Friday, March 21, 2008

Jeff Miller's Mendacity - Masked Again

Wednesday, the U.S. Interior Department auctioned off 36 drilling tracts in the Gulf of Mexico, including the controversial Eastern Gulf area 125 miles offshore from Pensacola now designated "Lease Sale 224." As the International Tribune reports --
In a first-ever lease sale in an area of the eastern Gulf opened to drilling by Congress in 2006, the bidding was tame. * * * MMS [Mineral Management Services] had expected a lower $50 million ... in winning bids in that area, which, to this stage, has not been subjected to seismic studies.
Senators and congressmen are home for the holidays, hoping to kiss up to the voters. So Florida's two U.S. senators, Bill Nelson and Mel Martinez, are loudly claiming credit for keeping the rigs away from Florida's shores. That's okay with us. A hundred and twenty-five miles south of Pensacola Beach is better than the alternative the Bush administration was pushing.

But credit for Northwest Florida's congressman, Jeff Miller, too? Impossible! you say. After all, wasn't it Miller who voted "to pour oil all over our beaches," as Bryan over at Why Now? reported at the time?

Yes, it was.

And wasn't it Miller who deceptively claimed that allowing rigs in the near shore off Pensacola Beach was the only way to "save" Florida's beaches?

Yes, again.

And wasn't Miller identified by multiple news reports as "undercutting fellow Florida congressmen and senators of both parties" by voting for a proposal that would have allowed oil and gas drilling within 50 miles of Pensacola Beach?

Yes to that, too.

So, imagine our surprise when we opened the front page of today's Pensacola News Journal and our eyes fell on the report from a Gannett D.C Bureau reporter, Eun Kyung Kim, suggesting that Miller is trying to claim credit for the very Senate bill he fiercely opposed! "Miller," writes Kim with absolutely no idea what he's talking about, "has long maintained that such activity cannot be less than 100 miles from shore, nor can it violate the area the Defense Department uses for its military weapons testing."

What can possibly account for such irresponsible, bogus reporting? Sloth, ignorance, or a deep-seated bias. There aren't many other explanations.

Even the one quote Kim managed to snag doesn't support his own report. Miller is "not going to oppose the sale of this. It's not something that conflicts with his position on the issue," a Miller aide said lied.

Gee, who knew that a D.C. Bureau newspaper reporter is supposed to swallow whole everything a politician's P.R. spokesman says?

If there was any question about it, now it's certain that Gannett's D.C. Bureau is an unreliable source for reporting on the actual position and performance of Florida congressmen. But that only raises another question: Why would Pensacola News Journal editors let Kim's spurious report slip by them?

We aren't sure, but to the above short list of possible explanations we'll have to add "newsroom budget cuts." From what we can tell, Gannett has been starving the News Journal of talent for a long, long time. The local paper well may be so malnourished by now that you could serve them stenography and call it journalism.

In fact, someone just did.

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