When Extinction Rebellion (XR) blockaded the entrances of two printing plants last week, it might not have anticipated the vitriolic response.
Tory home secretary Priti Patel accused the group of making an “attack on free press, society and democracy”.
Telegraph newspaper bosses temporarily removed its online paywall in what they imagined was a stinging rebuke against the action.
They also published an article declaring the group was “infiltrated by Marxists”. It would be an outrage if socialists didn’t fight climate chaos, which is caused by capitalism.
XR’s action wasn’t just about stopping the right wing rags from reaching the newsstands. It was also about drawing attention to how the media fails to treat climate change as an emergency.
XR is right to say there isn’t a “free press”—and correct to point out how only a handful of media barons own the vast majority of newspapers.
Billionaire bosses employ journalists to print stories that reflect their outlook on the world. That’s why titles owned by notorious climate change denier Rupert Murdoch pour scorn on climate change science.
But people challenge the lies they are told by the newspapers all the time. It’s not the case that readers passively accept what they are told by the press.
That’s why there’s huge public support for XR and the school climate strikes, despite the opposition coming from the Tories and the press.