The Republican 2012 campaign starts with environmentalist surrogates

The online environmental magazine Grist has just published a great example of how the Republican Party plans to beat President Obama by using "progressives" and "environmentalists" as fronts for their misinformation. Under President Obama and Lisa Jackson the EPA has been moving rapidly forward to protect the environment against a number of threats from coal burning power plants: regulating mercury and other toxic releases and starting to regulate greenhouse gases. Both Republicans and conservative coal state Democrats in Congress are desperate to overturn these rules to please their corporate masters and they have a big lever: they can hold the whole federal budget and the stability of the country and the recovery hostage by attaching their override to the emergency budget bill. Basically, they are saying "Leash the EPA or the economy is going to die." The problem they have is that the rules are popular and even in the coal states, Congress has to worry about voter backlash. So the answer is to turn it from a controversy about Congress attempting to overrule the EPA into a controversy over President Obama "caving". Instead of "Congress threatens to kill the economy if EPA protects the environment", the plan is to make the headlines be "Obama betrays environment, shows himself weak and untrustworthy AGAIN" - nicely fitting into their existing narrative. Fortunately for the GOP, a compliant media and eager "progressives" and "environmentalists" are ready to cooperate just in time for the start of the re-election campaign. Which brings us to Glenn Hurowitz, todays deeply concerned "environmentalist" who feels a need to point the finger of blame at the President. Mr. Hurowitz began with this:
The Associated Press is reportingthat the White House is insisting to congressional Democrats that they endorse Republicans' proposed environmental rollbacks.
A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House's position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private.

It's not clear which proposals the White House might accept, but those backed by Republicans would block the government from carrying out regulations on greenhouse gases, putting in place a plan to clean up the Chesapeake Bay and from shutting down mountaintop mines it believes will cause too much water pollution.

Wow! Now the first thing I do when I see something like this from the infamous Associated Press is look up the journalist, a fellow named Andrew Taylor. And it turns out he has a file over at Media Matters.
AP labeled Obey a "free-spending progressive" June 06, 2006 11:43 am ET SUMMARY: Associated Press reporter Andrew Taylor wrote in an article that a "boatload" of "liberal-leaning" Democrats would chair committees should the Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in the November elections and, without pointing to any speeches, votes, or any other specific action, referred to Rep. David Obey (D-WI) as "a free-spending progressive." Taylor added, again without offering any specific evidence, that Obey is an "unapologetic liberal" who has been an "ardent opponent of GOP efforts to clamp down of [sic] domestic agency budgets that Congress approves each year." Media matters
And
At an October 5 press conference, House ethics committee chairman Doc Hastings (R-WA) announced that the committee had voted unanimously to form a subcommittee to investigate the scandal surrounding Rep. Mark Foley (R-FL). But even though Hastings also stated during the press conference that House Speaker J. Dennis Hastert (R-IL) "has done an excellent job," few media outlets noted his reputation as a Hastert loyalist or his controversial actions since being appointed committee chairman by the GOP House leadership in February 2005. [...] An Associated Press article by reporter Andrew Taylor, meanwhile, made no mention of the committee's controversial recent history. Media Matters
And even something specifically on budgets.
In a February 1 Associated Press article on the passage of a $463.5 billion spending bill in the House of Representatives, staff writer Andrew Taylor reported that there were "hard feelings" among congressional Republicans "over how Democrats powered the bill through the House: just an hour of debate time, no amendments allowed." But the article ignored the reason why the stopgap measure was necessary: prior to the close of the 109th Congress in 2006, the Republican congressional majority decided not to deal with nine spending bills -- a fact that Taylor himself reported at the time and that Democrats repeatedly cited in response to Republican complaints about the budget process.
So let's review. The EPA took a lot of heat for a variety of strong regulations that it took as part of President Obama's environmental initiatives. And an AP reporter with a documented history of carrying water for the Republicans publishes a story in which an anonymous "lawmaker" who is "familiar" with discussions said the that the White House was lobbying to have GOP restrictions on the EPA included in the budget bill. That is, the White House wanted to have Congress reduce the power of the President in the cause of halting the President's own environmental initiatives. Let's read it again just to get the full flavor
A Democratic lawmaker familiar with a meeting Wednesday between Obama and members of the Congressional Black Caucus said the administration made it clear that some House GOP proposals restricting the Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory powers would have to make it into the final bill. In order to characterize the White House's position, the lawmaker insisted on anonymity because the meeting was private.
And then, Grist had to write the following
Yesterday, we repeated an Associated Press report which said that President Obama was banding with the GOP to force the EPA to walk the plank -- or, well, looking to compromise with the GOP by curtailing EPA's regulatory powers as part of budget negotiations.

Shows what we get for trusting the AP. The White House today declared the rumors of pernicious overcompromising with the GOP -- on this matter, at least -- to be false. (The Grist writer in question has since been keelhauled.) The administration opposes the riders that would block or limit the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases, said a spokesperson. GRIST

But meanwhile the original story has circulated around the country and Mr.Hurowitz doubled down.

Meanwhile, a range of Democrats have been following the White House's lead and rushing to embrace the fossil fuel industries and other polluters. Democrat Sens. Debbie Stabenow of Michigan (LCV score 100) and Max Baucus of Montana went so far as to issue their own bills to gut the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases.

Imagine that, the AP rumor has now turned into a citable fact, even though Grist has apologized for it, and based on this fact we can talk about the White House "lead" that has unaccountably encouraged Senators like Max Baucus to relax his normal environmental vigilance and do something for the coal industry that is so powerful in Montana. There's the GOP game plan on full display. Thank Glenn, for making it so damn easy for the RNC. Grist should maybe make "keelhauling" involve more than a small link to a retraction on one article while a newer article goes on to repeat the charge.


Like what you read? Chip in, keep us going.