Reprinted with permission from MediaMatters
Five Sunday news shows failed to cover the fires being set in the Amazon rainforest, even as the rate of fires and deforestation have surpassed those of previous years. The ecological disaster received only a fleeting mention when a guest on the panel of ABC’s This Week mentioned the fires.
The current fires are burning at the highest rate in the past six years. Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research has recorded more than 36,000 fires in the Amazon region of Brazil since the beginning of 2019. And according to the institute, deforestation in the region has increased 80 percent compared to last year.
The vast majority of the fires are being deliberately set by farmers and ranchers in Brazil to clear ground for their use, according to the non-profit Amazon Watch and the National Institute for Space Research. The Washington Post explained that the Amazon “serves as the lungs of the planet by taking in carbon dioxide,” and the European Union’s Copernicus Climate Change Service is warning that “the fires have led to a clear spike in carbon monoxide emissions as well as planet-warming carbon dioxide emissions, posing a threat to human health and aggravating global warming.” If this continues, a catastrophic system collapse known as dieback could occur, leading to even more droughts, floods, and wildfires. One scientist says that the impact of that collapse would be felt as far away as the United States midwest.
Such a serious matter to the entire world’s population deserves appropriate coverage from the news media, yet CNN’s State of the Union, CBS’ Face the Nation, NBC’s Meet the Press, and Fox Broadcasting Co.’s Fox News Sunday completely ignored the burning of the Amazon, according to a review of Sunday show news transcripts. On ABC’s This Week, the topic only came up when panelist Yvette Simpson mentioned that “the Amazon is on fire” this week, to which anchor George Stephanopoulos replied that “you make a good point about the Amazon.” Stephanopoulos then moved on to a discussion of whether Democrats could make big proposals in the face of a potential recession.
It’s not just the Sunday shows that are failing to provide appropriate coverage of the Amazon fires. A Media Matters analysis of the past week’s cable news coverage found that it received approximately 7 percent of the coverage the Notre Dame Cathedral fire in Paris received over a similar time period.