Wash. Post Gives Polluters a Free Pass on Dirty Money & Lies


In today’s Washington Post, the top story spends its first 15 paragraphs detailing Big Oil’s massive campaign against clean energy while incredibly avoiding any mention of one little detail: money.

In fact, to believe the first 15 paragraphs, the reason polluters have such a strong voice in the national debate is because conservation groups are “struggling” and “slow.” Not a single mention of polluters’ massive money advantage in the first 540 words.

Then, almost as an afterthought, the Post drops this in as paragraph 16:

Oil and natural gas groups have always had deeper pockets. In the first six months of 2009, the Center for Responsive Politics found they spent $82.1 million lobbying Washington on various issues, including climate policy. In the same time, environmental and health groups concerned with climate change spent about $6.6 million on lobbying and clean-energy firms $12.1 million, according to two other analyst groups, the Center for Public Integrity and New Energy Finance.

But those figures don’t even come close to telling the real story of the financial disparity between polluters and conservationists. Exxon Mobil alone – just one of many oil and coal giants – turned a $40 billion profit in 2007. That was the largest profit in the history of the planet (#2 on the list: also Exxon Mobil, 2006).

Of course, that’s just profit. Exxon Mobil’s annual revenue in 2007 was $404.5 billion. Exxon Mobil alone has an annual budget hundreds of times that of every conservation group put together.

And as we’ve covered, polluters are using that money not to push facts, but to push distortions, lies, and outright fraud. But again, the Washington Post gives a free pass — mentioning pro-polluter contacts to Congress without mentioning many of those have been proven to be phony and funded by industry front groups.

People often ask me if I’m disappointed by polls showing six in ten Americans support clean energy & climate legislation. With energy price spikes and a climate in crisis, shouldn’t the numbers be higher?

But with Big Oil’s big money and free passes like this from the media, my response is that I’m constantly amazed that Americans see right through the lies and misinformation to support what’s right for our economy now and for our children’s future. I just hope the Senate follows their constituents’ lead this fall to pass a strong clean energy & climate bill.

Image courtesy Office of Australian Senator Rachel Siewert: Chris Twomey

Published: August 31, 2009