14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY february 15-21, 2024 www.montereycountyweekly.com Project Censored takes a look at the top 10 stories the mainstream media missed last year. By Paul Rosenberg Illustrations by Anson Stevens-Bollen Under Covered That the worsening climate crisis is making the planet increasingly inhospitable to human life is a storyline that finally appears in a number of news outlets. But there are more layers to our destructive treatment of our own home. For example, “forever chemicals” are so abundant in our world that rainwater is no longer safe to drink. Even though the PFAS story has received some mainstream media attention, the bottom line didn’t come through clearly to the general public. That is essence of what Project Censored’s signature “top ten” list is all about: exposing the suppression (active or passive) of vitally important information from the public, which renders the public unable to act in the way that a healthy democratic public is supposed to. This year’s compilation adds forever chemicals to a story that is all too familiar. Specifically, the revelation that companies responsible for them have known about their dangers for decades, but kept those dangers hidden—just like fossil fuel companies and climate catastrophe. The intersection of environmental/public health and corporate criminality is typical of how certain long-standing patterns of censored news weave together across the years, even decades. In the larger 25-story list in their annual book, The State of the Free Press, Andy Lee Roth and Steve Macek describe these patterns at two levels. First, invoking the metaphor that “exemplary reporting is praised for ‘shining light’ on a subject or ‘bringing to light’ crucial facts and original perspectives,” they say: “The news reports featured in this chapter are rays of light shining through a heavily slatted window. Each of these independent news reports highlights a social issue that has otherwise been dimly lit or altogether obscured by corporate news outlets…Censorship, whether overt or subtle, establishes the angle of the slats, admitting more or less light from outside.” In addition, they say, it’s important to see the “list as the latest installment in an ongoing effort to identify systemic gaps in so-called ‘mainstream’ news coverage.” Two themes—environmental harm and corporate abuse—dominate the top ten list. That dominance sends another message as well, a message about the fundamental mismatch between our needs as a species living on a finite planet and a rapacious economic system conceived in ignorance of that fact. The climate catastrophe is just