The all-day grilling of Secretary of Energy Steven Chu over the Solyndra bankruptcy by the House energy oversight subcommittee was an eye-glazing embarrassment, reporters agreed. Rep. Cliff Stearns (R-FL) tried to defend his belief that the United States can’t compete with China on clean technology by attacking Chu, even calling for his firing. “America faces a simple choice: compete or accept defeat,” Chu shot back at Stearns in the hearing. “I believe we can and must compete.”
Without any evidence of wrongdoing, the Republican-led hearing drove outside observers to tears. “Stop it with the Solyndra nonsense,” Scientific American energy editor David Biello pleaded on Twitter. “Just stop it.”
Fortune editor Dan Primack scathed the hearing as a colossal waste of time:
My eyes have glazed over. I’m hungry, dumber than I was this morning and very angry with myself.
Don’t be coy, you know what I’m copping to having done: I spent almost the entire workday watching yet another Congressional hearing on the Solyndra “scandal.”
This is at least the third such hearing, all in a flailing effort by GOP reps to prove that Solyndra wasn’t simply an honest loan gone bad, but rather an example of corruption and self-dealing in the Obama White House. For all the talk about this deal, there still has not yet been any actual evidence — including cherry-picked emails released by the Republican-led committee — that Solyndra received its $535 million government loan because of crony capitalism. And that remains the case, after five hours of testimony from U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu.
The Solyndra witch hunt has been fueled especially by Politico, whose large team of energy reporters have fixated on the story. Two-thirds of Politico energy stories since Sept. 12 have been on Solyndra. Senior energy and environment reporter Darren Samuelsohn has dominated the coverage, with 90 percent of his prolific output dedicated to fluffing up the Solyndra “scandal.”