Pleasing the Greens: WashPost Profiles Sen. Inhofe, Prominent 'Climate-Change Denier'

January 9th, 2015 2:30 PM

About a month ago, The Washington Post reported that kiddie-TV host Bill Nye “the Science Guy” and other leftists put out an open letter demanding the media use the word “climate denier” instead of “climate skeptic” to describe Sen. Jim Inhofe and the conservative side of the global-warming debate. Apparently, the letter worked.

Friday’s Post carried a very biased article by Ben Terris on the front page of the Style section on Sen. Jim Inhofe, “the country’s most prominent climate-change denier.” The Post even used the “denier” phrase in its local radio ads, passing along the shock that a “denier” is chairing an environmental committee.

The headline on the front page of the Style section was “A climate skeptic takes the reins: Sen. James Inhofe believes man-made global warming is a hoax. Now he has a chairman’s gavel.” On page C-5, the headline was “Senate’s top climate-change denier is flying high.”

Above that in italics was this Inhofe quote: “When you do things that people won’t do because it’s politically stupid, it’s good to have peace with it.”

The secular Post insisted Inhofe’s religious faith was part of his political stupidity. Their picture of Inhofe in his office showed his crucifix (although he’s Presbyterian) and what looks like the Ten Commandments on tablets. It also carried a picture of him on horseback in Tulsa’s Christmas parade. (Inhofe pulled out of the parade when they decided to call it the "Parade of Lights," taking out the C-word, but this year, they went back to tradition.)

Apparently, the horse got out of control, and “horse smashed into the side of a parked minivan with the words ‘Merry Christmas’ painted on its back window,” denting the new automobile. This, to Terris and the Posties, was a perfect opportunity to lay out the liberal line:

This is how Democratic activists like to think of Inhofe: as a doddering caricature of conservative values who, given a platform such as the chairmanship of the Environment and Public Works Committee, will regularly supply punch lines to the opposition. They see him as an untethered radical off in a world apart even from his conservative colleagues; a Don Quixote with Jesus as Sancho Panza, on a quest to rein in overzealous lefties. Their hope is to use him as a foil. Their worry is that his maneuvering could cause a lot more damage when he is wielding a gavel than when riding a horse.

Climate change is certain to be a major issue for Congress in the next couple of years. Tom Steyer, the billionaire Democratic environmentalist, topped the list of campaign donors in the past election cycle; there’s still the Keystone XL pipeline to figure out; and a number of new rules from the Environmental Protection Agency are set to take effect this year. On all this, Inhofe aims to take center stage.

“Expect huge and enormous fireworks in the committee,” said Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.), the senior Democrat on the committee. “[Inhofe’s] going to go after everything, and I’m going to stop him dead on the floor of the Senate....The biggest denier of all is the chairman of the environment committee — that’s a cruel joke.”

There’s nothing wrong with the Post including Democratic criticism in an article on a Republican, except – they’re incapable of noting Steyer or Boxer are “liberal,” leaving that notion instead to Inhofe’s “radical” imagination.

And there's this: Let’s to back to another Terris profile of a prominent member of Congress, liberal Rep. Jared Polis. The headline on that May 28 profile was merely “His own shade of blue.” (Or online, "The evolution of Jared Polis.") There are no Republicans in that article, and no conservative policy experts or lobbyists to attack him. Tom Steyer surfaces in that article, too, but again, neither Polis nor Steyer is ever identified as a “liberal.”

Terris protested to me on Twitter that I needed to read the article – since after all that “cruel joke” invective, he admits “as easy as he is for opponents to mock, Inhofe is a much more complicated figure than he is portrayed as.” Inhofe can be civil to the other side, and so Senator Boxer says she likes him, but that “that doesn’t mean I don’t think his views are dangerous....I think he’s waaaay out of the mainstream, but we can still be friends.”

Later, Terris drops the D-word again, and adds another leftist expert to the attack:  

It’s an ambitious agenda, but it’s not just the goal of a lone crusading climate-change denier. What is really worrisome to environmentalists is that while Inhofe’s rhetoric may be more extreme than that of his Republican colleagues, their objectives appear to be the same.

David Goldston, director of government affairs for the Natural Resources Defense Council, said the focus on Inhofe is a red herring.

“In the end, I don’t see any difference between Senator Inhofe and Senator McConnell when it comes to these issues,” he said.

The Bill Nye letter noted that NPR’s Scott Horsley achieved proper usage by using “denier” on the air, but “skeptic” is a word that belongs to the scientists, not the “deniers.”

As scientific skeptics, we are well aware of political efforts to undermine climate science by those who deny reality but do not engage in scientific research or consider evidence that their deeply held opinions are wrong. The most appropriate word to describe the behavior of those individuals is “denial.” Not all individuals who call themselves climate change skeptics are deniers. But virtually all deniers have falsely branded themselves as skeptics. By perpetrating this misnomer, journalists have granted undeserved credibility to those who reject science and scientific inquiry.

In the Post story on the Nye letter, lexicographer Kory Stamper said “Its earliest uses were religious: deniers of the Gospel, deniers of Jesus Christ, and so on....Writers tend to use words that are more familiar to them, and ‘skeptic’ is much more common in modern English prose than ‘denier’ is. ‘Denier’ also has that extra whiff of dogmatic, insistent rejection of established fact that ‘skeptic’ doesn’t (due to its common appearance in ‘Holocaust denier’), so maybe uses of ‘climate-change skeptic’ are seen as less judgmental or biased as uses of ‘climate-change denier’ are.”

Try to find the Post using the word “denier” to apply to deniers of Jesus Christ or his Gospel. The Post can profile “abortion rights” activists without calling them “baby deniers,” and certainly they would never dream of calling a transgender woman a “penis denier.”

When the Left defies scientific reality for a political cause, political correctness reigns, and science takes the day off.