BY MICHAEL SANDOVAL
A reporter barred from attending a climate event organized by the Sunrise Movement and headlined by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Sen. Bernie Sanders spoke out today, as reporters from across the country took issue with the group’s decision to shut out someone who regularly covers climate issues.
Josh Siegel, an energy and environment reporter for the Washington Examiner, argued he was not allowed access to the event because he reports for the outlet, ostensibly because of its editorial lean.
“I am not comfortable drawing attention to myself, and away from my work, but as @sunrisemvmt begins their D.C. rally with @AOC and @SenSanders, I thought it was important to say that Sunrise would not grant me a credential to attend the event because I work for the @dcexaminer. … At a time when climate advocates are trying to unite the country, picking and choosing coverage seems wrong, especially when I am known for my fair, non-ideological reporting,” Siegel tweeted.
The Examiner is a well-established news website based in Washington, D.C. that has reporters covering Congress, the White House, and the campaign trail.
The Sunrise Movement burst on the scene in 2017 ahead of the midterms after previous groups failed to convince major universities around the county to divest their endowments from fossil fuels holdings. The aim was to get students and activists to take part in a “Sunrise Semester” of grassroots organizing leading up to Election Day.
Since then, it’s been revealed that The Sunrise Movement is funded by wealthy anti-fossil fuel groups like the Rockefeller Family Fund and the Wallace Global Fund.
In an interview today with Western Wire, Siegel spoke about how the Sunrise Movement said there would be no room for him and how they failed to reply to Siegel’s follow up requests.
Siegel said he understands the Sunrise Movement might be experiencing growing pains when it comes to dealing with large-scale media attention, but said he was frustrated upon realizing he was possibly singled out.
“I’ve been covering them [Sunrise Movement] and the Green New Deal for months and they’ve never responded to any of my inquires. Sunrise, a new organization, they’re pretty young, so I’m sure they’ve been overwhelmed with the attention, so some of that is understandable. But I haven’t found a colleague who just hasn’t blanketly not received any response,” Siegel said.
The Sunrise Movement attempted to smooth over the situation, but Siegel is skeptical of their response.
“I had other reporters from outlets such as Politico tell me they had RSVP’d after the date that I did and they were able to get in, no question,” Siegel said. “Sunrise did attempt to, after they saw the uproar, they did attempt to explain away and say, ‘oh, we turned down a dozen outlets, you’re not the only one.’ But I find that to be dubious in that no one else has spoken up about that and as you saw, I’m pretty known on the beat.”