Brad DeLong 1, Joshua Green 0

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"Brad DeLong 1, Joshua Green 0"

So Joshua Green, senior editor of The Atlantic, writes a column that says of recent news that 2010 was the hottest year on record:

The news highlighted one of Washington’s biggest failures over the last two years: its inability to advance climate legislation,  It was also a grim reminder that things could get worse. Some crucial policy areas have always been neglected and some initiatives stalled. But rarely has a first-order concern like the nation’s climate and energy policy actually regressed — and so dramatically as we’ve seen since the last presidential election.

Economist Brad DeLong writes a piece in response, “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Press Corps?” pointing out the blame should not be spread around to all of “Washington”:

Now let’s stop right now. The inability to advance climate legislation wasn’t “Washington’s” failure: it was a failure of Republican legislators, their tame hacks and propagandists, the carbon-energy lobby, and coal-state Democratic legislators.

Joshua Green knows who the culprits are as well as I do. But for some reason he does not believe he can say so in his lead.

Why not, Joshua? Why not?

Why oh why can’t we have a better press corps?

Fair enough.

But in a column titled, “Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Blogosphere?” Green replies weakly:

Like pigs sniffing for truffles, some liberal bloggers specialize in rooting around for instances where lazy journalists have blamed both parties for a sin that’s attributable to just one (Republicans). By and large, this is a useful endeavor, and Berkeley economist Brad Delong has a pretty good sniffer. But it led him astray when he zeroed in [update: link fixed] on my recent column about the failure to pass climate legislation as an example of the genre. The column bemoaned the fact that Washington has not only failed to make significant progress on stopping climate change, but has actually regressed–and could do so further, since Republicans will target EPA regulations. That wasn’t enough for Delong, who thinks Republicans deserve 100 percent of the blame for this sorry state of affairs. But he’s wrong, and ought to know better. Unlike, say, health care reform, climate issues generally break down by geographic region rather than by party. Many midwestern and coal-state Democrats opposed cap and trade as staunchly as any Republican. Those who didn’t, like Rep. Rick Boucher (D-Va.), lost their jobs. And the most vivid example of opposition to cap and trade didn’t come from a Republican, but from a Democrat, Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who went so far as to cut an ad that showed him shooting a bullet through the cap and trade bill.

#FAIL

No serious debating points were scored there, I’m afraid.  First off, DeLong didn’t assign 100% of blame to Republicans.  Nor do I — For me, the GOP and it’s anti-science, pro-pollution allies in corporate American and the conservative movement who support the vast right wing disinformation campaign get about 60% of the blame (see “The failed presidency of Barack Obama, Part 2” and “The GOP flip flops on cap and trade“).  The media gets 30% of the blame — including the center-right Atlantic which has had some dreadful stuff on the subject, especially by Senior Editor Clive Crook (see “And the 2010 Citizen Kane award for non-excellence in climate journalism goes to “¦“).

Green offers false balance in this statement:

Unlike, say, health care reform, climate issues generally break down by geographic region rather than by party. Many midwestern and coal-state Democrats opposed cap and trade as staunchly as any Republican.

The reason that analysis is flawed is that the GOP overwhelmingly opposes climate action no matter where they came from — even if they once supported action, as with McCain.  On the other hand, many coal-state Dems supported a climate bill — and it is widely believed that even Robert Byrd would have voted for a final bill, but in any case he was not a staunch opponent like the vast majority of Republicans.   What coal-state Republican would ever say “Coal Must Embrace The Future: The truth is that some form of climate legislation will likely become public policy because most American voters want a healthier environment” or call the effort to block EPA action a vote “to dismiss scientific facts” about climate change?

The Manchin ad is beyond irrelevant to this ‘debate’ since the climate bill had already died by the time it aired, as I noted at the time — see Can Gov. Manchin kill something that’s already dead? Guess that’s why they call it ‘almost’ heaven The ad did go to show how irreplaceable Robert Byrd had become.

There is much blame to go around, but it shouldn’t be too much to ask to lay most of the blame where it is deserved:

Joshua Green

Joshua Green – Joshua Green is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a weekly political columnist for the Boston Globe.

Joshua Green is a senior editor of The Atlantic and a weekly political columnist for the Boston Globe. He has also written for The New Yorker, Esquire, Rolling Stone, and other publications. Previously, he was an editor at The Washington Monthly. He began his career as an editor at the satirical weekly, The Onion (back at a time when that failed to impress anyone). His writing has been anthologized in books ranging from The Best American Political Writing 2009 to The Bob Marley Reader.

Why Oh Why Can’t We Have a Better Blogosphere?

