Yesterday, legacy media institution Newsweek apparently made a bid to travel back in time, to when it was still relevant and climate change was still a matter of debate, with a pair of op-eds. One is based in reality, in which Woodwell Climate Research Center’s communications officer Heather Goldstone describes the threat posed by climate change.
The other is rife with errors, out of date and misleading citations, and is from Heartland’s James Taylor. No, not the singer-songwriter, but instead a man who has, for years, been exposed as fossil fuel shill paid by the industry to spread disinformation on climate change.
Why would Newsweek publish obvious disinformation from a career liar? First, because Newsweek now is not the Newsweek you likely remember. They were bought by a shady cult a few years ago and have since started turning more fully to rightwing conspiracy mongering. Their latest effort appears to be a new podcast, from which Goldstone and Taylor’s pieces were excerpted.
It's called "The Debate" and they're very obviously just doing outrage-bait to generate controversy with topics on guns, voting rights, cancel culture, pot, #MeToo, and our favorite, whether "the ruling class" has "sold America out." That one features a guest who's former CIA and another from the Koch-funded AEI. Somehow, they both "agree violently" that "people are losing faith in the American elite and the institutions that harbor them." (We guess if anyone knows about the elite ruling class selling out America, it's the people who sold themselves out to the elite!)
And that was our assessment before finding a Heritage foundation podcast with Newsweek’s opinion editor and The Debate producer, Josh Hammer, recorded at the conservative-troll-farm Turning Point USA’s in-person summer summit in Tampa.
It turns out that in addition to being an editor at Newsweek, Hammer is a lawyer for the “Internet Accountability Project” (dedicated to pushing the lie that social media is too mean to conservatives) and a fellow at the far-right Edmund Burke Foundation, which is basically the Dutch version of Heritage or Heartland.
Feel free to listen to the podcast or read the transcript for the details, but the short version is: Hammer is a die-hard professional conservative, and his co-host on the left is Batya Ungar-Sargon, who Hammer describes as “an anti-woke liberal.” So, The Debate appears set up to have conservatives who hate liberals on one hand, and liberals who hate liberals on the other. Wow!
Unfortunately, this isn’t even the newest attempt by the right to pass itself off as mainstream and find ways to bypass the fact-checking in mainstream media.
According to a story at The Washington Times yesterday, a columnist for the Washington Times is starting a news aggregator website to rival Drudge. The columnist, Joseph Curl, told his (still) employer of his new venture, “the internet needs an editor to cull the very best stories and present them on a single site. That will be the sole mission of Off the Press.”
Curl wants to create something “consumers can trust”, and said that “its perspective will be mainly conservative” but still, “will include coverage from all political angles.”
Oh really? The best stories, from all political angles? Well let’s just pop over to Off The Press and see what we have.
Ah, well in the top-left column is an “IRONY ALERT” that refers to Reuters and the Associated Press (which is so mainstream their style guide is basically the entire industry’s standard) as “liberal news outlets” in a link to TownHall. A few links later, it linked to an AP story (syndicated to Yahoo) about climate and clean energy not being in the bipartisan/Exxon’s infrastructure bill, under a “unfilled promises” section. So like Koch/Newsweek’s The Debate podcast, Off The Press seems intent to present both sides of the political spectrum, so long as they’re both criticizing liberals.
Most egregiously, and perhaps most indicative of the editorial standards (or lack thereof) required for aspiring conservative media outlets, is a link out to tweets by Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene. Accompanied by a tightly cropped picture of some snacks, the headline from Off the Press reads “MTG Hits AOC Over Piles of Garbage Left After Capitol Protest.”
But AOC didn’t leave piles of neatly stacked pizza box “garbage” on the Capitol steps. Greene had just taken screenshots of pictures of Rep. Cori Bush’s overnight protest, cropped out the Rep. sitting right next to said trash supposedly “left after” the protest.
That said, Greene is right that all too often there is garbage on the Capitol steps.
It’s just a shame people keep electing them.