On Tuesday, all three network morning shows touted the “immediate backlash” against President Trump’s decision to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah. Little, if any, attention was paid to supporters of the decision, but liberal opponents threatening legal action got all the headlines.
“Turning now to the growing battle over the Trump administration’s plans to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah....The move sparked immediate backlash from the west all the way to Washington,” co-host Hoda Kotb proclaimed on NBC’s Today. In the full report that followed, correspondent Kristen Dahlgren melodramatically hyped: “This morning, President Trump stepping into the middle of a western land battle....drastically scaling back the size of two national monuments in Utah.”
The on-screen headline blared: “Trump’s Controversial Cuts; Slashes Size of Nat’l Monuments in Utah.”
Following soundbites of Trump announcing the new policy, the reporter warned that “critics say the move threatens archaeological sites and could open up the land for coal mining.” Dahlgren added: “Conservation groups and scientists have already filed a joint legal challenge against the administration.”
A clip ran of Randi Spivak from the Center for Biological Diversity launching into a tirade: “President Trump wants to hand our public lands over to private industry to frack, mine, drill, bulldoze and clear cut. Until there’s nothing left for this and future generations of Americans.”
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In an 11-second news brief on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos fretted: “Backlash growing to President Trump’s announcement deciding to shrink two national monuments in Utah, Bears Ears and the Grand Staircase Escalante. It was the largest rollback of land protection in American history.”
Meanwhile, CBS This Morning’s fill-in co-host Bianna Golodryga offered this 27-second brief:
Well, lawsuits are being filed to challenge President Trump’s plan to reduce the size of two national monuments. The President was in Utah yesterday to sign the proclamation shrinking the protected land. It reduces Bear[s] Ears from more than one million acres to around 200,000 and Grand Staircase Escalante from nearly 2 million acres to a million. Native American tribes and environmental groups say protections are needed for archaeological and cultural sites.
The headline on screen sounded the alarm: “Monumental Cuts; President Drastically Shrinks Two Nat’l Monuments in Utah.”
Despite all the media hyperventilating, in an op/ed for FoxNews.com on Monday, former Utah Congressman Jason Chaffetz actually thanked the President for the executive action: “We should all thank the president for his administration’s efforts to look at the facts, listen to the people, and act to roll back restrictive and unnecessary national monument designations that provide few advantages to the American people.”
Chaffetz explained the problem of past Democratic administrations abusing the National Monuments provision of the Antiquities Act to seize control of massive amounts of land:
While such designations may sound good on the surface, in reality they have strained land management budgets and limited public access to beautiful places.
The Trump administration has been on the ground listening to those who bear the burden of these decisions – unlike the Clinton and Obama administrations, which showed little interest in talking to local people before locking up millions of acres of land around them.
Each time the federal government levies new land designations, that new designation and management plan competes with existing parks and monuments for funding.
The National Park Service suffers from a $12 billion maintenance backlog – meaning crumbling buildings, roads, and bridges cannot be repaired or replaced. Overly expansive monument designations – like the two multimillion-acre monuments in Utah – could have been spent on existing park treasures.
Amazingly, none of those considerations were raised in any of the reporting on the broadcast networks.
The slanted full report on NBC’s Today was brought to viewers by Cheerios, Lindt, and Intel.
Here is a full transcript of the December 5 segment:
7:13 AM ET
HODA KOTB: Turning now to the growing battle over the Trump administration’s plans to reduce the size of two national monuments in Utah, nearly two million acres of protected public land in all. The move sparked immediate backlash from the west all the way to Washington. NBC’s Kristen Dahlgren has the details on this story. Hey, Kristen, good morning.
KRISTEN DAHLGREN: Good morning to you, Hoda. Yeah, the move takes away protections for about half of the Grand Staircase monument here, about 85% of Bear’s Ears. But what many say it really does is signal a change in the way federal land is managed. A change long sought by ranchers here and energy companies.
[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Trump’s Controversial Cuts; Slashes Size of Nat’l Monuments in Utah]
This morning, President Trump stepping into the middle of a western land battle.
DONALD TRUMP: I’m a real estate developer. When they start talking about millions of acres, I say, “Say it again?” That’s a lot.
DAHLGREN: By drastically scaling back the size of two national monuments in Utah.
TRUMP: Some people think that the natural resources of Utah should be controlled by a small handful of very distant bureaucrats located in Washington. And guess what? They’re wrong.
DAHLGREN: Grand Staircase Escalante National Monument had been 1.9 million acres, Mr. Trump split it into three separate monuments totaling just over a million. Bears Ears had been 1.35 million acres. It’s now two smaller monuments totaling just under 229,000 acres. It’s the largest rollback of federal land protection in U.S. history. The President arguing for fewer restrictions and more development on public lands.
TRUMP: Unfortunately, previous administrations have ignored the standard and used the law to lock up hundreds of millions of acres of land and water under strict government control.
DAHLGREN: While critics say the move threatens archaeological sites and could open up the land for coal mining.
ETHEL BRANCH [ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE NAVAJO NATION]: We need places like Bear’s Ears, where the land remains largely untouched.
DAHLGREN: Conservation groups and scientists have already filed a joint legal challenge against the administration.
RANDI SPIVAK [CENTER FOR BIOLOGICAL DIVERSITY]: President Trump wants to hand our public lands over to private industry to frack, mine, drill, bulldoze and clear cut. Until there’s nothing left for this and future generations of Americans.
DAHLGREN: Now, the Interior Department has issued a statement saying the new boundaries do protect any science, any artifacts. They also point out that the land will remain under federal control, guys.
KOTB: Alright, Kristen Dahlgren. Kristen, thank you so much.