Extinction Rebellion has been taking on the tabloid media this morning in a series of actions calling out their blatant suppression of crucial news on the climate and ecological crisis. In London, three people met The Sun’s political investigative reporter Amir Razavi in a sting operation, where they posed as whistleblowers there to provide him with top secret information. The group questioned Razavi about his climate ethics, asking him to explain his newspaper’s 30-year campaign of climate lies and misinformation.
The Extinction Rebellion citizen journalists took the rare opportunity to ask why The Sun continues to withhold, deny and downgrade vital information on the scale of the climate crisis and its root causes, just days after Antonio Guterres likened the latest IPCC report to a “survival guide for humanity”.
While this was happening, at the headquarters of Rupert Murdoch’s News UK at London Bridge, the Telegraph HQ in Victoria and the offices of the Daily Mail in Kensington, several people spray painted the buildings with green washable paint using fire extinguishers. A large banner with the words ‘CORRUPT AS FUCK’ was attached to multiple helium filled balloons at News UK and was floated up in front of the office windows on higher floors to highlight the destructive influence of media moguls such as Rupert Murdoch on democracy.
Steve Tooze of Extinction Rebellion and former Sun and Daily Mail journalist, said: “The mainstream media has a major role to play in delivering the truth to the general public about the climate and ecological emergency. They could and should be helping all of us come together around the clear need for change and providing people with the facts so we can work out how to transition away from fossil fuels and build a future that is safer, fairer, better for everyone. Instead, their business model thrives on division and click bait culture that sets people against one another. The reality is, the billionaire owned media uses this strategy to uphold the status quo so that those with power can hold on tightly to that power.
“Extinction Rebellion is saying we’re not going to accept this anymore. People need to set aside their differences and come together if we’re going to stave off the worst of the climate crisis and build a better society, so we’re inviting everyone to join us at Parliament from 21st April to start creating the change we need. The mainstream press has a responsibility to help people find a way to achieve this rather than profiting from our division.”
Climate solutions are readily available, as outlined in the IPCC report. What is lacking is media reporting and government support, with the Telegraph suggesting for example that Monday’s IPCC report was “nothing but confected hysteria” and the The Daily Mail accused the authors of using “hysterical language”. The Sun devoted less than half a column on page two to the report. The Daily Mail has repeatedly published misleading or outright false information on the climate crisis. The Telegraph platforms and emboldens known climate deniers, and none of our national papers give this crisis the attention appropriate to the scale of the emergency.
Anna, a photographer from London who took part in the action, said: “I am taking this action to highlight the Daily Mail’s inadequate response to the climate and ecological crises. From editorials calling for an end to net zero policies, to their support of fracking, the Mail makes itself an enemy of our planet and the humans who depend on it. The news shapes our minds, and without honest reporting we risk sleepwalking into an unnecessarily difficult future.”
Tom Masters, Civil Servant from Bristol, said: “Extinction Rebellion demands that people tell the truth about the climate emergency. This shouldn’t be too much to ask of a national newspaper that exerts significant influence over its readership and over the British government.
The Telegraph has been described as ‘Fleet Street’s last dinosaur of climate change denial’ by climate science expert Dr Bob Ward, and with good reason. Only this week they downplayed the severity of the IPCC report and labelled it as hysterical. I undertook today’s action to highlight the irresponsibility of mainstream press and their unwillingness to do their job and tell people the truth and hold power to account for their inaction.”
These actions are just 30 days before thousands will descend on Parliament for four days for The Big One. On Monday this week, dozens of major NGOs, trade unions, justice movements and more made their commitment to stand with Extinction Rebellion in April to face the intersecting crises of climate breakdown, the cost of living, attacks on democracy, and the shredding of essential public services, together.