San Antonio Express-News

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  • San Antonio Express-News Won't Endorse Lamar Smith, Citing “Bullying Tactics” On Climate Change

    Blog ››› ››› ANDREW SEIFTER

    In past elections, the San Antonio Express-News has endorsed House Science Committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-TX) because of his “undeniably conservative credentials.” But this year, the newspaper is refusing to endorse Smith, citing his “bullying on the issue of climate change” as behavior that “should concern all Americans.”

    Smith has wrongly alleged that attorneys general investigations into ExxonMobil’s climate change deception threaten Exxon’s First Amendment rights, when in fact, as the Express-News noted, “The issue is fraud -- alleged at a state level -- and whether the corporate giant withheld information from shareholders and others.” Smith and other Republican members of the House Science Committee responded to the Exxon investigations by demanding documents from attorneys general and environmentally focused organizations, which drew criticism from legal scholars, and Smith recently expanded his subpoena campaign to include a separate investigation of Exxon by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

    The Express-News also noted that Smith has sought to “chill” scientific inquiry by “threaten[ing] the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [NOAA], Kathryn Sullivan, with criminal charges if she didn’t release emails from scientists about a certain climate change study.” Smith baselessly accused NOAA of manipulating temperature records to show a warming trend, when in reality, NOAA routinely makes adjustments to historical temperature records that are peer-reviewed and necessary to account for changes to measuring instruments and other factors.

    Smith has accepted over $770,000 in career campaign contributions from the oil and gas and electric utility industries, according to data compiled by the Center for Responsive Politics. He is being challenged for his congressional seat by Democrat Tom Wakely.

    From the San Antonio Express-News editorial, which appeared in the newspaper’s print edition on October 18:

    In elections past, we have supported U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith’s bids for re-election.

    We no longer can. We offer no recommendation in this race. Smith is being challenged by Democrat Thomas Wakely and by Libertarian and Green candidates as well.

    We’ve argued that Smith’s undeniably conservative credentials have been a good fit for the 21st Congressional District. However, Smith’s actions have developed more transparently this last term into an issue that goes beyond the boundaries of his district.

    A particular issue is his abuse of his position as chairman of the House Science, Space and Technology Committee. Specifically, it is his bullying on the issue of climate change that should concern all Americans.

    [...]

    Smith issued subpoenas on the New York and Massachusetts attorneys general, environmental groups, philanthropies and an attorney after the states began investigating Exxon Mobil over allegations the company buried its own global warming research in the 1970s.

    The issue is fraud — alleged at a state level — and whether the corporate giant withheld information from shareholders and others. Think Big Tobacco, which had early knowledge of the cancer dangers of its products. Smith has contended it is a First Amendment issue, the right of a company to speak its mind.

    [...]

    Thoughtful action is what the public has been due from Smith. But last year Smith threatened the head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Kathryn Sullivan, with criminal charges if she didn’t release emails from scientists about a certain climate change study. That study refuted gospel by deniers that global warming slowed between 1998 and 2012.

    Smith said he was shielding scientific inquiry. But the real effect would be to chill such efforts.

  • What The Media Should Know About A Proposed Title X Funding Rule And Planned Parenthood

    Planned Parenthood Is An Essential Health Care Provider -- And A New Rule Could Help Protect Its Funding From Political Attacks

    ››› ››› SHARON KANN

    In September 2016, the Obama administration proposed a rule that would stop anti-choice lawmakers from diverting federal family planning money -- distributed to states through Title X -- away from Planned Parenthood. With support from right-wing media, several states have attempted to defund Planned Parenthood based on the misinformation that there are ample replacements already available at the local level.

  • Ahead Of SCOTUS Hearing, TX Media Highlight Negative Impacts Of "Dangerous" Anti-Choice Law

    ››› ››› TYLER CHERRY

    On March 2, the Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, a "landmark case" that is challenging strict anti-choice Texas provisions, commonly known under its bill name HB 2, that medical groups say only serve to "reduce women's access to abortion." Many Texas media outlets are highlighting the negative impacts of restrictive abortion access, noting that Texas' anti-choice law is making abortions more "dangerous," "confusing," and "unattainable," specifically for rape victims, low-income women, Latina and immigrant women, and service women.

