I’m way, way, waaay behind on this one, but I nonetheless want to draw your attention to two pieces on the massive, ongoing PR push from the nuclear industry.

The first is an editorial in the Columbia Journalism Review on the maddening phenomenon of mainstream news reporters accepting the claims of paid shills (i.e., Patrick Moore and Christie Todd Whitman) at face value, without making clear their relationship to the nuclear industry.

The second is a more extensive and well-documented piece called “Moore Spin: Or, How Reporters Learned to Stop Worrying and Love Nuclear Front Groups,” by Diane Farsetta. It surveys the entire panoply of PR efforts underway by the nuke industry — and quite a panoply it is. You’d almost have to admire it, if it didn’t make you want to puke. And by “you” I mean “me.”

Here’s the kick-ass conclusion to this kick-ass piece:

Entergy [owner/operator of 10 nuke plants] and NEI [nuke industry group] spend millions of dollars doing media outreach, under their own names. Both spend millions more to lobby federal officials. From 1998 to 2004, Entergy spent $13.5 million and NEI spent $9.7 million on federal lobbying, according to the Center for Public Integrity’s LobbyWatch database.

But both, while using solely their own names, failed to garner significant public support. So both formed “coalitions” and “alliances,” designed to deliver essentially the same pro-nuclear message. Unlike the funders behind classic front groups, NEI and Entergy admit their role in CASEnergy or NY AREA, Mass AREA and Vermont Energy Partnership, respectively. But that disclosure is done in a whisper, with a nod and wink, and sloppy reporting takes care of the rest.

The end result is the same — instead of a fully informed and vigorous public debate on complex energy issues, the United States is having a lopsided discussion. And the nuclear power industry isn’t just dominating it; it has several seats at the table.

Read-the-whole-thing’o’meter: pegged. Especially if you’re a mainstream reporter. Yeah, I’m looking at you.