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12 Responses to Brad DeLong 1, Joshua Green 0

  1. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    The reason that the mainstream media in market capitalist economies are so despicable is plain. As Chomsky and Herman showed in ‘Manufacturing Consent’ and as commonsense tells one after only a few excursions into that universe of lies, distortions and humbug, the MSM act as a propaganda system for their owners, and the market capitalist system that enriches those owners far beyond their human worth. As far as the masters are concerned anthropogenic climate change is like everything else in existence-a question of money. If more money (trillions in fact) can be made destroying the planet, and that destruction occurs after the pluto-kleptocrats are dead, then ‘Where’s the problem?’. Journalists are carefully screened for ideological correctness, and deviation from group-think is career terminating. Career journalists are ‘stenographers to power’, who over-compensate for their craven service to the money power by developing hypertrophied and contemptible illusions of their intelligence and probity.

  2. nen says:

    meanwhile 2010 saw the second highest rise in global CO2 levels – 2.6ppm increase, ahead of 2002’s 2.4ppm increase and behind 1998’s 2.9ppm increase

    http://www.esrl.noaa.gov/gmd/ccgg/trends/global.html

    I guess it’s only a matter of time until we hit the first year with a 3ppm rise

  3. Adam R. says:

    Brad DeLong is easily the winner here.

    Damning the Republicans for their obstructionism is shooting fish in a barrel. The bad actors who really have been getting off lightly are their media enablers at the TV networks, the Atlantic, the Washington Post, the NY Times and other MSM who have failed in their responsibility to report the science accurately and, time after time, lazily presented false equivalency in their reporting.

  4. George Ennis says:

    I gave up my Atlantic subscription.

    I found the reporting including that on climate change issues to be uneven in quality.

    The Atlantic has bought into the meme, that the facts on climate change depend on ones place on the political spectrum i.e. conservative or liberal. They seem to have lost sight of the fact that everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts. Once you buy into the idea that reality can be manufactured and opinions shaped accordingly there is really no need for journalists, a publicist or stenographer will do just fine.

    However, for me as a citizen I can hardly be expected to pay for such advertising.

  5. Solar Jim says:

    Maybe The Atlantic can not read The New Yorker. (Aug 30, 2010? about Koch) and all of the vast literature (The Heat is On, Climate Cover-Up, etc.) clearly shows the pattern, unless your money comes with bias attached. And what was that garbage from James Fallows about “clean” coal, as I remember from this magazine. Got spin?

  6. Barry says:

    Just look at the ads in much of the MSM like the Atlantic, NYTimes and Economist. It is a parade of high-climate-damage luxury. Flying vacations, gas guzzlers, oil companies, cruises, hyper-gadgetry and all the carbon-laden big life froo-froo.

    There is a self-reinforcing interweaving of aspirations between readers, writers and advertisers to keep the “big carbon power life” thundering along.

  7. Robert Nagle says:

    Please, let’s not pick on magazines like the Atlantic — which are overall doing a fine job at covering the crisis. If you blame the media, you have to blame the TV media (which are inclined to offer more shallow coverage, bogus balance and weather reports which don’t even mention climate change). Here’s an idea: can’t a major news outlet refuse ad dollars from companies known for climate-unfriendly actions? And why should PBS be more selective about which companies it receives sponsorship from?

    [JR: Actually, the Atlantic isn’t doing a great job.]

  8. Louise says:

    You may find this interesting – the guest list especially so.

    http://judithcurry.com/2011/01/24/lisbon-workshop-on-reconciliation-in-the-climate-change-debate/#comment-34409

    “This week, I will be in Lisbon attending a Workshop on Reconciliation in the Climate Change Debate.”

  9. Jeffrey Davis says:

    DeLong: a failure of Republican legislators, their tame hacks and propagandists, the carbon-energy lobby, and coal-state Democratic legislators.

    Green: That wasn’t enough for Delong, who thinks Republicans deserve 100 percent of the blame for this sorry state of affairs.

    Why can’t we have a better press corps? Well, either they have the reading comprehension of a snail, the memory of a flickering light bulb, or they’re liars.

  10. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    Louise#9, ‘reconciliation’ with liars and distorters whose deliberate disinformation has brought humanity to the brink of destruction. Let’s hear it for ‘reconciliation’ with death camp commandants and their hard-working operatives too, or those tireless toilers in the human organ trade. This has the familiar stench of Lomborg about it.

  11. Mulga Mumblebrain says:

    No sign of Lomborg, but, guess what- Fred Pearce of The Guardian alongside his new playmates. Go on Fred-let it all hang out! Easy, stomach. And in Lisbon, one of my favourite cities!