The White House Bothers to Mislead on Global Warming: Will the White House Press Corps Care?

Chris Mooney highlights the hypocrisy of the White House regarding global warming, forcing the conflict between the President’s private and public views into the open.

In private, George Bush is a denialist: According to "Rebel-in-Chief," admirer Fred Barnes’ just-published inside look at the President, "…Bush is a dissenter on global warming. To the extent it’s a problem, Bush believes it can be solved by technology. He avidly read Michael Crichton’s 2004 novel State of Fear, whose villain falsifies scientific studies to justify draconian steps to avoid global warming. Crichton himself has studied the issue extensively and concluded that global warming is an unproven theory and that the threat is vastly overstated. Early in 2005, political adviser Karl Rove arranged for Crichton to meet with Bush at the White House. They talked for an hour and were in near-perfect agreement. The visit was not made public for fear of outraging environmentalists all the more." (pp22-23)

In public, Michelle St. Martin, a White House spokesperson quoted in yesterday’s NYTimes, "pointed to several speeches in which Mr. Bush had acknowledged the impact of global warming and the need to confront it, even if he questioned the degree to which humans contribute to it."

What’s interesting here is that the White House feels the need to deny the obvious. If the President isn’t going to mention global warming in a State of the Union speech largely devoted to convincing the country that we have an unhealthy "addiction to oil," why bother with the hypocrisy now?

But it does raise the question: Which speeches? Before he was allowed to assume office, Bush did speak about global warming and the need to reduce carbon emissions, but all that was forgotten as soon he took residence in the White House. Since then only when pressed very hard–by the likes of Tony Blair–does Bush even mention climate change and global warming. It’s a bit like Ronald Reagan and AIDS.

Perhaps this allegation of caring will be worth a follow-up question, but if I know the White House press corps, they won’t bother. (As discussed below, I went through the entire month of January in the press gaggle transcripts looking for questions on the environment. How many did the press corps ask? Zero.)

In today’s LATimes, Jonathan Chait tartly points out why this may be: "The rules of political journalism hold that reporters aren’t supposed to take sides in debates over public policy…You quote one side’s claims, you counter with the other side’s claims, and you make no attempt to establish which side is right. After all, there’s nothing at stake in these debates but trillions of dollars and the odd war. Bor-ing."

Not to mention the health of the planet that supports us.

Published by Kit Stolz

I'm a freelance reporter and writer based in Ventura County.

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