Washington Post Gets Burned for Publishing Palin's Op-Ed

Bloggers are outraged she was granted space for an anti-Copenhagen column

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Sarah Palin's foes may have enjoyed the celebrity-style hubbub about her memoir, Going Rogue, but they're much less pleased to see her holding forth as a pundit. On Wednesday, Palin wades into the fray in an op-ed for the Washington Post. She attacks climate change science and urges President Obama to boycott the Copenhagen climate talks:

Whatever deal he gets, it will be no deal for the American people. What Obama really hopes to bring home from Copenhagen is more pressure to pass the Democrats' cap-and-tax proposal. This is a political move. The last thing America needs is misguided legislation that will raise taxes and cost jobs--particularly when the push for such legislation rests on agenda-driven science.

Blowback at the column targeted not only Palin, but the Washington Post.  Howard Kurtz, the newspaper's media critic, defended the Post with a rhetorical question: "She was [a vice presidential] candidate. Is she the first pol to submit a ghostwritten piece?" Of course, Palin is neither the first politician to submit a ghostwritten op-ed nor is she the first controversial figure to be granted space in a major newspaper. (See: John Yoo) So why are bloggers so mad? Are Palin's claims so groundless, and their potential damage so great, that the Post shouldn't have published them?

  • Absurd Gawker's Ravi Somaiya rejects Palin's assertion that the so-called "Climategate" e-mails reveal scientists "deliberately destroyed records, manipulated date to 'hide the decline' in global temperatures, and tried to silence their critics": the e-mails "don't reveal anything of the sort," writes Somaiya. "And, Somaiya continues, "that the Washington Post would allow such shabbiness as the premise for an op-ed is a matter for genuine shame." Palin, on the other hand, "is doing here what she does best--she's taking lies and, by blithely presuming they're facts, lending them credence." Thus:
The president should not boycott Copenhagen. Marcus Brauchli, executive editor of the Washington Post should, however, hang his head for allowing another dreadful celebrity op-ed like this into his newspaper.
  • Does the Post Fact-Check This Stuff? Discover magazine's Carl Zimmer points to The Washington Post's declaration of rigorous fact-checking when it came to George Will's global warming skepticism in op-eds, and wonders whether Sarah Palin got the same "treatment."
  • Probably Not, So I'll Do It for Them The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder releases an "annotated" version of Palin's column. "Once again," he writes, the Washington Post has given Sarah Palin the chance to harness herself to the political story of the hour."
  • Does the Post Have a Purpose? In the strongest condemnation of the moment, Tim Lambert at science blog Deltoid concludesa that "The wWashington Post simply does not care about the accuracy of the columns it publishes." He points to The Washington Post's "own report" on global warming, which contradicts Palin's claims. "What use is the Washington Post?" asks Lambert. "If they are not going to do even the most perfunctory fact checking on the stuff they publish, what value do they add?"
  • Actually, This is Helpful David Corn at Mother Jones is one of the few to omit a dig at The Washington Post. Coincidentally or not, he is also one of the few to suggest that Palin's op-ed might actually help the cause of the climate change activists:
Given that Palin's standing in various polls is low, environmentalists may want to encourage her to Twitter even more and be seen as the leader of the assault on Copenhagen. If Palin truly becomes the public face of the opposition, that is not likely to boost the credibility or prospects of the do-nothing crowd.
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