This is an archive of the old Stones Cry Out site. For the current site, click here.

« If You Can’t Beat ‘Em, Regulate ‘Em, Part Deux | Main | FISA Agrees to Bush Admin Reforms »

January 17, 2007

Misrepresenting Climate Policy, the Associated Press Way

Yeah, this is a hat tip to a 2-day-old Instapundit post, which is eons in blog time, but I thought it worth highlighting. In this story about how the tiny country of the United Arab Emirates beats the United States per capita in putting "demand on the global ecosystem", this line is mentioned about the second place US.

The United States is no longer bound by Kyoto, which the Bush administration rejected after taking office in 2001.

But as Glenn notes, based on a passage from what he calls "the not especially Bush-friendly Wikipedia", that is simply not true. You can chalk it up to "mere" incompetence or "simple" laziness, but it seems that almost always when the mainstream media get incompetent or lazy, conservatives and/or Republicans suffer (and liberals and/or Democrats look better). Honestly, when's the last time any news source (or your friendly, neighborhood liberal buddy) correctly noted that Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for ratification? If your going to insist that Bush"rejected" it, you must say the same thing about Clinton & Gore (notwithstanding Gore's "symbolic" signing of it; liberal good intentions don't count if they don't produce results).

Somehow, the fact that 80-90% of journalists vote Democrat just doesn't seem to register with folks like Eric Alterman who insist that the media lean conservative. That Bush "rejected" Kyoto is such a Known Fact(tm) in those circles does make its way into reporting, and it ain't the only thing that does.

Posted by Doug at January 17, 2007 10:01 PM

Trackback Pings


Perhaps not factual, but extraordinarily "truthy."

Posted by: Mike at January 17, 2007 11:01 PM

Heh, you got that right.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 17, 2007 11:31 PM

Mike, I really wish that people would not leave remarks like yours. At least have the cachongas to state what is not "factual" in your opinion. And what, exactly, is the difference between "factual" and "truthy"?

Posted by: John Lange at January 18, 2007 04:48 AM

John, I believe I covered what parts were not factual in the original post.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 18, 2007 08:32 AM

"Honestly, when's the last time any news source (or your friendly, neighborhood liberal buddy) correctly noted that Clinton never submitted it to the Senate for ratification?"

Actually, I've never seen it represented that way. I'm well aware of Clinton's cowardly failure to push the Kyoto or other responsible environmental behavior.

What DID happen (and what CNN says at the first google response to "clinton kyoto") is that "The Kyoto agreement was signed by former U.S. President Bill Clinton but never introduced to the Senate for ratification." As well as "Dismay is being expressed across the world at the decision by U.S. President George W. Bush to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Treaty" - both factual statements.

I've never seen anything else by the MSM - with this article you're citing being the first to write such an incorrect statement. We were NEVER bound to Kyoto. Much to our shame.

It remains correct and factual that Bush rejected Kyoto. Clinton signed but didn't push Kyoto on to Congress. Bush refused to follow up on a treaty with which a former president had at least signed a preliminary agreement.

Having said that, I will point out that Kyoto was/is not a cure-all. But it is a step in acknowledging we have an addiction problem, and recognizing the problem is the first step.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 18, 2007 09:53 AM

Would appreciate the link, as my searching for those terms in Google didn't show a CNN link in the first 3 pages. The first thing I did find was this USA Today article about former Clinton aides backpedaling from Kyoto now that they weren't in charge.

Economists from the Clinton White House now concede that complying with Kyoto's mandatory reductions in greenhouse gases would be difficult — and more expensive to American consumers than they thought when they were in charge.

Convenient. The thing with this article is that it's from 2001, and that's why I'd like the link to the article you mention. Spouting Known Facts(tm) assumes (hopes) that folks don't remember what happened 6+ years ago.

