Vox Argues The Media’s Coverage of the GND Lacks Substance

By Yoel Fessahaye and Monica Medina

The Green New Deal has been the subject of an avalanche of media coverage.  But other than the bumper sticker labels that have been applied to it — Socialism, Communism, Unrealistic, Infeasible, Unaffordable — what exactly is it?  That is the $64 trillion dollar question. Even the Chair of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Lisa Murkowski, is in the dark — yesterday she said at the energy industry’s big annual meeting, “I want to know, so what is the plan? What is the proposal? How are we going to get there to a point where my community is not in peril?”  The folks at Vox agree — they are airing a new series called “Strikethrough,” which explores the challenges facing the news media in the age of Trump. And they made a video that ruthlessly dissects why the media’s coverage of the Green New Deal is actually preventing the public from learning what it is. 

  • Media outlets have been focusing on the political ramifications of the GND, while neglecting to report on the actual policies within the bill.
  • This approach to news coverage is known as “tactical framing” — a phrase coined by Kathleen Hall Jamieson, the Director of U. Penn’s Annenberg Public Policy Center, and an expert on politics and the media. 
  • As Jamieson explains, tactical framing emphasizes strategy over substance, often focusing on the players and the implications of the policy on their political career and party — not the policy itself or its capacity to solve problems.

Worse yet, Jamieson’s research reveals that this style of news reporting is having a real negative effect on our politics — causing new policies like the Green New Deal to stall out before they can gain public support.  Jamieson argues that today’s media coverage and its emphasis on conflict and strategy is making audiences at home more cynical and less informed about big policy ideas — we see ideas only through our partisan lenses.  According to Vox, “the result [of tactical framing] is a cycle of partisanship, where solutions to big problems like climate change are judged on their political popularity rather than their merit.” Tactical framing most likely fosters the spread of misinformation (aka fake news) as well since people are more susceptible to false or exaggerated statements when they don’t have a proper understanding of a proposal.

Why This Matters:  If we cannot have a real public debate about proposals like the Green New Deal because the media is stifling the substance, then it will be hard to fix what is broken in government.  The stakes are so high.  When it comes to the GND, the future of our planet, our national security, and our economic prosperity are all at stake.  We started ODP for this very reason — to change the conversation about conservation.  That is more important now than ever.

To Go Deeper: ICYMI, we did a short and sweet summary of the Green New Deal Resolution back in early February — to get smart fast on the substance of the GND, just click here.

Up Next

How Climate Change Could Affect Germany’s Elections

How Climate Change Could Affect Germany’s Elections

By Ashira Morris, ODP Staff Writer Earlier this month, devastating floods washed through western Germany, leaving people dead and swaths of cities destroyed. It was the worst flooding Central Europe has seen in decades, and the short, intense rainfall is “one of the hallmark manifestations of a human-warmed climate,” as Yale Climate Connections put it. […]

Continue Reading 537 words
Carbon Border Taxes Face Debate, Unjust or Necessary?

Carbon Border Taxes Face Debate, Unjust or Necessary?


by Amy Lupica, ODP Staff Writer Carbon border taxes are gaining popularity in North America and Europe, but many are skeptical that taxing imports from countries with weak emissions policies will encourage climate action. Others are calling border taxes unjust. John Kerry, the U.S. Climate Envoy, called border tax policies a “last resort.” Nevertheless, Congressional Democrats have already proposed one […]

Continue Reading 575 words

Brad Paisley’s Shark Country Rocks The Deep Blue


While those of us in the conservation community believe every week should be shark week, this one in particular marks the Discovery Channel’s annual Shark Week. Each year brings jaw-some programming that allows audiences to learn more about these incredible animals that play a pivotal role in keeping our oceans healthy, often with celebrities partaking […]

Continue Reading 287 words

Want the planet in your inbox?

Subscribe to the email that top lawmakers, renowned scientists, and thousands of concerned citizens turn to each morning for the latest environmental news and analysis.