congressional offices and demanded that representatives back a Green New Deal and the creation of a House select committee that would be tasked with drafting legislation to create one, successfully convincing 45 members of Congress to support the proposal.
But despite the energy behind the plan, 82 percent of Americans in a Yale/George Mason poll said they had never heard of the Green New Deal, and researchers behind the new Public Citizen study are blaming corporate news networks for failing to educate the public about the proposal.
Between Nov. 1 to Dec. 28 of last year, according to the group's new study, major news networks barely covered the Green New Deal—and the majority of TV coverage was from Fox News. The network covered the plan in a negative light in eight segments, warning viewers that the Green New Deal could lead to the kinds of violent protests that France has seen in recent months from the Yellow Vest movement and that the plan would lead to higher taxes for middle- and lower-class Americans.
"Climate change is one of the most urgent and terrible threats that humanity faces, and polls show that most Americans are concerned about it and a strong bipartisan majority supports solutions. It would be much easier to win those solutions if media outlets would give it the coverage that it merits." —David Arkush, Public CitizenABC News ran just one segment on the plan, while MSNBC ran three. CNN never mentioned the Green New Deal in its November and December coverage, according to Public Citizen.
"The surge of interest in a Green New Deal was one of the most significant climate change stories of 2018, and many media outlets gave it little or no attention," said David Arkush, managing director of Public Citizen's Climate Program.
In the digital news world, Politico published 33 stories about the Green New Deal, but the conservative Daily Caller was right behind them with 32, with headlines calling the plan "indirect taxation" and warning that the name is "another way of saying new taxes."
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), one of the plan's biggest supporters, has suggested that the Green New Deal should be funded with far higher taxes for the wealthiest Americans—not for middle-class families.
Americans who have managed to get information about the proposal have overwhelmingly expressed approval, with 81 percent of registered voters reporting in the Yale/George Mason poll that they support the plan.
Americans also strongly support the principles within the Green New Deal, with 70 percent of respondents telling a market research firm before the Sunrise Movement began lobbying representatives that they supported moving to a 100 percent renewable energy economy.
"Climate change is one of the most urgent and terrible threats that humanity faces, and polls show that most Americans are concerned about it and a strong bipartisan majority supports solutions," Arkush said. "It would be much easier to win those solutions if media outlets would give it the coverage that it merits."
Public Citizen argued that the corporate media's silence on the Green New Deal Public Citizen argued that the corporate media's silence on the Green New Deal had a serious and negative impact on ability of the plan's backers to keep the pressure on lawmakers.
"Advocates were fighting on a tilted playing field," the report found. "If media coverage had been better, the effort to create the Select Committee may have been more successful."
However, "proponents of a Green New Deal, or solving the climate crisis by other means, certainly are not giving up," added the group. "Media outlets will have plenty of chances to do better going forward, and they should resolve to do so. The climate crisis is far too urgent and severe to ignore."