“The news reporters give you public-relations fluff; the editorialists give you facts.”
Noam Chomsky, MIT’s famously anti-American professor of linguistics, used to say to his audiences something like: All my evidence comes from an ultra-Left source—The Wall Street Journal.
Audiences would laugh, but the joke was on them. Students of journalism know well that the Journal’s conservative reputation is based entirely on its editorial page. Its news pages, studies have shown, can tilt further to the Left than even the New York Times or the Washington Post.
Never was that schism more clearly displayed than on December 11, 2020.
A lead news headline screamed that the biggest “Green” companies were becoming larger corporations than the major oil companies. “The New Green Energy Giants Challenging Exxon and BP.”
On the same day, a lead editorial headline noted that the subsidization of “Green” companies was producing corporate failure and taxpayer losses: “Another Green Subsidy Bust.”
But the content of the news story was mostly puffery, while the editorial was based on news reporting.
News Reporters Do Advocacy
So what was the big noise about Green Energy companies in the Journal news department on December 11, 2020? “They are fast-growing giants with market values rivaling the likes of oil majors.” OK. What are they doing to produce profit-making value?
“These companies [are] on track to become the major energy companies of the coming decades.” OK. And what are they doing to produce profit-making value?
“Each of the companies has seen its share price soar in recent months as investors bet on their ability to lead the transition to a lower-carbon future.” OK. And what are they doing to produce profit-making value?
Well, “Florida-based NextEra grew into America’s largest renewable energy producer by …. capitalizing on federal tax subsidies.” Oh. Maybe you should have put that that in the lead paragraph.
Editorialists Do the Reporting
How different is the approach of the WSJ editorial, “Another Green Subsidy Bust.” In the first paragraph, the facts and figures begin: “Tonopah operated the Crescent Dunes solar plant in Nevada that received $737 million in guaranteed loans from the Obama Administration.”
In the second paragraph, more facts and figures: “The [judge-approved Chapter 11] plan includes a settlement with the Department of Energy that leaves taxpayers liable for as much as $234.68 million in outstanding debt.”
Still in the second paragraph, more facts and figures: “In 2017 the [Crescent Dunes] plant received more than $275.6 million from Treasury under the Section 1603 program.”
Do you sense a pattern here? The news reporters give you public-relations fluff; the editorialists give you facts.