The New York Times’ coverage of an environmental protest in Manhattan, “Fingers Pointed at President, Protesters Demand End to Fossil Fuels,” felt familiar. The story template, of normal people “young and old” filling the streets, was identical to the paper’s mainstreaming of previous left-wing protests, a template from former leftist protest movements like Occupy Wall Street, the Dreamers, and Black Lives Matter.
The story took six people to report and was credited to Somini Sengupta, Hilary Howard, and Delger Erdenesanaa. (Sengupta wrote a similar story about a march around this time in 2019, which just shows how effective these things are.)
Tens of thousands of people, young and old, filled the streets of Midtown Manhattan under blazing sunshine on Sunday to demand that world leaders quickly pivot away from fossil fuels dangerously heating the Earth.
Their ire was sharply directed at President Biden, who arrived in New York Sunday night for several fund-raisers this week and to speak before the United Nations General Assembly session that begins Tuesday.
“Biden, you should be scared of us,” Emma Buretta, 17, a New York City high school student and an organizer with the Fridays for Future movement, shouted at a rally ahead of the march. “If you want our vote, if you don’t want the blood of our generations to be on your hands, end fossil fuels.”
The Biden administration has shepherded through the United States’ most ambitious climate law and is working to transition the country to wind, solar and other renewable energy. But it has also continued to approve permits for new oil and gas drilling, in most instances because it was required by law.
According to scientific models as well as projections by the International Energy Agency, nations must stop approving new oil, gas and coal projects if the world is to stay within relatively safe levels of atmospheric warming.
At least they included a response from the devilish energy industry who signed on to “the urgency of confronting climate change” but said the protesters approach would “leave American families and businesses beholden to unstable foreign regions for higher cost and far less reliable energy.”
Then came the attempt, using the old reliable template, to normalize (leaving out the Che Guevara t-shirt-wearers) and flatter the protesters in a sentence that’s probably appeared in some form in every admiring New York Times article about a left-wing protest.
In New York, some protesters came in wheelchairs; others pushed strollers. They traveled to the city from around the country and around the world. There was puppetry and song and thousands of homemade signs and banners. They were health care workers and antinuclear activists, monks and imams, labor leaders and actors, scientists and drummers. And students, so many students.
(The conservative, anti-spending Tea Party movement, by contrast, invariably got stung with phony accusations of racism instead.)
The reporters indulged in local color showing the daunting intellectual firepower behind the march.
Michelle Joni, 38, of Brooklyn brought what she called a “dance hub” for the march -- a converted school bus decked out with Barbie heads, stickers, a couch and a dance floor on the roof. “It’s like we bring joy and we dance and we create connection,” she said. “And that’s the fuel for ending fossil fuels.”
Of the six people required to produce this fawning story about a left-wing protest, none managed to remind readers that the United Auto Workers are going on strike partially because of the transition to electric vehicles.