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The Wall Street Journal and Pruitt: #FakeReporting



Yesterday, we saw how Hitler demolished Germany’s free press, resulting in dictatorship, world war, the destruction of Germany, and Hitler’s demise by his own hand, as his empire collapsed around him–as evil empires are wont to do. Today, here’s an example of how one media organization–Rupert Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal–is conspiring with Donald J. Trump to destroy the truthful reporting upon which American journalism always has rested.

Having the rightwing Journal columnist Kimberley Strassel get the first interview with Scott Pruitt, Trump’s new Environmental Protection Agency czar, is like having Der Stürmer, one of the official Nazi propaganda magazines, do a profile of Heinrich Himmler on what a good guy he was. In other words, don’t expect any hard-hitting questions, or challenges to demonstrably false assertions.

Strassel issues her first lie right away, when she claims that Pruitt is not a “fierce conservative…who views the agency in a hostile light.” Really? Who was it who sued the EPA at least 13 times? Pruitt. Who says that climate change isn’t anything to worry about? Pruitt. Who has been a shill for the oil and gas industry? Pruitt.

True, in the interview, Pruitt tosses out a few smokescreens to make himself sound less extreme than his record proves he is. For example, he vows—or maybe that’s not the right word, he mentions 1,300 Superfund sites that need to be cleaned up—an EPA responsibility. But whose administration has pledged to slash EPA’s funding? Yes, it’s his boss, Trump, who during the campaign called the EPA “a disgrace” and will likely fire 50% of its employees, according to the person who led his transition team on EPA matters. That would be in keeping with Pruitt’s environmental philosophy; when he was Oklahoma’s Attorney General, he “eliminated the environmental law unit of his office.”

By following this policy that benefits shareholders rather than protecting (as in Environmental Protection Agency) Americans from dirty air and polluted water, Pruitt will do a lot of harm. He is going to “withdraw the Clean Power Plan,” Obama’s premier climate law designed to reduce carbon pollution from power plants. He will kill the 2015 Waters of the United States rule, part of the Clean Water Act, which lets the EPA protect “wetlands, territorial seas, rivers and tributaries, ponds, lakes and bays,” as if clean water were repugnant to Republicans. Pruitt called the legality of both the CPP and the WUS into question; he sued the EPA over them.

How about carbon dioxide, the leading gas associated with the greenhouse effect and global warming? Says Strassel, “Mr. Pruitt says he won’t prejudge the question,” as if there’s not already more than enough evidence for any reasonable person to arrive at a conclusion. That makes Pruitt sound fair-minded; nobody wants an administrator who will “prejudge” issues. But: Will Mr. Pruitt prejudge the question of whether Adam and Eve and little Cain and Abel played with dinosaurs in the Garden of Eden? He may well believe it. Pruitt, a Baptist deacon whose first job, out of law school, was founding something called Christian Legal Services, apparently believes that even if there is climate change, God’s creation, Earth, will “self-correct” in time to save us—hence, man need do nothing. Pressed by Democrats during his confirmation hearings to state whether he believes in the reality of climate change, Pruitt, no doubt due to his religious beliefs, refused to answer. More study is needed, he told Bernie Sanders—to Sanders’ evident astonishment. In Washington, “more study” means “kick the can down the road until everybody forgets about it.”

To Strassel, Pruitt “defies the stereotype of the fierce conservative who wants to destroy the agency he runs.” (“Defies”? Tell that to the EPA employees who are “coming to work in tears” before the massacre begins.) Defensively, Strassel predicts that Pruitt will encounter “considerable hostility” in implementing his plans. From whom? The union that represents EPA’s “bureaucracy.”

Now, “bureaucracy” is one of those dog whistles conservatives love when they’re talking about civil servants who actually believe in the mission of the agencies that employ them. Strassel’s funniest line—although I don’t think she meant it to beis “these bureaucrats have the ability to sabotage his leadership.” Another dog-whistle, that word “sabotage.” Makes EPA’s employees sound like terrorists. How would Strassel describe what the Republican Congress and attack machine did to Obama? “Sabotage” would be accurate (and Strassel was one of the most vicious writers in her hating on Obama and Hillary). Even more ironic is Pruitt’s accusation that President Obama’s EPA believed that that “the States are a vessel of Federal will. They were aggressive about dictating to the States and displacing their authority.”

Yes, we all know that Republicans love state’s rights! Question time: Will President Trump allow states to determine which undocumented immigrants stay? Will President Trump allow states to bring in Muslims from the seven countries, if his ban passes? Will President Trump leave it to states to allow women to have abortions? Will President Obama allow the states and cities to have sanctuary policies? Is President Trump going to leave it to the states to determine if a florist or baker can discriminate against gay people? Will Trump allow states to retain Obamacare if they want to?

So much for state’s rights.

So, more than a little Orwellian doublespeak. This “opinion” piece is really extraordinary for Strassel’s hagiographic fawning on her subject–an embarrassment for someone purporting to be a journalist. But Strassel is hardly the only one at the Journal who has tossed aside real reporting in favor of propaganda, which is why it’s the Der Stürmer of American newspapers.

For a good part of 2016, the Wall Street Journal reflected Rupert Murdoch’s discomfort with Trump’s candidacy. His election took them by surprise, as it did with Democrats. Evidently, a memo drifted down from Murdoch HQ after the election: change course. It’s amusing, now, to see writers like Strassel contorting themselves to make nice to the new POTUS.  A deal of some kind has gone down: Trump, notably, hasn’t included the Wall Street Journal in his scathing criticism of other newspapers, like the New York Times and the Washington Post. He doesn’t have to: they’re doing his dirty work for him.

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