CNN defended its decision to include teenage climate change activist Greta Thunberg in its coronavirus town hall this past week. The network claimed that it invited Thunberg to participate due to her global activism, not because she was an expert in infectious diseases.
CNN headlined Thunberg’s town hall participation, “Greta Thunberg: ‘Our actions can be the difference between life and death for many others.’” The article focused on Thunberg’s pleas to the public to follow scientists’ advice to self-isolate and to remember to protect children during the pandemic.
The cable news network defended its decision to invite Thunberg at the end of the article.
“Thunberg’s appearance on CNN’s Coronavirus Town Hall drew criticism from some, who accused her of not being an expert on the virus,” CNN wrote. “However, the teen herself clarified on Twitter that she was never appearing as an expert nor is she one,” it added. “Rather, she is an activist with a large following of young people and is trying to shine a light on the impact this virus will have on future generations.”
CNN did invite medical experts, such as former acting CDC director Richard Besser and former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, to participate. But Thunberg’s inclusion created the optics that CNN sought to inject climate change politics into the town hall discussion instead of focusing on the coronavirus.
CNN should have invited an activist from the other side of the political aisle if it were treating the town hall event as a neutral, nonpartisan event.
Accuracy in Media highlighted CNN’s misstep and criticized the network for the optics of inviting Thunberg to their coronavirus town hall event.
Photo by European Parliament