On Monday climate activists interrupted a taping of ABC’s daytime talk show, The View, with Senator Ted Cruz — but they weren’t just there to protest the Texas Republican.
Alice Hu, a climate campaigner with the activist group New York Communities for Change (NYCC), stood up in the audience during the taping and criticized the network’s coverage of the climate crisis, which she feels is insufficient.
“ABC needs to cover climate change more instead of platforming a climate denier like Ted Cruz,” she can be heard saying in the video.
The protesters were chastised by The View host Whoopi Goldberg, who said “Let us do our job”. They were eventually escorted out of the audience.
Ms Hu told The Independent that media coverage of the climate crisis is vitally important — and often does not reach the standards she’d like to see.
“How can somebody be aware of the true extent of an issue if they’re not even hearing about it from the news that they consume?” she said.
“Climate change is one of, if not the biggest story of our times,” Ms Hu said. “And the sort of half-hearted, sad reporting that they’re doing is not meeting the moment.”
During the protest, The View host Sunny Hostin noted on-air that they do cover the climate crisis.
But in the audience, Ms Hu claimed that ABC spent less than six hours covering the climate crisis last year. She told The Independent that this figure comes from the left-leaning, non-profit media watchdog Media Matters for America (MMFA).
In a report this March, MMFA said that ABC spent 323 minutes in 2021 — roughly five and a half hours — discussing the climate crisis on morning, evening and Sunday shows.
That compares to roughly 6.5 hours at NBC and roughly 9.5 hours at CBS, the report says. In total, ABC, NBC, CBS and FOX spent about 22 hours discussing the climate crisis, making up slightly more than 1 per cent of all coverage on these shows, it added.
The Independent has reached out to the four networks for comment on the report. The Independent has also reached out to a representative for Senator Cruz for comment on Monday’s protest.
A representative for The View told The Independent that three audience members were protesting on climate and were escorted out by security.
In 2021, the networks had significantly more climate coverage than in 2020, according to the MMFA report. But Ms Hu said that some media coverage was still missing opportunities.
This summer — as the US saw extreme weather like heatwaves, floods and droughts — ABC News didn’t always “connect the dots” between those events and the climate crisis or the fossil fuels that are largely responsible for the climate crisis, she said.
The United Nations leading climate science panel has said that as the planet continues to heat up, these kinds of extreme weather events will likely become more common and more severe.
An increasing number of climate attribution studies have also found that the climate crisis contributed to the likelihood or severity of individual weather events like storms or heatwaves. This summer’s droughts in North America were made 20 times more likely because of global heating, for example.
“The climate crisis has reached a point where it’s very clear that politely asking through petitions and voting for certain candidates, and so on, is not enough to stop the rapid climate collapse that we’re experiencing throughout the world,” Ms Hu said.
“For us, the media is a hugely important pillar in society to move and to sort of galvanise to cover climate change more,” she added.