The National Science Foundation (NSF) gave a contract to the Congressional Management Foundation (CMF) to do an analysis of Congressional websites; all 618 of them. Among the recipients of the Golden Mouse Award (warning: 115 page pdf) for excellence in public communication by a Congressional website, the highest available, the minority of the Senate Environmental & Public Works Committee. This is, to remind you, the site of Senator James Inhofe (R-Exxon) and his Global Warming denier / skeptic crowd who regularly peddle misleading and false material to the nation, using their taxpayer funded site. Yes, using this site to trap unwary visitors in a web of deception, deceit, and denial.
So, why did these people fighting hard to endanger America's future merit a "Golden Mouse"?
The Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works’ Minority Web site illustrates how committee sites can successfully provide timely and targeted information to its various audiences. The site is designed for ease of use. Press contact names, telephone numbers, and e-mail addresses included in each press release make information readily available to one of the site’s key audiences: the press.
Yes, they are quite successful at moving information. They know how to time things and know how to get out to the media, ASAP, and into a right-wing skeptic echo chamber quickly.
Its design and layout facilitate the delivery of thorough and targeted information to citizens. A “Fact of the Day” section and blog posts give them updated content and help ensure repeat visits to the site. The content is also fully integrated and cross-referenced throughout the site. For instance, the issues section contains a brief statement by the Ranking Member, related press releases and speeches, as well as related facts of the day and blog posts. Providing a variety of content in a number of different ways ensures that users will find the information that interests them, regardless of where they look for it. The site’s legislative content has information specific to the committee’s work and jurisdiction, including information about its rules, history, hearing schedules, and nominations.
"Fact of the day"? Does it matter whether what Inhofe and his staff support provide is true and truthful or is truthiness perfectly appropriate for a site given an award? The site's subtitle could appropriately be: "Facts aRen't US!".
In fact, truth, facts, quality of material have no relevance to CMF's efforts. This is totally an examination, it seems, of form over substance. Does the site provide material that provokes traffic? And, is the site's structure such that it provides stickiness (keeps people at the site) and repeat visitors? This, Inhofe certainly does success at: providing a rallying point for Global Warming deniers globally.
In Praise of High Class Climate Deception
Over at DeSmogBlog, Richard Littlemore has a great post on this.
In a celebration of fiction - a promotion of political spin - one of America's top sources for climate disinformation ... has recieved a top-of-class [award]
the site ... works constantly to confuse, distort and mislead the press and the public on global warming.
Note, of course, Inhofe's Truthiness Gift for Christmas speaking of a "report" of "400 prominent scientists" reportedly providing that Global Warming is a fiction as a recent, prominent example of the website's effectiveness at wide distribution of dishonest material. As Richard elegantly puts it,
The list was bogus, badly inflated with flakes, industry flaks and legitimate scientists who actually endorse the consensus, but Morano's press release still reverberated around the internet, even eliciting a comment from the New York Times suggesting that this dishonest manipulation was somehow part of the legitimate process of scientific debate.
Typical right-wing strategy: put out something loudly enough, seeking to have it picked up in reputable traditional media, so that they can say "even the librul NYTimes says ..."
It is chilling to think that our high regard for style and substance, for tactic and technique, now completely overwhelms our desire to hear the truth. It's an outrage that the National Science Foundation would be hiring a "non-partisan" group that is, itself, indifferent to science.
Should we be asking why the NSF funded what was, in essence, an examination of public relations effectiveness of sites with little regard to the factual basis for the imparted information?
But it sure makes it clear why confusion still reigns on the climate file. We just don't care about the truth; we just want to admire and reward the best storytellers, regardless of whether their stories will lead us further into the greatest environmental calamity in history.
Two sides to a coin?
Now, perhaps CMF is seeking to
foster the "there are two sides" (false) framing of Global Warming issues, another award recipient: The House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming. This is an exciting site, built on and disseminating facts. It is a valuable site, with meaningful information. Guess that its reliance on facts, rather than fantasy, might be the reason it merited only a Silver Mouse.
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