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Published on June 1st, 2019 | by Zachary Shahan


Some Environmentalists Are Being Punked Regarding Tesla

June 1st, 2019 by  

Generally speaking, people don’t have time to become experts on a ton of subjects and can’t follow the news of many different topics or industries in a careful, deep way.

So, I get it, not everyone who is concerned about our climate catastrophe or political challenges is also following Tesla closely and able to cut through the misleading coverage and smear campaigns to get to the deeper stories.

That said, I do expect a bit more from environmentalists than from the average person, so it is disappointing to see that some — or many — environmentalists have been punked on this topic, on the overarching story of this company.

The thing is, just as there are massive oil-funded campaigns to incorrectly discredit climate scientists and climate science, there are massive oil-funded, auto-dealership-funded, automaker-funded campaigns to incorrectly discredit and smear Tesla. They are partly aimed at the same Fox News–watching people who buy into the climate science smears, but they are also squarely targeted at demographics that should otherwise be superb populations for Tesla adoption.

As some examples, extremely climate-concerned Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (AOC) recently dropped an odd anti-Tesla slam (seemingly having absorbed some common messages aimed at conservatives, not even progressives), Elizabeth Warren retweeted a perhaps otherwise good article from the New York Times that, unfortunately, featured Elon Musk most prominently among highly paid tech CEOs in 2018 — even though Elon Musk had a net-negative salary last year. Is it Warren’s fault that the New York Times tells her Elon Musk made $2.3 billion last year and she believes it? No, not really, but she did get punked and it’s something progressives need to watch out for. Tesla is a target as much as they are targets of their political opposition, if not more so! (For more history on the New York Times and Tesla, see this piece and this piece.)

No doubt about it, these leading progressive voices — and many who follow them — are being punked into an anti-Tesla bias. The company has accelerated a transition away from fossil fuels perhaps more than any other company on the planet. It has not only sold hundreds of thousands of zero-emissions cars, but has also been the main force stimulating much faster electrification of the rest of the auto industry (other automakers have been electrifying much faster due to both inspiration and fear). Tesla, by itself, is likely a key reason China has such strong electric vehicle policies and Europe has such strong vehicle emissions policies.

Progressives like Warren and AOC want quick climate action, yet they seem to put Tesla in the “bad” box due to incorrect but effective messaging coming out of the oil and auto industries, as well as certain tech critics — people who seem to be critical of every major tech company, which implies a sort of systematic bias or prejudice.

Part of the problem — a big part of the problem — is that tremendous journalistic outfits that are critical to societal evolution in other ways, especially on political topics, are failing the world on the topic of Tesla. It’s a little bit of a mystery, but there are various possibilities: they have simply had a hard time seeing through misleading claims sent their way; their colleagues in the finance, business, or the auto world have corrupted their minds, and possibly their hearts in some cases; they became biased after Elon Musk attacked journalists in a rather broad-brushed and careless fashion a couple of times; there is editorial and institutional bias due to all the advertising conventional auto companies do in the mass media; people are simply envious and bitter. It’s hard to say, even in any individual case, but these are some commonly postulated reasons for the broad media bias against Tesla in the financial press and mainstream media more generally.

This is a big problem, in my opinion, not only for Tesla but also for the important work other journalists are doing. We are at an unprecedented crisis in American history with dictatorially inclined Donald Trump. We’ve never seen anything like the current attacks from Trumpists (it’s hard to call them Republicans) on the bedrocks of democracy and American values of honesty, justice, and logic. We need more people to trust and act on the good work that many political journalists are doing. Unfortunately, the poor record outfits like the LA Times, New York Times, CNBC, MSNBC, and others are showing on Tesla is pushing people away from these journalistic companies completely. And for what? Why? Because they are pushing the very propaganda they are supposed to be dismantling.

People are very eager for others to do their part on climate change. Climate activists are incensed about the entire business model of oil companies like Exxon and Chevron. Yet, if we pause for a moment and consider it, how many of them are yet to drop their dirty gasoline cars and switch to clean electric vehicles like Teslas? How many of them find a way to justify that despite thinking Exxon should shut down? How many of them propagate the propaganda of these oil companies against Tesla? How many avoid driving a better, more enjoyable, quicker, safer, cooler car simply because … oil companies have punked them into thinking Tesla is evil? How many of them realize a Tesla Model 3 can often be cheaper than a Honda Accord or Toyota Camry, let alone a BMW 3 Series.

It’s going to be hard for us to solve our societal crisis if even climate-concerned consumers and politicians don’t get on the side of the most positively influential climate-concerned cleantech companies on the planet. 
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About the Author

Zach is tryin' to help society help itself one word at a time. He spends most of his time here on CleanTechnica as its director and chief editor. He's also the CEO of Important Media. Zach is recognized globally as an electric vehicle, solar energy, and energy storage expert. He has presented about cleantech at conferences in India, the UAE, Ukraine, Poland, Germany, the Netherlands, the USA, Canada, and Curaçao. Zach has long-term investments in Tesla [TSLA] — after years of covering solar and EVs, he simply has a lot of faith in this company and feels like it is a good cleantech company to invest in. But he offers no investment advice and does not recommend investing in Tesla or any other company.

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