Flint watch: New York Times drops R-bomb near Flint!

FRIDAY, MARCH 25, 2016

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 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.
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."

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?

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.
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.

"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 Crisis

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.
Please note the reasoning there:

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!

10 comments:

  1. The Flint water crisis is a story of government failure, intransigence, unpreparedness, delay,
    inaction, and environmental injustice...Given the demographics of Flint, the implications for environmental injustice cannot be ignored or dismissed.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Here is Marc Edwards of Va Tech on The News Hour recently (they don't date their transcripts):

    "EPA today claimed that they didn’t know if they could enforce federal law. EPA didn’t know if they could enforce federal law or not. They said also that they were strong-armed by the state. I mean, how can you be strong-armed by someone you’re supposed to be supervising? And even more outrageous is, they have claimed that they warned Flint residents in July that the water wasn’t safe to drink, when, in fact, when Virginia Tech, our team, tried to warn people in July, August and September that the water was unsafe, we had to fight the EPA.

    EPA said nothing to back us up. So they are a major part of what went wrong in Flint, and for them to sit there and act like they have done nothing wrong is just, again, outrageous and Orwellian."

    ReplyDelete
  3. Here is Marc Edwards of Va Tech on The News Hour recently (they don't date their transcripts):

    "EPA today claimed that they didn’t know if they could enforce federal law. EPA didn’t know if they could enforce federal law or not. They said also that they were strong-armed by the state. I mean, how can you be strong-armed by someone you’re supposed to be supervising? And even more outrageous is, they have claimed that they warned Flint residents in July that the water wasn’t safe to drink, when, in fact, when Virginia Tech, our team, tried to warn people in July, August and September that the water was unsafe, we had to fight the EPA.

    EPA said nothing to back us up. So they are a major part of what went wrong in Flint, and for them to sit there and act like they have done nothing wrong is just, again, outrageous and Orwellian."

    ReplyDelete
  4. I definitely agree with TDH that racism needs to be better examined than how the Times handles it. However, it should also be noted that this requries a lot of work. Racism is understood in the US to be a very bad thing. When someone engages in it as a matter of policy, they use code words. From a motivation standpoint, it can be very difficult to actually find overt evidence for someone *wanting* to do a racist act, even if that's what they set out to do.

    And to top it off, then when some brave dissidents such as the Black Panther Party, Noam Chomsky etc. do put in the work they are laughed off as conspiratorial loonies!

    ReplyDelete
  5. I have often wondered what a certain flyweight legacy meant when he said "I took the intiative in creating the internet" or "I found a little place in upstate
    New York called Love Canal."

    ReplyDelete
  6. Looking forward to Somerby following up now that the incompetent A. Rosenthal struck again on his way to the Hampton's, dropping the "B" bomb sll over North Carolina.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/25/opinion/transgender-law-makes-north-carolina-pioneer-in-bigotry.html

    ReplyDelete
  7. And they wonder why so many of us are backing Trump.

    ReplyDelete
  8. In order to prevent the lead in the pipes in Flint from leaching into the water and poisoning the men,women,and children of Flint the City of Flint would have had to spend about $100 dollars a day for about 4 months. The Governor of Michigan Rick Snyder in concert with the city manager he handpicked decided that this paltry amount was too much to spend. The question must be asked would that same decision have been made had the city of Flint been populated by well to do white people? The answer is obvious. Bob you are a man that spent at least part of your adult life as an educator. You taught poor black kids and yet you act like racism is a phantom issue like witches or little green men. You know racism exists. Stop using the term R word like even saying racism is some kind of racist slur. What IS happening in Flint is racism.And the city of Flint will end up like Love Canal because the powers that be in Michigan will again decide that the cost to clean up Flint is to much to spend for THOSE people.Cut the bullshit Bob and speak truth to power.

    ReplyDelete
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