Coverage of the BlackRock CEO offers an object lesson in how not to report on greenwashing.

by Adam H. Johnson, The Lever

In early December, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, the world’s largest private equity company, announced BlackRock was going all in on crypto currencies, helping revitalize interest in the dwindling, fossil fuel-heavy industry. This otherwise routine business story is noteworthy for one important reason: Three years ago, Fink was heralded by many in business media for ostensibly helping to usher in a new, green, and sustainable brand of capitalism.

Fink now going all-in on the fossil-intensive crypto industry is a good time to review that fawning press coverage and determine what lessons can be learned from that particularly cynical news cycle of greenwashing.

larry fink points at someone

For his big announcement in early 2020 that BlackRock was pivoting to climate-friendly investments, Fink received extensive positive media coverage presenting himself as a private industry advocate working to combat climate change.

With $10 trillion in assets under his management — roughly equivalent to the aggregate wealth of Latin America, and twice that of Africa — Fink argued that BlackRock could be a force of positive change for society’s most urgent problem: human-caused climate change. He received friendly coverage in The New York Times, CNBC, Bloomberg and Fortune, all portraying Fink and BlackRock’s work as a colossal cultural shift in Corporate America away from myopic profit motive into something resembling responsible corporate stewardship of the Earth.

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