While I was wandering around on YouTube I stumbled across a segment from CNBC featuring Ana Unruh Cohen, Director of Environmental Policy at the Center for American Progress and periodic Gristmill contributor, squaring off with Ben Lieberman from the Heritage Foundation. The subject was possible changes in energy policy under the new Democratic Congress. Watch it:
Ana stays relentlessly on message, getting a few simple talking points from CAP out into the media bloodstream. Good for her.
How she manages to do so in the face of a dippy host who parrots conservative talking points and an interlocutor whose thin veneer of a justification for industry shilling is so manifestly absurd, self-contradictory, and self-serving as to defy description … it mystifies me.
This is a good illustration of why I could never be on TV. First off, I get mad, and cable TV — mainstream media generally — equates passion with shrillness, naivete, or bias.
Second, in the heat of the moment, I can never resist an argument. Media training for talking heads on cable news stresses a simple rule: get your message out. Say what you came to say, no matter what you’re asked or what the other talking heads are saying.
When Hairbrain McHostess asked, "is more regulation the answer, like we’re likely to see under the Democrats, or should we rely on markets?" I would have laughed out loud. I couldn’t sit there and pretend I’m in a serious discussion.
For the zillionth time, WTF do “markets” have to do with the current state of affairs on energy policy? After a century of subsidies, tax breaks, lies, bullying, lobbying, infrastructure investment, uncounted externalities, and imperialism, we’re really supposed to think disinterested, unhampered commerce put oil and coal at the top of the heap? Or that removing the few wan restrictions in place on their development is some sort of step toward a “free” market?
Markets are not invisible forces hovering in the ether. They’re the sum effect of hundreds of years of social and economic programming. They’ll do what they’ve been programmed to do until we program them differently. Freedom’s got nothing to do with it.
Anyway, I would have tried to say all that on air and ended up looking like a tool. So congrats to Ana on her discipline.