Carol Leonnig

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  • Wash. Post Omits Crucial Context For Gore's Green Investments

    Charges Of Cronyism Undermined By Gore Donating "Every Penny" To Charity

    Blog ››› ››› MAX GREENBERG

    The Washington Post today reported at length on former Vice President Al Gore's investments in clean energy companies, but in lending credence to cronyism claims from Republicans, the Post ignored that Gore said he donated "every penny" he made on green investments to his nonprofit organization and exaggerated the amount of stimulus money available to the clean energy firms Gore invested in.

    In a front-page article, the Post cited a 2009 exchange between Gore and Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) during testimony before the House Energy and Commerce Committee:

    One of the rare times Gore addressed the questions, at a congressional hearing in 2009, Republicans had suggested that Obama's agenda appeared destined to help him become the nation's first "carbon billionaire."

    Gore bristled when Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) asked if he stood to profit from his investments and political connections.

    "I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it," he said. "And, congresswoman, if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me."

    But the Post omitted a sentence where Gore testified that he donated "every penny" he has made in clean energy companies to his nonprofit organization, the Alliance for Climate Protection:

    BLACKBURN: So you're a partner in Kleiner Perkins. OK. Now, they have invested about a billion dollars in 40 companies that are going to benefit from cap-and-trade legislation. So is the legislation that we are discussing here today, is that something that you are going to personally benefit from?

    GORE: I believe that the transition to a green economy is good for our economy and good for all of us, and I have invested in it. But every penny that I have made, I have put right into a nonprofit, the Alliance for Climate Protection, to spread awareness of why we have to take on this challenge.

    And Congresswoman, if you're -- if you believe that the reason I have been working on this issue for 30 years is because of greed, you don't know me.

    The Post's cropped quote left out crucial context for their readers, and mirrored the selective editing that O'Reilly Factor guest host Laura Ingraham used in 2009.

  • A Closer Look At The Wash. Post's Solyndra Reporting

    Blog ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    Post screengrabOn the day after Thanksgiving, Washington Post ombudsman Patrick Pexton called on readers to "give thanks" for Post reporters Carol Leonnig and Joe Stephens, who have been "dogging the trail of Solyndra." Pexton said their reporting on Solyndra showed that the Post produces journalism that is "hard-hitting regardless of who is in power."

    Leonnig and Stephens have certainly provided the play-by-play of the political battle over Solyndra's failure. As Pexton notes, much of their reporting relied on the Republican-led investigation by the House Energy and Commerce Committee, with each strategically-timed document release and hearing garnering a Post article or two.

    Pexton didn't analyze the Post's coverage in detail or with a critical eye, so here are some of my own observations:

    • The Post has published 43 articles related to Solyndra since August 31, not including opinion pieces (according to a Nexis search; full list below). For comparison, the paper published 15 articles related to the Keystone XL pipeline in the same period. Thirty-four of the 43 articles are bylined by Leonnig, Stephens or both. Energy reporter Steven Mufson has a byline on 8 of the articles, but is not mentioned in Pexton's piece.
    • Twenty-six of the Post articles mentioned that Obama fundraiser George Kaiser is tied to investment funds that owned a large percentage of Solyndra. Only one article noted that before Obama took office and before his stimulus law existed, the Bush administration chose Solyndra "as one of 16 finalists" for a loan guarantee. That article was written by Mufson, with Leonning listed as a second author. It did not provide the number of applications (143) from which Bush's DOE chose finalists. Another 3 articles mentioned in passing that the Solyndra loan process began during the Bush administration, and a Solyndra timeline published by the Post entirely omitted the Bush administration's role in advancing the loan guarantee. Only one article noted that Madrone Capital, a firm associated with Wal-Mart Chairman Rob Walton, was another major investor in Solyndra.
    • One of the 43 articles noted that default rate for the program is much less than what the government budgeted for losses. Bloomberg reported that the government "planned for defaults of as much as 12.85 percent" for the loan guarantee program, and that as of now, the default rate "is less than 3.6 percent." Only one of the 43 Post articles mentioned the budgeted failure rate. Four articles mentioned that funds were set aside to cover losses from the program -- 3 of those articles were written by Mufson and the other was in a quote from a DOE spokesman.
  • Wash. Post Beck beat: Paper follows Fox host's lead in tying SEIU to ACORN

    ››› ››› JOCELYN FONG

    On the heels of Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander's September 20 suggestion that the paper "should pay attention" to Fox News, the Post published an October 6 article headlined, "Some Criticize SEIU for Its ACORN Connections." In echoing Glenn Beck's fixation with "connections" between ACORN and SEIU, the Post gave no indication why "connections" between the two organizations would be inappropriate -- or in any way newsworthy.