Oh, and according to those former Clinton advisers, Kyoto was worse than simply "not a cure-all". It would be an economic nightmare that would make little long term difference because many of the other biggest polluters wouldn't participate. A bipartisan group in the Senate knew this as well. Recognizing the problem is one thing, and the article notes that this administration knows it. Throwing billions at a useless treaty that raises fuel prices 53% by some estimates isn't my idea a a first step.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 18, 2007 11:49 AM

Sorry, I actually googled "clinton kyoto treaty" and got this link first.

As to Kyoto being an "economic nightmare," two things:

1. The thing about capitalism is that there is always a way to make money. Oil going away and losing that money-making angle? Invest in the replacement technology and resources. I don't put too much stock in these worries about economic disaster from Kyoto.
2. I DO put a great deal of stock in worries about fossil fuel dependence causing ecologic and economic disasters. We currently are able to feed the 6+ billion people in the world because and only because of petroleum. Double or quadruple its price (and it is coming - limited resources/increasing demand, you know?) and we have serious problems the world around.

Climate change is the least of the reasons for changing the way we depend upon fossil fuels, but it's a legitimate concern, as you well note.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 18, 2007 02:50 PM

Yeah, it's another 2001 story. It's just that the narrative has changed over time, to the point where the AP editors let the new "truth" just slide on by.

And note the wording even then in the first few paragraphs. Headline, "Dismay as U.S. drops climate pact". You can't drop something you never officially picked up. "Dismay is being expressed across the world at the decision by U.S. President George W. Bush to abandon the 1997 Kyoto Treaty aimed at staving off global warming." You can't "abandon" something you never officially accepted, so they start you off by insinuating that Bush changed something when he didn't. Not until paragraph 20, when all the criticism has been reported, do they mention that Clinton never sent it to the Senate. Later on, they say that the Clinton administration considered Kyoto "essential to dealing with the risks of climate change", but not essential enough, apparently, to do anything to get it ratified. CNN uncritically reports these things, not noting the disconnect in words and deeds.

So the "Bush abandoned Kyoto" meme has a long history in the media.

Indeed capitalism adapts to changes over time. The problem is when artificial changes are forced. During the sped-up transition, the transitional issues that would have come up and dealt with little by little over time suddenly have to have major band-aids applied pronto. And the solutions are often far worse that the over-time ones. (E.g. how will the poor pay for heating oil if the prices jump artificially fast? Typical answer is an immediate new tax to subsidize it, meaning that an economy that is already taking a hard hit over inflated prices is getting nailed a second time via taxes.)

Indeed you point out a good issue with regards to the world's logistic capabilities and its dependence on oil. That's why I view Bush's emphasis on technological incentives--coming up with alternative power sources--better than a lot of the proposed punishments for non-compliance. And especially when countries like China haven't also bought into it. Yes, we should be leading the way, but I think with more carrots and fewer sticks. Heck, that's one of the reasons I liked the (mostly market driven) high oil prices. Suddenly research into alternative fuels makes economic sense, and indeed the venture capital available in this area jumped by something like 5 or 6 times.

(Obligatory snark: And all that was happening while Democrats piled on Bush for high gas prices. Those prices were actually aiding their supposed concerns about the environment. Politics trumped it, I guess.)

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 18, 2007 04:47 PM

Some of the dems in office may have piled on Bush about high gas, but I don't know of any environmentalists who did. We NEED higher gas prices. It's artificially low which is contributing to the problem.

"Indeed capitalism adapts to changes over time. The problem is when artificial changes are forced."

The problem is that gas prices have been forced lower than they actually cost, that is, gas prices do not reflect gas costs. IF they did, then it would be much less necessary to talk about punishments instead of incentives. Capitalism adapts to changes over time IF actual costs are reflected in prices.

Posted by: Dan Trabue at January 18, 2007 09:55 PM

That I will certainly agree with, that artificially high or low prices will not have the desired effect.

Posted by: Doug Payton at January 19, 2007 09:01 AM