In a report released Thursday, Media Matters analyzed how the major news networks—ABC, CBS, Fox News, and NBC—covered climate change on their Sunday and evening news casts in 2016. The results are pretty grim: Compared to 2015, the networks collectively decreased the time devoted to climate issues by 66 percent.
It’s not like there was nothing for these networks to cover, either. In 2016, the U.S. entered into the Paris Climate Agreement, the landmark 200-nation agreement to keep the world from warming more than 2 degrees Celsius. NOAA and NASA announced their findings that 2015 was the hottest year on record. Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders squared off during the Democratic primary on numerous climate-related issues, like how to revitalize coal country, the Clean Power Plan, and fracking. And then there was the presidential election, in which the U.S. elected its first unabashed climate denier candidate.
Speaking of Bernie Sanders, Media Matters also found that he was a far more frequent source of climate change news than all of the network news Sunday shows combined.
The most likely explanation for this is that, in 2016, the TV news networks largely focused on Trump—Trump’s speeches, Trump’s election, Trump’s empty podiums. And Trump, of course, does not talk about climate change, because he doesn’t think it’s real or problematic. Now that he’s president, Trump is ignoring climate change in even more consequential ways—by choosing a climate denier to lead the EPA, and by proposing to stop funding any effort to fight it. Clearly, the Trump administration would like the media to ignore climate change. It should not give him what he wants.