Arizona Eagletarian

Arizona Eagletarian

Thursday, March 12, 2015

The Arizona Republic's brazen betrayal of its fundamental mission undermines open government

The Arizona Republic's editorial board let fly with fierce rebuke of Democratic Congressman Raul Grijalva (Arizona's 3rd District) this morning, headlined "Drop the climate-change witch hunt."
The fervent wish of virtually all scientific researchers is that their work should do their talking for them.
Unfortunately, Arizona Democratic Rep. Raul Grijalva won't let that happen.
The ranking Democrat on the House Natural Resources Committee, Grijalva has demanded information from seven universities about the funding of climate scientists who testified to Congress.
As The Republic's Anne Ryman details, the scientists testified or wrote about climate change in ways that displeased environmental advocacy groups. Among them is Robert Balling, a professor at Arizona State University.
Grijalva sent a letter on Feb. 24 to ASU President Michael Crow seeking information on any external funding sources that underwrote Balling's work, as well as drafts of his testimony before government bodies and any correspondence about that testimony. Grijalva seeks records going back at least eight years.
Balling says he has complied fully with all disclosure requirements. He is hiding nothing. Grijalva's letter, which cites a 2012 news story that indicates he receives a $1,000 monthly honorarium from a group critical of widely accepted conclusions about climate change, is false, Balling said. 
Based on this build up, the Republic says Grijalva's on a "classic witch hunt."

Except that a $12,000/year tip jar seems to me that it would be enough grease to keep the wheel from squeaking.
Grijalva's pursuit of the seven scientists fits the classic definition of a witch hunt. He has no real information that suggests Balling or the others have hidden their funding sources. And he knows — or should know — that even a scurrilous allegation of being funded by energy industry sources can tarnish the most reputable researcher's reputation.
An interesting way to frame its conclusion, given that the editorial writer takes a verbal baseball bat to Grijalva based SOLELY on Balling's (unverified, unaudited, I'll take your word for it because it's convenient to my purpose) verbal denial. This ONLY for Grijalva's crime of having ASKED QUESTIONS. Questions that, for the ranking member of the Natural Resources committee seem entirely reasonable. Don't we expect our Congressional representatives to exercise genuine oversight on the issues within their purview?

Wikipedia says that Robert Balling "is known for" climate change skepticism. The 2012 news story was in Arizona State University's student run State Press. That story is notable for not conforming to corporate media efforts to suppress the truth. Ooops, I meant the Arizona Republic's brazenly sinister rhetoric designed to suppress the truth. The State Press story says, in part,
Environmental groups accused an ASU professor of having a conflict of interest that tainted his research and teaching after leaked documents in February revealed the professor’s connection to the spread of information questioning the use of fossil fuels as a cause of climate change.
Documents from the Heartland Institute named Robert Balling as a tentative author of “Climate Change Reconsidered” in its 2012 budget plan. Balling is a professor in the School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning whose research deals with climatology and global climate change. [...]
According to the Heartland Institute’s 2012 budget and fundraising strategy, Balling receives $1,000 per month from the organization.
Michelle Peirano, author of the State Press investigation, should be commended.

The Republic editorial concludes with this Fox News-style dagger,
[ASU President Michael] Crow also objected to Grijalva's pursuit of Balling, but indicated he planned to comply with the lawmaker's public-records request.
Frankly, we wish he would have been a little more forceful about it. Grijalva is doing no justice to the pursuit of truth by this fact-free endeavor. It needs to end.
To which I would say to Doug MacEachern and the Arizona Republic's publisher John Zidich, "HORSESHIT."

The State Press and Ms. Peirano did the kind of job the Arizona Republic SHOULD be doing. That Congressman Grijalva finally started following up on the information represents a too long delayed effort to spray some disinfectant (sunshine being the best disinfectant... according to former Supreme Court Justice Lewis Brandeis) on a putrid situation. Not to put too fine a point on it (because I did link to the 2014 blog post with Morgan Loew's investigation into lobbyist gifts to AZ lawmakers, aka legal corruption), but another ASU professor (emeritus), Robert Cialdini's social psychology research demonstrates with abundant clarity that Ballman's $12k/year tip jar receipts from the Heartland Institute constitutes a tangible conflict of interest. Whether Ballman disclosed it or not.

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To put the Republic's brazenly partisan attack on Grijalva in perspective, compare the softness of the news enterprise's rebuke of Scrooge McDucey today. Headline, "Come on governor, play it straight."
Subhead, "Our View: Doug Ducey has the potential to be a good leader, if he'd just stop spinning everything."
Education is important. So is thinking about it in fresh ways. A balanced budget is important. So is building the economy and recruiting new business to Arizona. Taken on the whole, Ducey was the better choice in November. He's still the better choice in March.
That doesn't mean he's been perfect. The disciplined messaging that served candidate Ducey so well does not translate well for Gov. Ducey. There's far too much spinning and clever wordplay, and not enough playing it straight. That will catch up to the governor, reducing his effectiveness when Arizonans constantly find themselves wondering what he's leaving unsaid.
More disingenuous bullshit. First, "disciplined messaging" is code for "we knew he was not telling the truth and we also knew he intended to decimate Arizona's public education system." However, because the Republic owns the results of the governor's race, they are downplaying the drastic hit the Arizona economy must brace itself to face.

The bottom line is that the Arizona Republic has betrayed the trust the public has every right to expect. In so doing, the corporate news organ which claims to be Arizona's "newspaper of record" has become nothing more than a propaganda tool.

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As an aside, McDucey's defunding of state universities (state Rep. Noel Campbell claims it's because the universities can find funding elsewhere) leaves Arizona's research schools open to capture by right wing funding from organizations like Koch Enterprises. This has largely already been accomplished. Last fall, when the LD26 legislative debate sponsored by the Citizens' Clean Elections Commission was held at the Tempe campus of ASU, I snapped a pic of a plaque in front of the W.P. Carey School of Business.

The text reads:
SPIRIT symbolizes the power of freedom in America. It is the combination of political and economic freedom that creates democratic capitalism which makes up the economic and cultural environment of America. This system combines an incentive-driven market economy, a strong legal framework that values individual property rights, a representative government that respects the rights of individuals to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness and a system of cultural institutions moved by the principles of liberty and justice for all. These converging ideas provide Americans with unlimited possibilities for economic success and the freedom to voluntarily contribute to our society, thus creating more opportunities for succeeding generations.
The fact is that there is no such thing as "democratic capitalism." In fact, the two words are nearly antithetical. NOWHERE in the Constitution of the United States is the country defined as capitalist. Our ECONOMY is largely capitalist. Our political system is supposed to be a democratic republic. It is neither, at this point. America is, functionally, a plutocracy. The Arizona Republic threw a tantrum because Raul Grijalva is trying to fight for a democratic republic.

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The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don't have any. - Alice Walker
— Revolutionary Quotes (@QuoteRevolution) March 7, 2015

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Today it is a case of the grasshopper pitted against the elephant. But tomorrow the elephant will have its guts ripped outLe Loi, Vietnamese emperor, 15th Century

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