Will Washington Post's Hiring of Former WSJ Opinion Editor Bring Climate Deniers to its Pages?

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Washington Post offices

This is a guest post by ClimateDenierRoundup.

On Tuesday evening, The Washington Post announced that it has hired Mark Lasswell to be the paper’s associate op-ed editor. According to the post, Lasswell oversaw The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page from 2012 through 2016.

The Post’s hire continues the worrying trend of legitimate media bending over backwards to accommodate conservative opinions, like The New York Times’ hiring of the Journal’s climate bullshitter Bret Stephens. Or Bari Weiss, who formerly worked with Lasswell at The Wall Street Journal and now writes for The Times where she pens puff pieces for hate speechmisunderstands cultural appropriation, and criticizes the #MeToo movement.

We don’t know for sure what Lasswell will bring to The Washington Post, and we don’t know how much his former employer’s questionable ownership influenced his editorial decisions. Given the drama around Lasswell’s ousting — word is that he pushed to run op-eds criticizing Trump’s business, against his bosses’ wishes — we have faint hope that he may want to abandon all the terrible racist content The Journal’s opinion page has featured during his tenure.

But we know exactly what The Wall Street Journal opinion page’s climate content looked like under his watch, and it’s not good.

By our count (just ask if you’d like to see the list) from 2012 to 2016, The Wall Street Journal’s opinion page published at least 303 op-eds, columns, and editorials relevant to climate change.

Of those 303 pieces, three are scientifically accurate on climate, but by way of supporting natural gas. One piece is supportive of climate action by way of being pro-nuclear. One column reeks of denial, but nevertheless acknowledges that a carbon tax would be a good solution. Three are special debates that feature a decent argument for climate action, and eight are actually quite honest pieces that are climate-friendly and without any big problems.

The remaining 287 pieces are full of misleading and debunked denial talking pointsconspiracy theories, and political attacks. Per our back-of-the-napkin math, this means roughly 95 percent of the climate-related opinion content published under Lasswell’s watch disagrees with the roughly 97 percent consensus among climate scientists that warming is a problem caused by burning fossil fuels.

Is five percent accuracy what The Washington Post is aspiring to? Do they need more conservative thought on the opinion page when they already have three columnists who have in the past provided a lobbyist-driven, factually wrong but politically correct, right-wing perspective on climate change?

(To be fair, it would still take quite a bit to stoop as low as the Journal: The Post also has the conservative-but-not-in-denial Jennifer Rubin, plenty of other climate-honest columnists, and of course cartoonist Tom Toles, who co-authored a book on climate with Dr. Michael Mann.)

We don’t know if Lasswell will write columns too, but we are wondering if The Post’s op-eds and editorials will start to reflect The Wall Street Journal’s consistent, decades-long anti-science opposition to environmental protections of all types.

Let’s hope not. Let’s hope The Post lets readers know when a writer has a conflict of interest and commits to fact checking its opinion page as rigorously as it does regular reporting. Because where there’s good fact checking, there’s no denial.

Main image: The Washington Post offices Credit: Max BorgeCC BY-NC 2.0

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