  • Study: Top Fracking States Ignore Findings That Their Drinking Water Is At Risk

    ››› ››› DENISE ROBBINS

    A recent national report from the Government Accountability Office found that a higher regulatory standard is needed to ensure that drinking water sources are protected from fracking wastewater practices. But the largest circulating newspapers of the states with the highest levels of fracking production -- therefore among the most vulnerable to its risks -- have ignored this study.

  • Texas Journalists: Lt. Gov's Threat To Arrest Reporters "Worrisome"

    Blog ››› ››› JOE STRUPP

    The Texas lieutenant governor's recent threat that statehouse reporters could potentially be arrested and jailed if their behavior is deemed "not respectful" of the legislature is being called "worrisome" and "absurd" by Texas journalists.

    Several editors and reporters who have been covering the contentious abortion debate in the state Senate, which drew national interest last week during an 11-hour filibuster that derailed the legislation, said Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst's threats of potential arrest during an interview Friday raised concerns.

    During a June 28 interview with HotAir.com's Ed Morrissey, Dewhurst said that his staff was reviewing security tapes of the Senate gallery to examine the behavior of reporters during the demonstration that occurred as Republican leaders failed to pass the bill before the legislative session expired. Dewhurst explained:

    "We have reports and I have my staff taking a look at the video, the internet video that we keep, we store, on the proceedings that evening and if I find as I've been told examples of the media waving and trying to inflame the crowd, incite them in the direction of a riot, I'm going to take action against them. That is wrong. That's inciting a riot. That is wrong. And we have a provision in our rules that if people do not deport themselves with decorum, they're not respectful of the legislative process, one of our rules says we can imprison them up to 48 hours. Of course that was out of the question with that many people, but it is, we take a democratic policy seriously."

    Within a day, Dewhurst's office backpedaled from the threat, claiming they had reviewed tapes of the session and found nothing worth pursuing.

    Still, several journalists are speaking out with concern that such a threat was even made and the option of arresting reporters even considered.

    "As I listened to this, I said, 'what the hell is this, you're going to throw us in jail?'" said Wayne Slater, a longtime political reporter for the Dallas Morning News, who posted video of the HotAir.com interview on his blog. "The first thing I thought of is there are other countries that do this, where they arrest reporters whose work they don't like or who don't report things or act in the way the majority likes. It seemed absurd to me because there are countries that do this and we are not one of them."

    After Slater posted the interview video on his Morning News blog Saturday, he said Dewhurst's office called him within hours to backtrack on the comments.

    "They saw it and made a decision fairly quickly that they had to pull back from this," he said. "To call and say no media did anything wrong."

    But that did not stop other journalists from criticizing the original comments and worrying about what they could mean for future reporting.

    "As a newspaper editor, the lieutenant governor's statement I found worrisome," said Steve Proctor, managing editor of the Houston Chronicle. "If any action were taken against a Houston Chronicle reporter, they would be defended vigorously. Any editor is going to consider that worrisome."

    He said even a hint of such action can be negative to reporters' work: "I want to be able to cover the news without interruption or interference, so you are always worried when there is interference on the information."

  • Baltimore Sun, San Antonio Express-News endorsements wrongly suggest McCain still supports comprehensive immigration reform

    ››› ››› ERIC HANANOKI

    In endorsing Sen. John McCain's bid for the Republican presidential nomination, The Baltimore Sun asserted that McCain has "stood his ground" on "immigration reform." However, while McCain now says that border security must be addressed first, he previously said that border security could not be disaggregated from other provisions in the legislation on immigration reform. Similarly, the San Antonio Express-News claimed in its endorsement of McCain that his "advocacy for comprehensive immigration reform" is among the positions that may "be attractive" to "independent voters"; but McCain has said he "would not" vote for his own comprehensive immigration reform proposals.