So, what other false headlines are acceptable in WaPo blogger world?

At The Washington Post, it often seems like liberal bloggers rule the roost. And as the 2014 campaign ramps up, two of those bloggers have made it clear that telling a falsehood is perfectly ethical — as long as it starts a discussion.


Last week, two Wonk Blog writers claimed the Keystone Pipeline would benefit the Koch brothers. They did so by pointing out some information that would be devastating, were it based in reality:

You might expect the biggest lease owner in Canada’s oil sands, or tar sands, to be one of the international oil giants, like Exxon Mobil or Royal Dutch Shell. But that isn’t the case. The biggest lease holder in the northern Alberta oil sands is a subsidiary of Koch Industries, the privately-owned cornerstone of the fortune of conservative Koch brothers Charles and David.

This false information (more on that below) was also stated in the headline. The bloggers, Steven Mufson and Juliet Eilperin, claimed this finding would likely “inflame” the Keystone Pipeline debate, even though their post noted the Kochs have zero benefit from the pipeline:

The link between Koch and Keystone XL is, however, indirect at best. Koch’s oil production in northern Alberta is “negligible,” according to industry sources and quarterly publications of the provincial government. Moreover, Koch has not reserved any space in the Keystone XL pipeline, a process that usually takes place before a pipeline is built.  The pipeline also does not run anywhere near Koch’s refining facilities. And TransCanada, owner of the Keystone routes, says Koch is not expected to be one of the pipeline’s customers.

Enter Power Line’s John Hinderaker, who proved that not only will the Koch Brothers likely not benefit from Keystone, their interests might actually be harmed by its presence. :


The astonishing thing about the IFG report is that it admitted that the Keystone Pipeline will damage Koch’s economic interests. Keystone would funnel Canadian oil to the Midwest, thereby driving down oil prices in that region. The original IFG report admitted that this would cost Koch $120 billion! Now, that is a stupid number based on a 50-year projection. But still, the basic point is correct: the Keystone Pipeline would hurt Koch Enterprises economically, which is why Koch has never come out in favor of the pipeline or lobbied on its behalf.

Furthermore, they aren’t actually the largest leaser in the oil sands:

So the fundamental point of the Post story, which relied uncritically on a goofball far-left report, is dead wrong. Moreover, the Post story itself acknowledges that the tar sands encompass 35 million acres, so Koch’s 1.1 million comprise less than 3% of the total. The whole point of this exercise is to make the Keystone Pipeline all about Koch, and that premise is implausible from the start.

Here comes the kicker — Mufson and Eilperin actually responded to Hinderaker, and closed their sophomoric defense with this:

The Powerline article itself, and its tone, is strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year. That’s why we wrote the piece.

Jonah Goldberg hit the nail on the proverbial head when he commented on the situation:

By this logic any unfair attack posing as reporting is worthwhile when people try to correct the record. Why not just have at it and accuse the Kochs of killing JFK or hiding the Malaysian airplane? The resulting criticism would once again provide “strong evidence that issues surrounding the Koch brothers’ political and business interests will stir and inflame public debate in this election year.”


This whole debacle reminds me of a 2012 post by Greg Sargent, who as I pointed out at the time blogged that even though the Priorities USA Action ad claiming Mitt Romney was responsible for a woman’s death from cancer was false, “the ad dramatizes a larger story about what has happened to the middle class in this country…”

In 2014, many Democrats have made many dishonest statements about the Koch brothers and their involvement in American politics. I look forward to the Post holding Mufson and Eilperin accountable for their damaging contribution to the culture of falsehoods.

Okay, so that was another false statement — I have no doubt these two will continue to make income at the Post for writing dishonest blog posts. But my comment may get a conversation started about media accountability, so by Post blogger logic, it’s a-okay.

(H/T to Red State’s Moe Lane.)

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