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Because 'The House Is on Fire,' Naomi Klein Takes Centrism-Obsessed Media to Task for Failed Climate Coverage

"You can't leave it all to the markets."

Naomi Klein speaks to the audience at an April 30 CJR/The Nation town hall.

Naomi Klein speaks to the audience at an April 30 CJR/The Nation town hall. (Photo: screenshot, YouTube)

News coverage of the climate crisis can no longer rely on the false pretense of objectivity, writer and activist Naomi Klein said Tuesday. 

"There is a confirmation bias among the largest chunk of journalists out there who really pride themselves on being centrists," Klein said Tuesday during a town hall at the Columbia Journalism School in New York. "There's an absolute fetish for centrism, for seriousness defined by splitting the difference—and not getting too excited about anything"

The mainstream media is "profoundly distrustful of people who are saying 'actually, the house is on fire,'" Klein said, citing the impulse among many journalists to remain objective and hear both sides. 

"But guess what," said Klein. "The house is on fire."

The journalism school's publication, The Columbia Journalism Review (CJR), is joining with The Nation to launch an initiative, #CoveringClimateNow, to change coverage of the climate crisis.

In an essay describing the initiative from April 22, Mark Hertsgaard, environmental correspondent for The Nation, and Kyle Pope, the publisher of CJR, described how they see the journalist's job in the climate crisis as one of sounding the alarm.

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"Instead of sleepwalking us toward disaster, the U.S. news media need to remember their Paul Revere responsibilities," wrote Hertsgaard and Pope, "to awaken, inform, and rouse the people to action."

Part of that mission, Klein said, is pushing back on conventional wisdom about the role of extractive technologies in furthering neoliberal economic development. 

"You can't leave it all to the markets," Klein said, laying out a vision of the future that leaves neoliberalism behind.

"You have to plan," Klein added. "You have to regulate."

Further, said Klein, the entire project of neoliberalism "falls apart" if the climate crisis is reality. 

Watch Klein's comments:

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