Solyndra Is “the Royal Wedding of Energy Stories” — and Politico Proves the Point

Politico ran a story this week, “Liberals unhappy with Solyndra focus.” It mentions Climate Progress by name and cites the data we posted on the disproportionate coverage the loan to the failed solar company received. Thanks for that, Politico!

But long before then, it mischaracterizes progressives and the complaint that we made. The piece opens:

Liberals and environmental activists desperately trying to change the narrative away from Solyndra are simultaneously working to throw the White House and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton under the bus with another energy trouble spot.

The Nation, The Huffington Post, Daily Kos, Grist, Climate Progress and Media Matters have run editorials and articles in recent weeks bemoaning the “out of proportion” Solyndra coverage and drawing attention to the State Department’s pending review of the Keystone XL crude oil pipeline that would connect Canada’s Tar Sands to the Gulf Coast.

Uhh, no. I’m going to repost the full debunking of this spin by Dave Roberts at Grist below, but here is his dead-on key point:

The whole point of the critique has been to expose the fact that another group of people, a group unremittingly hostile to Obama and clean energy, are desperately trying to focus the narrative on Solyndra — and they’re succeeding!

… Republican talking points are delivered as first-order news. Liberal talking points are wrapped in meta-news about liberals and their talking points. It makes liberals sound defensive and manipulative, and it’s condescending as sh*t.

Indeed, maybe my opening sentence should have been “Politico desperately trying to defend its excessive coverage of Solyndra.”


When cable news was criticized for excessive coverage of the Royal wedding, many used that opportunity to just do another Royal Wedding story — on whether the coverage was excessive. Crafty folks, those media mavens.

UPDATE: Daily Kos has a good analysis of how Politico’s coverage is skewed toward treating Solyndra — but not Keyston XL — as a scandal.

The Politico quoted me correctly later on, but missed the point — the coverage actually was (and still is) disproportionate:

The liberal blog Climate Progress — run by the Center for American Progress — earlier this month dubbed Solyndra “the royal wedding of energy stories.”

It counted 190 mentions of Solyndra from Aug. 31 to Sept. 23 spanning 10 hours of coverage on the major television networks — ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, CNN and MSNBC — while in the same time period, the Keystone XL pipeline didn’t get a single mention on the networks.

I do media criticism on Climate Progress. My point was that the coverage was, in fact, excessive, as with the Royal Wedding:


So Pew Research found that the media over-reported the Royal Wedding but under-reported rising gas/oil prices. Darn you Pew Research for desperately trying to change the narrative to things the public actually care about!

Here is what the inimitable Dave Roberts has to say on the subject: