Exxon Bans The Guardian From Annual Meeting: ‘Lack Of Objectivity’

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Chris White Tech Reporter
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ExxonMobil is refusing to allow The Guardian to attend the oil company’s annual meeting, and the outlet is not happy with the rejected request.

“We are denying your request [to attend Wednesday’s meeting] because of the Guardian’s lack of objectivity on climate change reporting demonstrated by its partnership with anti-oil and gas activists and its campaign against companies that provide energy necessary for modern life, including newspapers,” Alan Jeffers, Exxon’s media relations manager, told The Guardian.

The Guardian’s financial editor, Nils Pratley, wrote a short piece on Wednesday in response, titled “Hypersensitive Exxon Bans Guardian From AGM,” in which he suggests the British newspaper was rebuked by Exxon because of its past coverage on the fossil fuel industry.

“Corporate arrogance-cum-hypersensitivity on this scale is rare these days,” Pratley bemoaned. “One suspects Exxon’s board is still cross that it has lost its battle to prevent resolutions on climate change being put to the meeting,” he added.

The Guardian has been highly critical in the past of Exxon, especially after media reports came out last year suggesting the oil company had covered up internal research showing climate change was likely to affect oil development.

What Pratley failed to mention, of course, is that The Guardian has not fared well in its fossil fuel divestment campaign either. In fact, the newspaper decided to transition in 2015 to the second phase of its anti-fossil fuel campaign, which essentially entailed it placing its oil divestment mission on the backburner and instead look at directly engaging with the fossil fuel industry to make change.

The Guardian’s Jeremy Farrar, Director of the charitable trust, wrote in 2015 that the newspaper “recognizes the unavoidable fact that fossil fuels are essential to the economy, life and health, and will remain so for decades under any conceivable scenario. This is especially true in low and middle income countries, where growth is the best guarantor of better health.”

The New York Times’ Andrew Revkin expressed concerns last year that The Guardian lacked the kind of objectivity needed to report fairly on so-called global warming issues.

“So what are you not covering when you are putting all resources into one thing?” Revkin rhetorically asked about The Guardian’s myopic divestment advocacy. “If that one aspect of climate change is divestment and a finger-pointing approach to the problem (you are) not looking at the full suite of ways that societies are going to need to explore to get de-carbonized in a growing and global economy.”

In short, Revkin concluded, “You are kind of missing stuff—and journalism to me is about making sure you are keeping track of the whole picture…”

Pratley ended his screed lambasting Exxon for what he said was the company’s refusal “to contemplate the possibility that some of its shareholders may sympathise with the Guardian’s reporting and wish to read a firsthand account of the meeting.”

“Grow up,” he wrote.

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