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Seriously, what is the @WashingtonPost doing?

February 13th, 2018 · No Comments

Evidently enraptured by the glowing reviews that the New York Times hiring of (climate) science dissembler (amid other problems) columnist Bret Stephens generated, The Washington Post opinion section just added ‘both sides’ specialist Meghan McArdle to their pages.  McArdle often reads as if emergent from Koch Industries public relations.

A few quick examples:

About London’s Grenfell Tower tragedy,

Megan McArdle, a Bloomberg View columnist who thought it’d be a good idea to “‘well yeah but” a literal towering inferno.” McArdle’s subhead reveals why people are aghast at the heartlessness of her piece: “Perhaps safety rules could have saved some residents. But at what cost to others’ lives? There’s always a trade-off.”

Don’t bother reading the rest–it’s not worth the time or headache. But do remember this callous indifference to human life next time she writes a defense of Exxon or condemnation of climate “alarmists.”

As that Koch comment above, it isn’t casually suggested.  First, when it comes to Grenfell, McArdle’s piece did read like it came from the Koch PR office. But, more broadly, the Koch-McArdle ties are real:

McArdle’s views are probably never going to differ from those of the Koch brothers, for a number of reasons. While she’’s been a columnist for a while at respectable outlets like Bloomberg and even the left-leaning Atlantic, her Koch-nections run deep.

For one, she’s married to Peter Suderman, who, before becoming features editorat Koch-funded Reason Magazine, worked for the Koch’s Freedomworks and CEI. We’ll give McArdle the benefit of the doubt that her husband’s paycheck has nothing to do with her opinions and is only an unusual coincidence.

This ‘benefit of the doubt’ does matter. While one might scratch one’s head, one should not damn someone due to what a member of their family does without other supporting details.

However, a look at McArdle’s professional history shows significant Koch influence. … impressively in-depth list of McArdle’s conflicts of interest … begin with her training at the Koch’s Institute for Humane Studies journalism program, to which she returned in 2011 as a guest lecturer and instructor. … McArdle is also a frequent attendee and moderator of Koch-network events, including her duties MCing the 50th anniversary of the Institute for Humane Studies, and was praised by them for her work “re-branding the Republican party.

Seriously, Washington Post, what are you doing?  Do you really think that your readership wants a(nother) Koch-Brothers mouthpiece gracing the pages? You already have Krauthammer, Will, Samuelson, and too many other fossil fools eating up column inches.  Or, is the issue that they are PMS (pale, male, and stale) fossil fuel shills and you are seeking to change the demographics in that climate-denial, anti-government, deceiving pool of authors?

UPDATE: McArdle’s hire has caught others’ attention.  At Paste, Jason Rhodes Megan McArdle Is the Poster Child for Failing Upward in America is a must read for anyone concerned about journalism and how The Washington Post‘s hiring of her degrades the paper.

Paste does not publish wedding announcements. However, there’s an exception to every rule. Today, we congratulate the Koch Brothers and the Washington Post on their new marriage. Libertarian Megan McArdle—a lifelong friend to the Koch empire—was just welded to the Washington Post’s Opinion page. The Post’s new motto is “Democracy Dies in Darkness.” We’ve all been misreading that statement. It wasn’t a warning, but a threat. And there’s no darkness visible like Megan McArdle.

I promise I’m not overstating the problem, as the doctor said to the corpse. McArdle’s biography can be written in one sentence: a shallow, mean rich kid is hired by billionaires to abuse poor people and praise kitchen implements. Every detail about her existence can be folded up like origami into that single statement, the way the whole Christian religion is contained in John 3:16.

And, in terms of understanding yet another way in which the Post‘s hiring of McArdle merits questioning, what about basic journalistic ethics:

According to SusanOfTexas, McArdle happened to leave The Atlantic “right after she was caught lying by omission on her conflict-of-interest disclosures, leaving out or underplaying most of her extensive connections to Koch-created and fed institutions.”

Excellent tweet stream from science communication special Aaron Huertas:

 

NOTE: Regretfully, trying to keep up with questionable science reporting and anti-science opinion writing in The Washington Post could easily be a full-time job.  Here are a few items, from over the years, which provide a window on “Post Opinions” fostering and promotion of science confusion.

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Tags: journalism · Right Wing Sound Machine (RWSM) · SciComm · Science Communication · science denial · Washington Post

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