Tomorrow, MSNBC host Chris Hayes is hosting an hour-long primetime special about the urgent need to meet the climate crisis head on.
This is welcome, but not unprecedented.
Meet the Press devoted its final program of 2018 to climate. That episode came nearly five months after The New York Times Magazine’s Twitter handle teased out this message, “On August 1, our entire magazine will contain one single story: Thirty years ago we had a chance to save the planet. We could have fixed climate change. We failed to act.”
These moments of climate immersion by media influencers like Meet the Press and The New York Times – and now Chris Hayes – are significant, but the public also needs a steady diet of climate news and commentary to grapple with the magnitude of this crisis and learn about the solutions.
Chris Hayes has been stepping up his climate coverage. We are calling on him to take an even bigger step: cover the climate crisis every week.
All in on Climate?
On July 24, Chris Hayes, in response to a tweet calling out news networks’ failure to connect climate and extreme weather events, tweeted that climate change is a “palpable ratings killer” for news shows.
The comment ignited a flurry of retorts and challenges, including from climate journalist Eric Holthaus, who pointed out that a climate piece he wrote for Rolling Stone “was the most-shared in its history.”
In response, and to Hayes’ credit, his show, All in with Chris Hayes, has featured more segments on climate and mentions of climate since then.
He even dedicated an entire podcast episode to the “ratings killer” challenge:
In the past 24 months, climate change has been mentioned or featured on 80 episodes of All In. Thirty-eight, or nearly half, of those instances have occurred in the last eight months (since the end of July).
In March 2019 alone, Hayes has mentioned or featured climate change in seven episodes, including in lengthy discussions about the climate crisis and solutions with author David Wallace-Wells, presidential candidate and Washington Governor Jay Inslee, and Senator Ed Markey.
Hayes is the only MSNBC host to have connected the recent, tragic flooding in the Midwest U.S. to the climate crisis:
[E]normous swaths of the Midwest are underwater after massive flooding…snapshots of our new normal in the era of climate change, which most models show will produce more and more extreme weather events.
Among his peers on MSNBC, he ranks first on mentioning climate change on his programing during that same 24-month period.
It’s clear that Hayes is covering key climate moments and connecting extreme weather to our increasingly warming world. No doubt.
But when looking just at segments on climate or significant discussion on climate, the numbers drop by almost half to just 45 segments in the past two years.
Looked at another way, although Hayes has rightly called climate change “the single most important issue we face, probably the most important issue in the history of civilization,” he has featured a segment on climate during just 32 of the past 106 weeks. Seventy-four of the past 106 weeks have gone by without Hayes focusing any segment on climate.
An issue of this magnitude – on which civilization hinges – merits more consistent coverage.
The BBC thinks so.
In late September, BBC editor Jo Floto announced that the network’s flagship programs, The World Tonight on BBC Radio 4 and Newshour on BBC World Service, would begin covering climate change every week.
MSNBC and Chris Hayes are well positioned to be the first network and anchor in the US to make that pledge: Cover climate change every week.
Chris Hayes cares about this issue. He gets it. He is covering it better than most and, on top of that, he’s also been improving recently. We want him to go further. We want him to go all in on climate.
Tune in tomorrow for the “All In with Chris Hayes” climate special at 8 p.m. Eastern on MSNBC.