On Tuesday evening, the Washington Post announced that it has hired Mark Lasswell to be the paper’s associate op-ed editor. According to the post, Lasswell oversaw the Wall Street Journal’s opinion page from 2012 through 2016.
The Post’s hire continues the worrying trend of legitimate media bending over backwards to accommodate conservative opinions, like the NYT’s hiring of WSJ’s climate bullshitter Bret Stephens. Or Bari Weiss, who formerly worked with Lasswell at the WSJ and now writes for the NYT where she pens puff pieces for hate speech, misunderstands cultural appropriation, and criticizes the #MeToo movement.
We don’t know for sure what Lasswell will bring to the Washington Post, and we don’t know how much his former employer’s questionable ownership influenced his editorial decisions. Given the drama around Lasswell’s ousting--word is that he pushed to run op-eds criticizing Trump’s business, against his bosses’ wishes--we have faint hope that he may want to abandon all the terrible racist content the Journal’s opinion page has featured during his tenure. But we know exactly what the WSJ opinion page’s climate content looked like under his watch, and it’s not good.
By our count (just ask if you’d like to see the list) from 2012 to 2016, the WSJ’s opinion page published at least 303 op-eds, columns and editorials relevant to climate change. Of those 303 pieces, three are scientifically accurate on climate, but by way of supporting natural gas. One piece is supportive of climate action by way of being pro nuclear. One column reeks of denial, but nevertheless acknowledges that a carbon tax would be a good solution. Three are special debates that feature a decent argument for climate action, and eight are actually quite honest pieces that are climate-friendly and without any big problems.
The remaining 287 pieces are full of misleading and debunked denial talking points, conspiracy theories, and political attacks. Per our back-of-the-napkin math, this means roughly 95 percent of the climate-related opinion content published under Lasswell’s watch disagrees with the roughly 97 percent consensus among climate scientists that warming is a problem caused by burning fossil fuels.
Is five percent accuracy what the Washington Post is aspiring to? Do they need more conservative thought on the opinion page when they already have three columnists who have in the past provided a lobbyist-driven, factually wrong but politically correct right-wing perspective on climate change? (To be fair, it would still take quite a bit to stoop as low as the Journal: the Post also has the conservative-but-not-in-denial Jennifer Rubin, plenty of other climate-honest columnists, and of course cartoonist Tom Toles, who co-authored a book on climate with Dr. Mann.)
We don’t know if Lasswell will write columns too, but we are wondering if the Post’s op-eds and editorials will start to reflect the Wall Street Journal’s consistent, decades-long anti-science opposition to environmental protections of all types?
Let’s hope not. Let’s hope the Post lets readers know when a writer has a conflict of interest, and commits to fact checking its opinion page as rigorously as it does regular reporting. Because where there’s good fact checking, there’s no denial.