WaPo Op-Ed: Laws for the Masses, Shelter the Elites
Yes, the Washington Post has actually taken the stand that the Freedom of Information Act is "misused" by folks like me trying to get to the bottom of Climategate.
June 1, 2011 - 7:40 am
The Washington Post has printed an editorial sniveling about a court order, prompted by a lawsuit, laying out how the University of Virginia must release certain records. These records relate to a former faculty member and pertain to the Climategate and “hockey stick graph” scandals.
The editorial expresses umbrage with my seeking out the records on behalf of the America Tradition Institute, which I suppose is more palatable for the WaPo to do than actually reporting that the school in fact agreed to hand over the records — just one day before having to go before a judge who would likely have ordered the release.
But how dare I, a “skeptic,” utilize a law the Left passed! Says the piece:
Freedom information laws are critical tools that allow Americans to see what their leaders do on their behalf. But some global warming skeptics in Virginia are showing that even the best tools can be misused.
Accordingly, WaPo’s complaint is with the law — a new complaint, what with the law long being on the books with its clear verbiage. For now, in this instance at least, the WaPo is parading as anti-Freedom of Information Act activists. One man’s transparency about where tax money is spent is a newspaper’s moral outrage.
It’s a fair guess that this editorial is part of an organized public affairs pushback, one we know is underway by UVa’s third-party pressure group colleagues: ACLU-VA, People For the American Way, and other groups. (UVa has stated that this pressure campaign is “imagined” by us, though they have leaned heavily on the campaign while pleading against Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s request for the same records, and added another exhibit to it in the very same pleadings protesting our request.) Possibly the school was involved as well — we have reasons for believing they’re concerned about the corner they have painted themselves into.
This editorial is indicative of how the academic, science, and media establishments get the vapors at the prospect of having to uniformly apply a law – note that Greenpeace has used FOIA to get the records of UVA “skeptic” Pat Michaels. That apparently didn’t warrant a WaPo staff op-ed.
Most disappointing, if not surprising, is that on Friday when WaPo contacted me I provided them with a copy of (Virginia taxpayer-supported) George Mason University’s response to another request of mine, which stated in pertinent part:
In accordance with the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (§2.2-3700, et seq.) and per your request received on May 18, 2011 for the following information:
1. Any correspondence to the University’s administration commenting on or objecting to VFOIA requests for Wegman records, or to release of Wegman records under VFOIA, from:
a. American Civil Liberties Union, either the national organization or its Virginia chapter
b. American Association of University Professors
c. American Association for the Advancement of Science
2. Copies of all correspondence from the University’s administration responding to any such correspondence from those same parties.
Please know that in an effort to fulfill this request, a search for these records was conducted and no documents pertaining to this request could be found.
Most damning of all is — as I also noted to the Post’s writer, who clearly knew what he wanted to write, and politely remained unflustered as I repeated how we simply ask that the law be applied as it reads — that other records released by GMU of a critic of former UVa Professor Michael Mann made at least one, and really two, national media stories. With no accompanying outcry from the Post or its allied pressure groups supposedly crying out against our request as a matter of principle. You see, these FOIA requests and subsequent stories were part of a narrative being developed by the same folks now leaning on WaPo to weigh in on this matter, and therefore somehow different.
I note two silver linings to the editorial, however: WaPo finally plugged my second book, which specifically detailed the scandal of ClimateGate a year before it happened, when the leak simply affirmed what many of us “skeptics” already knew.
And second, WaPo reminds us that some of our establishment elites only argue the law when the law may support their aims. When it doesn’t, they advance silly – yet not so funny — arguments about how awful it is when the wrong citizens “misuse” it. Always remember that academics, jurisdiction-fleeing Hollywood directors, and leftist journalists are different than you and I.