Steven F. Hayward and the 3rd anniversary of an historic failure...
By Brad Friedman on 4/20/2013, 6:05am PT  

Today is the three year anniversary of BP's Deepwater Horizon oil spill and manslaughter disaster. 11 men were killed and more than 200 million gallons of crude spilled into the Gulf in what would turn out to be the largest accidental oil spill in world history.

A remark on last week's Real Time with Bill Maher drew my attention back to the woeful "advocacy journalism" (I'm being kind there) of those on the Right who continue, even to this day, to perform public relations work for the fossil fuel industry under the guise of "journalism".

Maher cited an embarrassing quote from an article by Steven F. Hayward, published by the unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything Weekly Standard (the "brain"-child of its also-unapologetically-wrong-on-just-about-everything editors William Kristol and Fred Barnes) which, for non-RW loon reporters, might have been a career-ender. Or, at least, for non-RW loon reporters, it might have led to the humblest of apologies and acknowledgment for having been so tragically wrong. No such apologies or contrition occur in RW Media "Expert" Land, unfortunately, where there is no inaccuracy too wrong and no prognostication so off base that it might cause shame or humility or, gasp, an invitation from its publishers to never write there again.

Just days before the explosion of BP's rig and the death of those workers (BP recently pleaded guilty to 11 counts of manslaughter, after which nobody from BP went to jail, naturally), Hayward wrote: "Few areas of national policy offer as bad a ratio of blather to substance as energy. It is a field where cliché, wishful thinking, and wince-inducing ignorance dominate the discourse."

"No matter how patiently or repeatedly the myths and realities of energy are explained," Hayward condescended, "we are nowhere near being able to replace God's gift of dirty, toxic fossil fuels with clean, renewable energy. "Liberals," he noted, "are the worst offenders," when it comes to this naive, misinformed wishful thinking.

Hayward, the sage and much-smarter-than-you Fellow from the American Enterprise Institute, went on to write in his article, published on April 16, 2010 [emphasis added]...

The two main reasons oil and other fossil fuels became environmentally incorrect in the 1970s—air pollution and risk of oil spills—are largely obsolete. Improvements in drilling technology have greatly reduced the risk of the kind of offshore spill that occurred off Santa Barbara in 1969. ... To fear oil spills from offshore rigs today is analogous to fearing air travel now because of prop plane crashes in the 1950s.

Just four days later, on April 20, 2010, the Deepwater Horizon exploded in the Gulf.

That's not all he was wrong about, of course. The same article article also offered the wisdom --- just two years prior to the hottest year in recorded history in the contiguous U.S. and the ninth hottest year on record globally --- that "the case for catastrophic global warming" was "in free fall"...

While actual journalists might have been embarrassed and humiliated and even apologized profusely for the embarrassing statements in that article, Hayward, being a RW "journalist", went on to follow up the article in a subsequent Weekly Standard piece just two months later (while millions of gallons of crude were still gushing uncontrollably into the Gulf), headlined "How to Think About Oil Spills: The perils of overreaction", wherein he began by acknowledging his previous sniff at those who "fear oil spills from offshore rights today" with a pretend "big mea culpa", only to go on to argue that "The basic point was nonetheless correct."

Hayward, of course, was not alone in his misleading commentary prior to BP's disaster, as Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting pointed out in the month that followed the spill. And it wasn't only Rightwingers in the media who were exposed as clowns. Even President Barack Obama, on April 2, 2010, just over two weeks prior to the spill, declared "oil rigs today generally don't cause spills."

Obama, of course, was generally right, as was Hayward's "basic point." While those rigs and the wells they drill leak all the time, they don't generally cause spills of the likes the Deepwater Horizon disaster. On the other hand, when they do, it is catastrophic. And it only takes one such spill to bear that out. And when they don't, they are still producing a toxic product that continues to poison the planet in dangerously irreversible ways.

Despite his own proud, if "wince-inducing ignorance", the unapologetic Steven F. Hayward continues to pen more fossil fuel industry propaganda, more discredited cover stories, and even another denier article titled "The Climate Circus Leaves Town" in the magazine's latest issue, on the third anniversary of his most infamous "wince-inducing ignorance."

For The Weekly Standard, and other similar Rightwing PR outlets, apparently, there remain no such "standards" at all.