Oct 29, 2019 • 41M

#53 — Emily Atkin (Heated 🔥)

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Daniel Levitt delves inside the minds of journalists around the world
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Hello! And welcome to another edition of Inside The Newsroom. Today’s guest is Emily Atkin, author of the Heated newsletter for people pissed off with climate change, and also a contributing editor at the New Republic. Emily and I got really, wait for it… HEATED discussing CNN’s actions, or lack of actions, in the fight against the climate crisis, and we also named the world’s worst polluters. Below is a post-game analysis on everything we discussed. Enjoy 🔥

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What Is CNN For?

CNN is somewhat of an enigma when it comes to the climate crisis. One week they’ll absolutely smash the debate out of the park with seven whole hours of climate town halls, but the next week they failed to raise a single question on the issue at the fourth Democratic presidential debate. People were mad, including Republican governor of Washington Jay Inslee.

Now, to be fair to CNN, a seven-hour marathon dedicated to the climate crisis is more than any other cable outlet has done. So thank you CNN for that. But there’s simply no excuse not to keep the conversation going. The very purpose of journalism is to inform the public of the most important issues, and the climate IS among the most important issues we face today.

Emily Atkin, Heated

Who Are the Worst Polluters?

The Guardian published a bombshell of a series on the world’s biggest polluters. It’s no surprise that the top 20 polluters are all energy or oil companies, including BP whose social media team somehow kept a straight face when it tweeted this pile of shit. It’s one of the only times I’ve seen a mass list of culprits published like this, which I hope signifies a more aggressive approach from across the media to outing the worst offenders.

Matthew Taylor and Jonathan Watts, the Guardian

If you like what you read, how about clicking the ❤️ up top. I’ll be very grateful. 😘

Oh Hey Google!

One company that didn’t make the top 20 list, but is still far from out of the woods, is our darling search engine Google. Google has made substantial donations to some of the biggest climate deniers, despite creating a mirage that it cares about anything other than money. Most prominent on the list is the Competitive Enterprise Institute, which is the Conservative think tank behind convincing Donald Trump to pull out of the Paris agreement. To be fair, it’s not hard to make Trump do something.

Google said that donating to the CEI doesn’t mean it supports climate change denial. But that’s the same old excuse you’ll hear from large companies trying to evade any ounce of responsibility. Mr. Zuckerberg espoused the same strategy last week on Capitol Hill. When Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez questioned why The Daily Caller was part of Facebook’s new factchecking service, Zuckerberg quickly palmed responsibility off to an outsourcer, saying that Facebook didn’t actually appoint who fact-checked the content on its own platform. It’s as if he’s missing the point, but I digress.

Google should know that donating to certain Conservative organizations will bring with it a justified backlash, and its bullshit excuses aren’t going to slide.

Stephanie Kirchgaessner, the Guardian

Big Oil, Meet Big Tobacco

It was only 20-odd years ago that the U.S. government finally sued Philip Morris and a group of other large tobacco companies for defrauding the public and hiding the truth about nicotine addiction. Not that I was conscious of what was going on back then, but I can’t believe Big Tobacco got away with it for so long. Even more maddening is that climate journalists have to write strikingly similar words today, as ‘Big Tobacco’ has morphed into ‘Big Oil’. So similar are the two that the same lawyers and PR companies that lied to the public all those decades ago about nicotine, are the same people defending and deflecting for the oil companies today.

Sharon Eubanks for the Union of Concerned Scientists

Exxon Goes To Trial

BUT, as wise as the oil companies think they are, the public are following an old playbook of their own. Just as is the case in the opioid crisis and the ‘techlash’, it’s been the people and individual states that have taken action. Last week, New York’s Attorney General began a trial against ExxonMobil for misleading investors by downplaying how much future environmental regulations could affect its bottom line. It might not be perfect, but it could be a major crack in the armor for the oil industry.

Justine Calma, The Verge

Have Journalists Made Any Progress Covering the Climate?

The answer is yes and no, depending on who you ask. But largely we haven’t been able to grapple with the idea that the climate crisis is among the most important issues we face today, if not the most important. Take a read of this article written back in 2008 by the Columbia Journalism Review, and you’ll see that we’re still discussing similar issues of how to tackle covering climate change more than a decade later.

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Next up… Bill Bishop, author of the Sinocism newsletter, to talk everything China.

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