sarah palinMemo to Washington Post and editorial page editor Fred Hiatt: We get it already.

You don’t like clean energy. You don’t mind publishing unfact-checked articles again and again. And if somebody wants to publish an op-ed attacking climate legislation focused exclusively on the cost of action while never actually discussing climate change or the cost of inaction, hey, why not? It’s not like there’s a major study by a leading journalist criticizing the entire media for such biased coverage (see “The press misrepresented the economic debate over cap and trade…. The press allowed opponents of climate action to replicate the false debate over climate science in the realm of climate economics. The press … sometimes assumed that doing nothing about climate change carried no cost“).

But running a piece by Sarah Palin, “The ‘Cap And Tax’ Dead End,” that is devoid of original arguments and simply repeats tired myths is a new low. As Art Brodsky writes in HuffingtonPost,

Is there any sane person left over in the Post management?

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Palin is devoid of knowledge on climate (see “McCain VP Palin is a global-warming-denying, Pat Buchanan acolyte” and Palin on CBS: “I’m not going to solely blame all of man’s activities on changes in climate.”). As for energy, simply being a (quitting) governor of an energy state doesn’t make her an expert any more than being able to see Russia from a tall building in Alaska makes her a foreign-policy expert. Indeed, Palin does not even know basics of Alaska energy.

In fact, Palin is so ignorant of energy, so practiced at repeating falsehoods, that in September, during the campaign, the Washington Post itself gave her its highest (which is to say lowest) rating of “Four Pinocchios” for continuing to “to peddle bogus [energy] statistics three days after the original error was pointed out by independent fact-checkers.

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Amazingly, the Post has published an op-ed on climate change legislation by the governor of the state that is currently the most battered by climate change, without any discussion of climate change or its impacts on that state. Heck, even Alaska GOP Senator Lisa Murkowski pointed out in a May 2006 speech on climate change that the tremendous recent warming had opened the door to the “voracious spruce bark beetle,” which devastated over three million acres in Alaska, “providing dry fuel for outbreaks of enormous wild fires.”

In one of the most unintentionally humorous pieces of crap the Post has ever subjected on the public, Palin states:

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Unfortunately, many in the national media would rather focus on the personality-driven political gossip of the day than on the gravity of these challenges. So, at risk of disappointing the chattering class, let me make clear what is foremost on my mind and where my focus will be:

I am deeply concerned about President Obama’s cap-and-trade energy plan, and I believe it is an enormous threat to our economy. It would undermine our recovery over the short term and would inflict permanent damage.


[Silver lining note: In a perverse way, perhaps we should be grateful to the Post. Probably the best thing that could happen to climate legislation is if Palin becomes the lead spokesperson attacking it.]

Let’s set aside the rather obvious fact that the bill that doesn’t even start imposing a cap until 2012, so it’s absurd to assert it will “undermine our recovery over the short term.” The reverse case is, in fact, stronger — see Nobelist Krugman attacks “junk economics”: Climate action “now might actually help the economy recover from its current slump” by giving “businesses a reason to invest in new equipment and facilities.”

Moreover, even in 2012, the total value of the allowances will be under $50 billion (in a $15 trillion economy) and all that money is going to be returned to the economy, so again, like all economic models show, the bill will have no significant negative impact.

No, what’s so laughable about this piece is that Palin wouldn’t even be considered by the Post as a suitable candidate for an op-ed on the climate bill if it weren’t for the national media’s focus on personality-driven politics. As Art Brodsky writes in HuffingtonPost:

With all the talk about how newspapers are dying, can we add one more reason to the list of horribles — suicide. The “salon” scandal still hasn’t died down, not after the paper’s ombudsman published his scathing critique calling the intimate dinners at publisher Katharine Weymouth’s house an “ethical lapse of monumental proportions.” The damage to the credibility of the paper can’t be measured. How often does a publisher print a mea culpa as Weymouth did?

How does the Post regain its equilibrium? How does it recover not only from this disaster but also from the dismissal of popular blogger Dan Froomkin, whose sacking led to great protests from the readers the Post execs didn’t think existed?

Why, by putting the soon-to-be ex-gov on the op-ed page, one of the prime places of real estate left in the newspaper world? Not to put too fine a point on it — is there any sane person left over in the Post management?

The op-ed page, despite what conservatives say, is seen by progressives as a neo-con haven, sheltering talents like Jim Hoagland and conservatives like Kathleen Parker. But Palin is another case entirely. It’s not simply that no one who saw her last two press conferences about her quitting Alaska for the bright lights of the Lower 48 believes she actually wrote the piece. Ghost-writing is a fine established art. Few politicians do their own writing.

It’s quite another to believe that she actually knows or cares sufficiently about cap-and-trade and environmental legislation to care enough to write about it for a major newspaper. And even if she does, what possible justification on Earth is there for the Post publishing her?

The only one I can think of is to “get people talking” about the Post page. To create “buzz.” Well, there’s good “buzz” and bad “buzz.” This is definitely the latter. It’s not only that Palin has no constituency to speak of. It’s not even that she has been trashed by the right, in addition to criticism by the left. She has no authority to write an article like this and the Post has no business running one.

At the least, and it’s a far stretch, a global-warming denier like Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) represents a constituency — the oil industry and the people of his state. Palin has just abandoned whatever electoral constituency she had, and now the Post is helping to establish herself in this brave new world of hers with conservative celebritydom and punditocracy.

The Lerner family, the owners of the Nationals, finally let their manager go after one too many embarrassments. It’s time for the owners of the Post to wake up and to realize that having a joke of an op-ed page is no joke.

That’s what I’ve been saying — trade Fred Hiatt (see “Memo to Washington Post: Editorial page editor Fred Hiatt just recycled a right-wing WSJ op-ed. If you won’t fire him, could you move him over to obits where he can’t hurt anyone?“).