Noam Chomsky on Trump, Climate Change, and Journalism

The MIT linguist and political philosopher was among those who predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump. So we asked him a few questions.


Renowned linguist and political philosopher Noam Chomsky predicted the rise of a figure like Donald Trump six years ago.

Journalists and pollsters, on the other hand, famously dismissed the possibility until it became a reality two weeks ago. Given the president-elect’s proclivity to dismiss climate change as a hoax, suggest that vaccines are linked to autism, and otherwise hold — or appear to hold — unscientific views on a variety of issues, science journalists are asking themselves where they might have gone wrong. Are there ways they might have done a better job covering the candidates, analyzing the issues, and understanding the overt and covert appeal to the views and policies both Trump and HIllary Clinton were espousing?

In the wake of the election results, Chomsky spoke to a small audience at the offices of Undark’s publisher, the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT. He touched on many topics, including how difficult it is to raise public concern over climate change threats, the decline in “the kinds of jobs that gave people a sense of dignity and self worth,” and how vast numbers of Americans feel culturally and economically “under attack.”

Excerpts from that discussion are above. The full video can be viewed below.


Lauren M. Whaley, Iván Carrillo, and Meera Subramanian are currently research fellows with the Knight Science Journalism Program at MIT.

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