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Dave Roberts on "The real problem with Solyndra media coverage"

2 min. read

Over at Grist, David Roberts does a great job explaining the flaws in media coverage generally, and Politico's coverage specifically, of the Solyndra non-scandal. Here's an excerpt:

I've spent time in Washington, D.C., so I'm somewhat familiar with the bizarre, distorting bubble effect that comes with staying there too long. But when you've come to the point that you're making facile comparisons between the Deepwater Horizon spill and the Solyndra bankruptcy, when you're seeing them both through the lens of which party is scoring points on the other, you need to take a f'ing vacation.

And if you're a reporter who's taking that comparison seriously, dutifully writing a story on it, you have lost your goddamn perspective.

That's the real complaint about Solyndra coverage and the real complaint about the self-referential Beltway media cycle -- not only that it is driven and shaped by conservatives, but that it has completely lost touch with the real world.

The bottom line here is that dirty energy interests, as well as their allies in the political world, are always going to have tremendous incentives to turn stories like the Solyndra bankruptcy into a major "scandal," even though they almost never are.  And, sadly, a compliant media appears perfectly willing - even eager - to play along, ignoring far more important stories, as the "controversial" stories drive ratings and readership to their outlets, journalistic responsibility be damned.

Meanwhile, as we waste time discussing an isolated situation with one specific solar company in an industry that's booming (see here for much more on that subject from Andrea Leucke of the Solar Foundation), other countries are racing ahead to dominate the 21st century clean energy economy, while the United States risks losing out on an enormous opportunity for business and also for world leadership.  Perhaps that's a story the media might actually get around to covering at some point, perhaps when they're not too busy pumping up a relatively minor story into a huge "scandal?"