Today’s Wheeling newspaper editorials call on state leaders to start searching for ideas for WV’s economic transitioning away from coal
Do you know who had a plan 5 years ago?
From today’s editorials:
West Virginia lawmakers know they can’t put it off any longer. They have to start working to help the people who could be left in the lurch as the state’s economy inevitably transitions. Specifically, state House Speaker Roger Hanshaw, R-Clay, and House Minority Leader Doug Skaff, D-Kanawha, announced earlier this month the creation of a work group to dig up ideas for revitalizing coal communities.
Reading this, I was reminded of a CNN Town Hall in March of 2016, when Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was asked about why economically disadvantaged Americans should vote for her. Here was her response:
Look, we have serious economic problems in many parts of our country. And Roland is absolutely right. Instead of dividing people the way Donald Trump does, let's reunite around policies that will bring jobs and opportunities to all these underserved poor communities.
So for example, I'm the only candidate which has a policy about how to bring economic opportunity using clean renewable energy as the key into coal country. Because we're going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business, right?
And we're going to make it clear that we don't want to forget those people. Those people labored in those mines for generations, losing their health, often losing their lives to turn on our lights and power our factories.
Now we've got to move away from coal and all the other fossil fuels, but I don't want to move away from the people who did the best they could to produce the energy that we relied on.
It would be out of context, but Republicans and most media focused on Clinton's “we’re going to put a lot of coal miners and coal companies out of business.” In particular, our local Ogden papers regularly reminded its readers of Clinton’s words. Earlier today, I did a search of our local papers and it yielded 25 articles, columns, and editorials from March 13 to election day that used Clinton's exact wording.
Ogden’s first editorial showed up four days after Clinton’s remark:
Clinton: She’ll Kill Coal Jobs
And later, from the paper’s Editor:
Clinton In Her Own Words
Most importantly: while I did not check the AP articles that used the phrase, none of the locally-produced articles, editorials, or columns put Clinton's statement in the proper context. Nor did they publish what national fact checkers had pointed out -- that there was a discrepancy between what she had said and how Republicans were using her words. (See here and here for example.)
It is not surprising that the locals never explained the context. As a Republican propaganda outlet, there intention was not to give an honest report -- their mission was to regularly criticize the Democratic candidate. (I would think that most local readers of this blog will remember that attacking Clinton was a regular Ogden editorial page feature in 2016. I covered some of this under the heading “Documenting the local’s anti-Clinton agenda" and I had 21 posts with that title.)
Clinton’s plan was not revolutionary back in 2016 as any number of thoughtful commentators and politicians had previously argued for just such a transition. And it's nice to see that the locals have finally come to acknowledge that change is necessary. Unfortunately, they aren't willing to accept their own role in the state's continuing economic decline. To do so, of course, would mean that they would have to admit that they were wrong and Hillary Clinton was right back in 2016. Sadly, that ain't gonna happen.