I spent Monday morning performing the most meaningful activity a person can engage in: arguing with strangers on the internet. The battlegrounds were the comment sections of news stories covering the Keystone XL Pipeline protests that happened in Washington D.C. this weekend. Bill McKibben, 350.org and 3000 of their closest friends encircled the White House to let Obama know that the pipeline was dangerous, that climate change is a serious problem, and that a powerful movement is forming to advance these issues.
Normally I don’t bother mixing it up with people in comment sections. I’d rather pursue something more rewarding, like running face first in to a brick wall. Today was different, though, because I saw an opportunity to present the case against Keystone XL and actually be heard. As of this morning, the comment sections for the various Keystone protest stories were almost entirely empty, most having fewer than a dozen entries, so into the high grass I waded. If you ever have the chance to be a top commenter on a major news article, you should probably take advantage of it.
The question is, why were there so few comments on these pages? A quick look around revealed an answer as simple as it was infuriating: all of these reports have been buried. No one was commenting because no one was seeing the story. The front pages of every major American news outlet had chosen to ignore it. Isn’t it odd that 3000+ Americans could march in Washington D.C. and the mainstream media just shrugs? Isn’t it strange that a protest completely surrounding a White House filled with reporters could be so completely ignored? CNN (if I have to choose one to pick on) couldn’t be bothered to report on it, but did, thankfully, find space on their front page to report on Donald Trump’s newest golf course and a shop that sells liquor-filled donuts. Stay classy, CNN.
Turning to the protest itself, it sounds like things went pretty well. Turnout was good, spirits were high, and impact was felt. Much love to all the brave souls who put themselves on the line and risked arrest this weekend in order to oppose the pipeline. Here’s hoping your efforts were not in vain, that the Obama administration will listen to reason, and that CNN and its ilk will soon allow some real news in among the trivialities.