While I was on vacation, the Washington Post published one of the most craptastic pieces of journalism I’ve seen this year, a piece by the normally reputable Peter Baker called "In Bush’s Final Year, The Agenda Gets Greener." Words can scarcely do it justice.
A friend forwarded it in horror. If he’d said so, I would have believed it was a clever parody. I actually laughed out loud a few times. Every media-crit staple is there in full glory, including the requisite mindless, gutless stenography for the Bush White House. Casual readers will emerge less informed than they went in — the ultimate mark of journalistic malpractice.
I’ve got a lot — as in, five posts worth (seriously) — of grumbling to do about this piece, but for those of you in a hurry, here’s the topline summary: The frame of the piece is that after years of resistance, the Bush administration is coming around on global warming. This spin is supported by a number of vague quotes from anonymous "advisers" and corporate shill environmentalists. However, there is not one single piece of concrete evidence for the thesis. In fact, all available evidence contradicts it.
Baker let himself be played by his sources. Sen. Tom Carper (D-Del.) is eager to show just how much private access he has to the president (ooh, he slipped a note in his pocket!). Fred Krupp of Environmental Defense is eager to provide the president cover. And "anonymous former adviser" (Rove?) seems desperate to burnish Bush’s wretched legacy in his last year in office. (Just yesterday the Bush team sent around an email press release about Bush’s peachy environmental record.)
The piece is a veritable road-map of today’s postmodern media landscape. It deserves to be set in amber for future historians. I’ll be delving further into it shortly.