A Classic Bad Republican/Good Environmentalist Story – Despite Facts
By: Warner Todd Huston
Reuters wants us to know that Republican Senators who block honors for â€œenvironmentalist pioneersâ€ are bad but they donâ€™t want to just come right out and say so, of course. So, they write a story that presents the environut in question as akin to a saint and the Republican Senator as somehow â€œarbitraryâ€ and mean. This particular story from Reuters is a classic example of advocacy on the sly by presenting the â€œwrongâ€ side of the issue as the uninformed or mean protagonist to the innocent and well meaning good guys.
In question is an honorific for what many imagine is the Godmother of the environut movement, Rachel Carson, the woman responsible for destroying the reputation of DDT, a life-saving insecticide that once helped control a killer called malaria all over the world. A resolution to honor Carsonâ€™s 100th birthday was to be introduced by Marylandâ€™s Democrat Senator Ben Cardin, but Cardin put the brakes on his plans when it became clear that Senator Tom Coburn (R, OK) would use Senate rules to oppose the effort.
Reuters sets the subtle tone of chastisement for the Republican Senator with the title of their piece: Senator blocks honor for environmental pioneer. Eeeevil, mean Senator! Bad, bad man. And attacking a nice â€œpioneerâ€, yet!
The first two paragraphs present Senator Coburn as some lone man (obviously a nut, eh?) who â€œbelievesâ€ that Rachel Carson was wrong in her â€œpioneeringâ€ environmentalist work.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A plan to honor environmental pioneer and “Silent Spring” author Rachel Carson on her centennial on Sunday was blocked by a U.S. senator who believes Carson created a climate of “hysteria and misinformation.”
Sen. Tom Coburn derailed approval of a Senate resolution honoring the life of Carson, whose 1962 book “Silent Spring” warned of the dangers posed to wildlife and humans by the pesticide DDT and who is credited with inspiring the modern environmental movement.
Notice the subtleties? Coburn â€œbelievesâ€, Coburn â€œderailedâ€. But Carson was a â€œpioneerâ€ and â€œinspiredâ€ the â€œmodernâ€ environmental movement. Notice the negative language for Republican Coburn but positive language for the environut?
It gets worse for Senator Coburn whose side of the argument is couched as just his belief, not one supported by any consensus, where as Carson is hailed as the best and brightest that everyone just loves.
Sen. Ben Cardin, a Maryland Democrat who planned the Senate honor for Carson and expected an easy approval in time for what would have been her 100th birthday, was taken by surprise by Coburnâ€™s decision to block it.
“Rachel Carson has been an inspiration to a generation of environmentalists, scientists and biologists who made a difference and changed the irresponsible use of pesticides,” Cardin said in a telephone interview. “Honoring her 100th birthday should not be controversial. I wanted to share that with our country.â€
Notice how Reuters gives Ben Cardin the forum to say how shocking this effort by Coburn is? Notice also how Rueters gives Carson the mantle of non-controversial figure that is an â€œinspirationâ€ to a generation that changed â€œirresponsible use of pesticidesâ€?
Then Reuters gives Cardin the opportunity to claim that Senator Coburn is just bowing to money grubbing, industry lobbyists that wants to make money from DDT without giving Coburn any room to protest that view of his stand.
Cardin said Coburn’s rejection of the honor for Carson was inappropriate and arbitrary.
“What Sen. Coburn is doing is basically citing the line of the interest groups … because they had an economic interest in DDT,â€ Cardin said.
Ah, the old heâ€™s-just-in-it-for-the-money jab! I suppose that we couldnâ€™t be permitted to believe that Senator Coburn truly believes that the banning of DDT is responsible for killing millions since the 1970â€™s, could we?
The Reuters piece ends by showing us how everyone but Coburn loves environmentalist Carson:
Carson, who died in 1964, will not go without tributes on Sunday: there will be a celebration and feast at her family homestead in Springdale, Pennsylvania, and the Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh has an exhibit in her honor
Itâ€™s almost as if Reuters was saying, â€œSee? That darned old money grubbing Coburn is an idiot! Everyone ELSE loves our Rachel!â€
Yes, this is a classically subtle hatchet job on a Republican meant to bring the reader to the conclusion that Coburn is out in left field on an issue that everyone else understands, that this money grubbing Republican is just a fool.
But, Coburn isnâ€™t the only person who is attacking the death laden legacy of Rachel Carson. More and more people are realizing that her famous book, Silent Spring, was full of unsupported opinion and junk science. Even initial admirers of her realized her lies were monumental. (Left-winger Ronald Bailey has also outed Carson as a danger to mankind.)
But, Reuters didnâ€™t see their way clear to tell us that story, only to assure us that everyone but Coburn thought this â€œpioneerâ€ was worth honoring.
Just one more example of advocacy replacing â€œjournalismâ€ in our world today.