Last week, documents FOIA’d by the Environmental Defense Fund and the Southern Environmental Law Center revealed how the EPA is working hand in hand with fossil fueled climate denial groups like Heartland. The news wasn’t exactly unexpected. Documents the Project on Government Oversight FOIA’d provided more information on the story Mother Jones broke last year on Pruitt’s desire for a “campaign-style” media monitoring effort. That no-bid contract went to the GOP-aligned Definers Public Affairs. One of the outlets on the list for Definers to monitor was the Daily Caller, though unlike real media, that was likely to provide Pruitt with the praise he needed to defend himself to Trump against calls for his ouster.
In case you need a reminder of the Daily Caller’s pedigree, it was set up by Fox’s Tucker Carlson and funded at least in part by the Kochs and other billionaires. That anyone considers it news and not purely opinion (or just propaganda) is a shame. We’ve covered the Caller’s Michael Bastasch plenty. Recently, we’ve seen a new byline on some staunchly pro-Pruitt pieces: Jason Hopkins.
Is Hopkins more of an actual reporter than Bastasch? Sort of. Unlike Bastasch, Hopkins’s resume appears to be more than just a string of positions at Koch-backed organizations. But like Mike, he has gone from one overtly biased conservative gig to another. Before working for the Caller, Hopkins wrote for the racist, GOP-operative-run fake news operation Western Journal, scribbling boilerplate conservative political attacks. Before that, he was at The Resurgent, the blog of conservative radio star Erik Erikson. Prior to that, he wrote for at TownHall (originally a Heritage Foundation operation before being bought by pro-Trump Salem) churning out more of the same sort of Fox-News-on-steroids political opinion masquerading as reporting.
Apparently, when Hopkins went to Daily Caller he stopped being a general political hack and became an “Energy Investigator.” Hopkins has written a lot in the almost two months since starting at the Daily Caller, like an attack on electric vehicles based on a fossil fuel-funded group’s research, which we covered. (Apparently, he didn’t approve of how we pointed out the corrupt nature of the report, and somehow failed to see the half-dozen or so contradicting links we provided to address the report’s content.)
It doesn’t take long to see a theme to his work. Hopkins’s first story, from early April, is a hit piece on Paul Ryan’s Democratic challenger, dragging him for his support of renewables--based, of course, on Republican’s unofficial opposition research group, America Rising. Ten days later, Hopkins wrote another renewables attack, also based on a report from that same group, which just so happens to share staff and office space with Pruitt’s no-bid media work contract winner, Definers Public Affairs. And one of his most recent pieces is--you guessed it--another attack on renewables. The source for his claims? That’s right: research from America Rising.
He’s also started branching out to defending Scott Pruitt from other outlet’s real reporting, as though he’s some sort of definer of Pruitt’s public affairs. Hopkins jumped to Pruitt’s defense regarding the story of how an AP reporter tried to attend a meeting but EPA security “shoved her forcibly out of the EPA building.” According to the Daily Caller, that didn’t happen and that per Hopkins eyewitness account, the woman was overreacting.
Similarly, Hopkins took issue with a supposedly “misleading” AP story about Pruitt’s travel, pushed back on the stories about Pruitt’s pending firing, and defended Pruitt on the security issue.
Now, as a recent Media Matters post shows, Michael Bastasch is still the reigning champion of pro-Pruitt propaganda. But when Bastasch is busy and the Daily Caller needs to attack clean energy or defend dirty politicians like Pruitt, Jason Hopkins to it.
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