MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes tweeted Tuesday that covering stories about climate change is a "palpable ratings killer" for news shows.
Hayes's admission came when he shared a thread on Twitter about how climate change is making natural disasters like wildfires worse.
"Read this thread. The disaster continues to come for us…" Hayes tweeted.
The tweet sparked criticism toward Hayes for not covering the topic more on his own cable news show. Freelance writer Elon Green replied to Haye's tweet saying, "Sure would be nice if our news network—the only outlets that can force change in this country—would cover it with commensurate urgency. Acting as if there's nothing to be done is not excusable."
Hayes responded to the criticism by saying climate change stories are a "palpable ratings killer."
"[A]lmost without exception. every single time we've covered it's been a palpable ratings killer. so the incentives are not great," Hayes responded.
Numerous reporters and environmentalists responded to Hayes. Some expressed anger at the MSNBC host for worrying more about the bottom line than the "existential threat to human existence."
I wish you'd say this on the air, because I'm sure it's a similar calculation on the part of CNN, etc. I think viewers are owed the truth: that news networks won't cover the story that matters most because of the bottom line.
— Stagger Lee Shot First (@elongreen) July 24, 2018
I understand that climate change can be a ratings killer but it's an existential threat to human existence so maybe the goal should be to figure out how to cover it effectively?
— Kendra "Gloom is My Beat" Pierre-Louis (@KendraWrites) July 24, 2018
or maybe there are better, more engaging ways to cover climate that cable news just haven't hit on yet
— Brian L Kahn (@blkahn) July 24, 2018
You want a compelling, lively and popular climate story, @chrislhayes? I'll happily share one with you. You have to look locally and think about solutions, not just nebulous global problems. Here's something we just did with @NewsHour and @pnj in Florida. https://t.co/QrOmAESsk5
— John Upton (@johnupton) July 24, 2018
"Bad for ratings" is a bullshit excuse that attempts to excuse the fact that broadcast networks silence on climate change is frankly making them complicit in the death of millions. Sometimes you do the story because it's necessary not because it's popular.
— Erin Biba (@erinbiba) July 24, 2018
Climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe claimed that she was invited to be a guest on Hayes' show twice but both times her appearance was cancelled.
So two times they’ve asked me, the first time I was literally in the studio w the earpiece in my ear, the second time I was pulling into the parking lot, and they canceled on me last minute both times. No other org has ever done that so now I am sad to say I just have to decline.
— Katharine Hayhoe (@KHayhoe) July 24, 2018
Hayes appeared to be unaware the cancelations occurred and apologized to Hayhoe.
In past elections, polls showed climate change was not a top priority for most voters.