You see a scandal on the front page of the New York Times and you assume that steps will be taken. Wrongs will be righted. Villains will be brought to justice. You can scratch it off your mental checklist: Done.
But time and time and time again that turns out not to be the case.
Take Wednesday’s revelations about how Philip Cooney, an oil-industry lobbyist-turned-White House official, did extensive re-write work on gov’t reports to make it sound as if global warming weren’t really that big a problem -- indeed, that it might not be a problem at all. I guess Michael Crichton was too busy -- or too pricey.
Haven’t we seen this story before? On the front page of the New York Times? It was June 2003, when the paper of record reported on how the White House had made so many changes to a section of an EPA report on climate change that Christie Todd Whitman finally threw up her hands and pulled the section on global warming altogether.
It was outrageous... and soon forgotten. Another front-page casualty.
And it’s not like we’re talking about some minor behind-the-scenes scandal, either. This is a story with potentially cataclysmic consequences. I mean, I can understand people suffering scandal-fatigue over yet another revelation of yet another congressman’s golf trip being paid for by yet another sleazy lobbyist. But we’re talking about politicians routinely ignoring scientific evidence, acting like a PR arm of ExxonMobil... and playing fast and loose with grim realities getting grimmer. Seems like a story worth pursuing, doesn’t it?
But then, so was the story of how Kenny Boy Lay and his Enron gang played such a big part in Dick Cheney’s secret Energy Task Force. And so was the revelation that large chunks of the Bush administration’s new rules on mercury emissions had been taken -- word for word -- from memos prepared by power and energy company lobbyists. And so was Wednesday’s other scandalous disclosure, that ExxonMobil had played a big role in bringing about the White House’s cavalier kiss off of the Kyoto treaty.
But despite all the front-page ink, the Bush administration oiligarchs are repeatedly allowed to skate on their criminal treatment of the environment.
We can’t let that happen this time... which is why this is a perfect story for the blogosphere. If the mainstream media move on, let bloggers keep pounding away until we finally break through the din and people get mad enough, and scared enough -- and sweaty enough -- to demand that the Bushies be called on the carpet for doctoring science and continuing to pretend that the jury is still out on global warming.
We need to blog as if our lives depend on it... because they very well may.