Upon returning, he said a bunch of inane things, from wanting to send all polluting industry off-planet to thanking “every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all of this.”
It was a cringey and painful reminder that what we witnessed was not some grand human endeavor but a joyride that was basically the equivalent of “area man takes Tesla out for a spin” at a billionaire scale.
“The corporate TV news business model relies on capturing and holding viewers’ attention through entertainment and outrage,” Evlondo Cooper, senior researcher for Media Matters for America’s climate and energy program, wrote in an email.
“This is a big problem as the news that should be driving daily coverage, such as climate change and its impacts, is often deemphasized or ignored as a result.
Bezos did bring along Wally Funk, a woman who was banned from being an astronaut by NASA and became the oldest person to go to space, and Oliver Daemen, an 18-year-old student, son of a wealthy investor, and youngest person to visit space.
Whether a cynical ploy to deflect criticism or a heartfelt urge to show space is for everyone, having them onboard certainly gave news outlets uplifting stories if they wanted to tell them. But, one could perhaps argue if one were so inclined, the continued fate of humanity and the biosphere is slightly more in the human interest category than “richest guy on Earth goes to space, hoots, and hollers for a few minutes.” Last year saw record-breaking wildfires, record-breaking hurricanes, humanitarian disasters, and extreme heat.
Covid-19 also intersected with climate concerns in very real ways; coal miners, for example, feared for their lives after decades of inhaling toxic dust underground.
(The same is true for any number of topics not prominent in the news but certainly worth reporting.) Climate stories are all around us, just waiting to be told.
Another view of the phenomenon—let’s call it Billionaire Stockholm Syndrome—was on display less than two weeks ago when Bezos’ billionaire bête noire, Richard Branson, blasted into space for a few minutes on his rival company’s spaceplane.
Wall-to-wall coverage ended up meaning that climate scientist Katharine Hayhoe got bumped from CNN to talk about the heatwave millions of people stuck on Earth were living through.
While Branson was floating mid-air, Death Valley registered the hottest temperature ever reliably recorded on Earth and hundreds had died in a heatwave that hit the Northwest the week before.
That’s taken as proof viewers don’t want to watch those types of segments, which is then used as an excuse to keep breathlessly covering the likes of Branson and Bezos instead.
1 week, 1 day ago by Masoumeh Shafiei