Most inept editorial ever: In late April, Andrew Rosenthal will step down as head of the New York Times editorial page.
Rosenthal seems to be going out in style. Today's featured editorial, about Wednesday's report by the Flint task force, is one of the most inept ever.
How clueless is today's editorial? Total confusion is achieved by just its fourth paragraph! At that point, the editorial seems to describes an heroic act on the part of the task force:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL (3/25/16): Mr. Snyder, a Republican, and many Republicans in Congress have tried to deflect and minimize the state’s responsibility for the Flint crisis. Mr. Snyder has said the crisis represented a collective failure of local, state and federal governments. And congressional Republicans like Jason Chaffetz of Utah have sought to pin virtually all of the blame on the Environmental Protection Agency, which many of them oppose for ideological reasons.The casual reader will likely think that the task force performed a heroic act. The task force "cut through to the truth," the editorial admiringly states, when it "said the agency most at fault was the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality."
The task force cut through to the truth and said the agency most at fault was the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, which reports to Mr. Snyder. The agency failed to instruct officials in Flint, which was under state control at the time, to treat its water with chemicals that would have prevented lead from leaching from pipes and plumbing fixtures into the drinking water. The agency continuously belittled the concerns of local residents and independent experts, and lied to the E.P.A., telling it that Flint was properly treating the water.
In fact, very few people have failed to say that the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) was the agency most at fault in this matter. Consider what happened at last Thursday's congressional hearing, the third in a series of hearings on Flint.
What happened at that hearing? In one major way, Michigan's Governor Snyder and the EPA's Gina McCarthy took an identical tack. Each testified, apparently correctly, that they were repeatedly misinformed by the MDEQ during the length of this mess.
Snyder explained his failure to act in a timely way on the basis of misinformation from the MDEQ. McCarthy explained the EPA's failure to act in the exact same way.
Because we live in a polarized world, the Times editorial states that the MDEQ "lied" to the EPA. It fails to note that Governor Snyder was apparently misinformed by the MDEQ in the exact same ways.
Governor Snyder has endlessly blamed the MDEQ for the mess in Flint! To the very limited extent that she was willing to accept any blame for her agency, so did the unrepentant McCarthy last week, sitting right next to Snyder.
As for other major players, let's revisit what Professor Marc Edwards said at the first congressional hearing about Flint.
Edwards savaged the EPA at the committee's first and second hearings, accusing the agency of gross misconduct in Flint and in similar incidents around the nation. That said, this was his account of what happened in Flint, as delivered to Rep. Gerry Connolly:
CONNOLLY (2/3/16): Mr. Edwards, is the primary responsibility here EPA's or MDEQ's? How does it work?Late in the hearing, Rep. Cummings asked Edwards why he's so tough on the EPA. Once again, Edwards said that the MDEQ bore primary responsibility for what happened in Flint.
EDWARDS: Without question, the primary responsibility is those paid to protect Michigan's citizens from lead in water. That's their job. And that lies exclusively with the MDEQ.
CONNOLLY: And Professor Edwards, just so, for the record, because we're seeing, we're hearing a little mushiness about that, "Let's blame the EPA." And EPA has some culpability here, no question. But in terms of water quality, isn't that how it works? The EPA relies on state DEQs, certainly in our state, Virginia, to carry out the responsibility of oversight of water quality primarily. Is that not the case?
EDWARDS: That's correct.
"I have said repeatedly that the primary blame for this rests with a few people at the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality without question," Edwards said. Moments later, Edwards said this: "One hundred percent of the responsibility lies with these employees at MDEQ, there's no question."
Edwards went on to make savage claims about what the EPA did in Flint. But he too said the problem began with the MDEQ. As far as we know, no one has ever said it began with the EPA.
By now, everyone and his crazy uncle have said that the MDEQ bears the primary responsibility. Indeed, this has been Snyder's principle claim ever since he first acknowledged that a very large mess had occurred.
Snyder's claim has always been that he was repeatedly misinformed by career officials within the MDEQ. The task force appointed by Snyder didn't "cut to the chase" when they stated that finding. Rosenthal's cluelessness to the side, they were actually repeating the claim Snyder has made all along!
What explains the cluelessness of today's editorial? To understand that, you have to peruse its fiery headline and its first two paragraphs.
In an almost comical manner, Andrew Rosenthal dropped a bomb in today's editorial. As we've told you again and again, this is virtually the only way our team knows how to play.
The bomb he dropped was our treasured R-bomb. Hard-copy headline included:
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORIAL: The Racism at the Heart of Flint's CrisisPlease note the reasoning there:
An important new report makes clear the principal cause of the water crisis in Flint, Mich.: the state government’s blatant disregard for the lives and health of poor and black residents of a distressed city.
The report released Wednesday by a task force appointed last year by Gov. Rick Snyder to study how Flint’s drinking water became poisoned by lead makes for chilling reading. While it avoids using the word “racism,” it clearly identifies the central role that race and poverty play in this story. “Flint residents, who are majority black or African-American and among the most impoverished of any metropolitan area in the United States, did not enjoy the same degree of protection from environmental and health hazards as that provided to other communities,” the report said.
In 116 pages, the task force never used the term "racism." But there it is, the first word in the headline of an editorial which praises the task force for its insight!
Did race and poverty play a central role in this story? We're not entirely sure how to answer that question.
That said, note again the tribalized way the editorial applies this theory. It says "the state government" showed a "blatant disregard for the lives and health of poor and black residents" of Flint. Presumably, that's where the racism came into play.
Did the EPA do the same thing? In its delays and its failures to act, did the EPA show a "blatant disregard for the lives and health of poor and black residents" of Flint?
On that question, the Times didn't speak, and it never will.
We love to throw our R-bombs around in service to our narratives! Over Here in our addled tribe, this practice represents a virtual intellectual sickness. As the Times makes clear again, it's our only play.
Many facts are still unclear about what actually happened in Flint. That said, you're never going to learn those facts, because major orgs like the New York Times just flat-out don't care.
Meanwhile, Professor Edwards has made savage claims about the work of the EPA in Flint and around the nation. How accurate are the claims he made?
You'll never see that examined either. The New York Times doesn't care about that. Also, on a tribal basis, it's on the EPA's side.
What about rates of lead exposure in other American cities? You aren't going to read about that. The New York Times doesn't care about that. The powdered poodles at orgs like the Times simply, completely don't care.
The Times enjoys its reindeer games, like the game it played today. An R-bomb was dropped in its editorial. It fell on the head of "the state government."
Who in that government did the Times mean? On his way to the Hamptons for a long weekend, a certain flyweight legacy hire completely forgot to tell!