Today we were treated on the forum page to a long opinion piece on "Destroying Affordable Energy" by Murray Energy CEO Robert Murray. Murray uses lots and lots and lots of statistics with next-to-no indication of where they came from. The only evidence cited is a recent study from Energy Ventures Analysis which I previously noted was funded by the coal industry and one by McKinsey and Company which concluded that the coal industry would get smaller. Additionally, Vladimir Putin is quoted because he recently said that he doesn't believe in global warming. (Ever notice that for conservatives Putin should never be trusted unless he agrees with them in which case he suddenly becomes an expert.) There is a lot of biased evidence out there (principally paid for by the extraction industries) and my hunch is that most of Murray's statistics come from these sources -- the article's lack of referencing is the obvious tipoff. Intelligencer editors, here's a thought -- why not use the online version of this article to link to the sources for the statistics as most bloggers do? If they're scientifically-reliable sources, it would clearly give the article a great deal of credibility.
The column also features numerous examples of Obama name-calling (like an old-time movie, you're then allowed to hiss at the villain): "Mr. Obama and his bureaucratic appointees," "the regal Obama Administration, with its appointed, unelected bureaucrats and political supporters," "greatest destroyer and enemy of available, reliable, affordable electricity," and, of course, the old reliable "political power grab of America's power grid."
And he doesn't spare any of the president's environmental-action supporters as Obama appeases his
radical environmentalist, liberal elitist, Hollywood character, some unionist, and other constituents.
Al Gore also gets ridiculed. Why? Isn't there somebody more current than Gore or is he just one of those hate words like "Obama" and "environmentalists" that gets a Pavlovian response from its intended audience at its mere mention. And let us not forget the radical environmental organizations:
there is a huge amount of collusion between Obama Cabinet employees and non-government radical environmental organizations, such as the Sierra Club, Natural Resource Defense Council, American Lung Association, and others.
The American Lung Association is a radical environmental organization? Wow, who knew?
The article comes in at over 2,000 words which is very long by Intelligencer/News-Register standards. (It's four times longer than Saturday's next longest article - the new Stone Center apartments article on the front page.) Is there any new information or fresh perspective offered in the article? No, the article collects all the anti-EPA, anti-Obama attacks and adds them to the climate change denials that we've been reading for years. I seriously think that I am the only person in the Ohio Valley who read all 2,000 words and that was only because I felt obligated once I decided to write about it. My hunch is that the rest of the population, even those who strongly agree with Mr. Murray, read a few paragraphs and quickly moved on -- life is too short to waste time reading an endless rehash of the same old talking points.
Why then was this 2,000 word article printed? Robert Murray may be the real owner of the Wheeling "newspapers" as I've semi-joked on a couple of occasions or more likely, he speaks for the coal ownership class and Ogden management has decided that his is the only point of view that counts. As an another example, I would point to the article that ran on the front page of both papers on Friday: "Displaced Coal Miners May Get Relief" by Casey Junkins. It begins:
Some Democratic U.S. senators hoping to reduce pollution associated with burning coal are supporting a new measure they say will help displaced miners by providing $41 billion to transition those workers into "clean energy" jobs.
The next four paragraphs explain how and why the legislation came to be developed and what its sponsors hope that it will accomplish. The following three paragraphs then develop the opposing Republican point of view. So far, so good: we've read what the bill does, what the sponsors hoped to accomplish, and why our local Republican representatives are against it. The next logical step for this article would be ________ (fill in the blank). If you answered "ask some local miners what they think of this proposal," you are correct. Unfortunately, the locals' answer is "ignore the miners who would be affected by the legislation and instead ask coal owner Robert Murray what he thinks." And so, Robert Murray, who recently sued the union that represents his miners, gets to be the spokesperson for those same miners:
Murray said coal miners do not want a "government handout or taxpayer welfare," but "only want to work in honor and dignity."
"Indeed, the lives and livelihoods of these coal miners have been absolutely destroyed by the blatantly illegal policies of the Obama administration, and senators such as Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton," Murray said. "This is yet another crass attempt by these liberal politicians to soothe their own conscience and to neutralize the political power of these coal miners, whose lives have been ruined."
It would not have been hard to talk to some local miners to get their opinion. Perhaps local miners totally agree with Murray. And maybe they don't. We will never know because for our local "newspapers" the only opinion that matters is Robert Murray's.
Update - December 13 - The Sunday News-Register confirms Murray's importance
My hunch is that today's top story in a majority of newspapers was the agreement reached in the Paris climate talks. While the Sunday News-Register did cover the accord elsewhere on the front page, its top story was EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy's comment on the marketability of coal.
Why is this Sunday's most important story? McCarthy's statement that "coal is no longer marketable" was actually made on Thursday and if you Google it you'll find a majority of the sources covered it on Thursday with most of the rest covering it on Friday. And so if we consider timeliness as important to newsworthiness, why the delay? And did any other newspaper find her reaction newsworthy? I could not find any AP mention of her statement and there were no newspapers (excepting the News-Register) in the first five pages of a Google search.
Why, then, is it the News-Register's top story? Read the story and you'll find that the beginning explains McCarthy's remarks and then the next four paragraphs cover Robert Murray and his predictable thoughts on the matter. As I argue above, when it comes to coal, Murray Energy's opinion is the only one that matters to our local "newspapers" even, as it did with the previous Murray Energy story, if it has to wait six days after an event to find out how it should be covered.