MSNBC anchor Chuck Todd admitted Thursday there’s an “institutional bias” in the media against Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Scott Pruitt.
Todd told conservative talk show host Hugh Hewitt “there is an institutional bias on environmental issues towards climate science and things like that” regarding Pruitt. He agreed with Hewitt that the “bias” puts reporters on the attack against the EPA head.
“So that is perceived as an ideological bias,” Todd said on Thursday morning. “So I think that there is an institutional bias when it comes to some of these science studies and things like that on the climate.
“So I think it automatically puts him sort of on the defensive,” Todd told Hewitt, whose son works for Pruitt at EPA.
Pruitt is one of the more controversial Trump administration officials, sparking heavy resistance from Democrats and environmentalists since his nomination. Activists and politicians labelled him “Polluting Pruitt” and the attacks have not ceased since.
More recently, Pruitt’s travel and security spending have garnered criticism. A series of reports have criticized Pruitt’s use of first-class travel over security reasons and purchasing a $43,000 secure phone line to the White House.
Focus on Pruitt’s air travel became more intense in the wake of former Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price’s frequent use of chartered flights for officials business. EPA’s inspector general is investigating Pruitt’s air travel. Pruitt recently said he would fly coach.
However, Pruitt has been under more intense press scrutiny than his predecessors. Former EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy also flew first-class on an international flight, but no one in the media seemed to care then.
Here’s the entire exchange between Todd and Hewitt regarding Pruitt:
HH: Now let’s talk for a second, the big rumor of the morning is Scott Pruitt to Justice. I always tell people he’s my friend. My son works at EPA. I want to get that out there. I kind of throw a flag on the media here. Ever since Joy Reid and I were doing the Washington University debate, and a nut menaced her, and I mean, I was going to be the last line of defense, which is no defense at all, because I’m old, slow and not very good. But this nut just got in her face. And it was really scary. And so they fly him in first class. They put in the cybersecurity things they have to do, and the media goes all over him and they say he’s on thin ice. But in fact, the President’s talking to him about being the AG.
HH: Do you think that the media has gone so anti-Trump that they’re amplifying things like Scott Pruitt’s travel?
CT: Hugh, I, here’s the thing. It depends on how you’re going to define media. I mean, I just get tired of having to answer…
HH: For everyone, yeah.
CT: …because, you know, exactly. I just sort of, I’m sort of, I throw up my hands at it, and I refuse to do it anymore. And I don’t think you can collectively say the media’s anything, because you know, who’s the most influential media organ on television now? It’s Fox News, right? They have the most viewers in the country, so…
HH: Actually, it’s Rachel. I think Rachel’s winning, isn’t she?
CT: Well, Rachel’s, well, but my point is who’s got influence over the agenda?
HH: Yeah. Oh, that’s Fox, yeah.
CT: My point is that, my point is that if you’re going to define the entire media by what happens in prime time, you know, that’s a little, I think that’s a little disingenuous.
HH: I’m reacting to the Washington Post this morning.
CT: Again, look, let just, let’s go back to, let’s go back to Scott Pruitt. I think Scott Pruitt’s a lightning rod. I think on environmental issues, I think you’re right. I think that there is an institutional bias on environmental issues towards climate science and things like that, right? So that is perceived as an ideological bias. So I think that there is an institutional bias when it comes to some of these science studies and things like that on the climate. So that…
HH: So that leads people to go after him.
CT: That, I concede. Okay, that’s right. That, I concede. So I think it automatically puts him sort of on the defensive.
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