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Rep Blumenauer Challenges George Will to a Debate on Portland

By Matthew Yglesias on May 20, 2009 at 10:01 am

"Rep Blumenauer Challenges George Will to a Debate on Portland"

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Hot in my inbox, a statement from Representative Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), who represents Portland in Congress and is one of the main leaders on transportation policy in the House, responding to George Will’s cranky anti-Portland column:

“In his article, Mr. Will proves that he is mired in a one-dimensional past, one that the city of Portland has successfully overcome. He opposes policies that will provide Americans with more choices while saving them money, creating jobs and protecting the environment. In Portland we have been able to increase productivity, boost our economy, and invest in our city’s resources by taking a well-rounded approach to transportation. Secretary LaHood shares this comprehensive view on transportation options for our nation—its not about behavior modification its about giving Americans the freedom to choose more than just the highway or byway.

Rather than pontificate about practicality from a far, I challenge Mr. Will to come experience Portland, and then debate the facts, the future and the visions we offer. I am proud to defend the Portland model so painstakingly developed and implemented over the last 1/3 of a century. Maybe he will understand why young well educated people move here without jobs and older, well established business and professional people won’t leave for jobs that pay more. We will be happy to buy his plane ticket and give him a bottle of Oregon pinot to die for.

I’m mostly wondering what Newsweek intends to do about the large, material factual error in Will’s column. When Will penned an error-ridden Washington Post column on climate change, the Post steadfastly refused to issue a correction and key Post personnel defended Will’s right to lie in the Post’s pages. Strangely, during the weeks of ensuing controversy the Post ran several opinion pieces that, accurately, pointed out that Will was misleading people and some of the Post’s news personnel offered similar comments. Still, Will’s editors and the Post opinion section continued to stand solidly behind the principle that accuracy isn’t important to them—at least as long as George Will is the author.

Newsweek is an editorially separate entity, but also owned by The Washington Post Company. Perhaps the Post’s decision to greenlight lying led Will to believe he could get away with similar misrepresentations in Newsweek. I’ll be interested to see if that proves to be the case.

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