Hulu Almost Blocks Ads That Mention Climate Change

Hulu Almost Blocks Ads That Mention Climate Change

Streaming giant Hulu, a Disney affiliate, has historically avoided running ads that could be deemed too "controversial,” particularly ads that include anything about abortion rights, gun control, and climate change. In mid-July, for instance, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee (DSCC), Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee (DCCC), and Democratic Governors Association (DGA) tried to purchase ads about abortion rights and gun legislation, but they never ran. But now, Hulu is caving in to pressure from Democrats, and plans to end the restriction on issue-based ads.

Thom Hartmann Program: Who is Censoring Democratic Talking Points?, July 26, 2022.

Initially censored by Hulu (and Disney) was a campaign ad for Suraj Patel, a Democratic Congressional candidate from New York. Patel was eventually able to run the ad after the Washington Post ran an article about the media giants’ C-level executives requesting cuts and edits to his campaign messaging. Such cuts included removing footage from the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol and swapping the words “climate change” for "democracy.”

"To not discuss these topics in my campaign ad is to not address the most important issues facing the United States,” Patel wrote in a letter of protest against the services. “Your ban on mobilization messaging has a perverse effect on Democracy.”

MSNBC: Chris Hayes | We Must Pay Attention To ‘Urgent Crisis’ Of Extreme Heat Events, May 23, 2022.

NBC: Heat Wave Worsens As 75 Million Americans Are Under Alerts, July 22, 2022.

MSNBC: Climate Change Is Our Greatest Existential Threat, January 3, 2022.

Why This Matters

Americans, and especially younger voters, tend to consume media via streaming services like Hulu. So, with nearly 46 million paid subscribers, censorship is a powerful tool, and the upcoming midterm elections are crucial, particularly concerning the climate. Many experts believe November’s outcome will determine whether the Biden Administration will be able to pass its sweeping climate policies, which are necessary for the US to meet its commitments set by the Paris Agreement.

Hulu’s treatment of climate change as a "controversial issue” is especially troubling when it seems that most of the country has already made up its mind. More than 99.9% of peer-reviewed studies show that climate change is real and has been predominantly human-caused with the help of fossil fuels. Further, around 66% of Americans believe climate change is caused by human activities, and 69% are in favor of expanding wind and solar energy.

Even Republican voters are on board, especially younger ones. According to a new Gallup poll, 34% of Republicans between the ages of 18 to 34 say they worry "a great deal” about environmental issues like climate change.

CBS: Senator Kamala Harris questions Amy Coney Barrett on climate change, October 16, 2020.

MSNBC: Republicans Need To Wake Up To Climate Crisis | Zerlina, July 21, 2022.

Now This: How the GOP Has Changed on Climate Change, July 16, 2021.

Can Big Tech Crack Down on Fake News?

In a recent UN report, the US demonstrated a stronger link between climate skepticism and conspiratorial and conservative ideology than any other nation included in the study.

Tech and social media companies play a huge role in spreading misinformation. A recent report found that misleading information about climate change was flourishing, even though tech companies have pledged to flag and remove misinformation on their platforms.

For example, NASA just "debunked” a widely-spread claim made in a July 6 Facebook post. The post used a 2019 NASA study to "prove” the agency “admits” climate change is not caused by human activity. The post misconstrued the study’s findings and blatantly ignored the fact NASA has repeatedly declared modern climate change to be caused by burning fossil fuels and other human activity. Meanwhile, Dinesh D’Souza has been busy on Twitter, disseminating common climate-denial talking points to his audience of 2.4 million followers.

TED: Journalism in School to Combat Fake News | Boris van der Spek, March 30, 2022.

CNBC: Former President Obama speaks on disinformation's threat to democracy, April 21, 2022.

DW: How dangerous is Big Tech?, April 17, 2021.