It is time to stop quivering in our boots in pointless fear of the future and just roll up our sleeves and build it.
- Ray Pierrehumbert

Monday, April 13, 2009

Morano vs Montana



I suppose a blog like this one ought to take note of the fact that Mark Morano's web project is up and running; and it takes the interesting approach of trying to be the Drudge site of the global environment. Some serious stories are actually represented, though a bit swamped by denial stories,and peculiar diversions (the "millions for sheep farts study" thing again, for instance, via an obscure little news article from a small town newspaper in Australia. Note to press: ruminant emissions are really a major source of methane, but are not actually farts.)

What really strikes me more than anything is the fact that he links to this very website. His minions therefore show little probability of leaving me alone if I should blunder into sound-bite territory again. Welcome, then, Morano minions. (I suppose you already know that I think you should reconsider your employment on ethical grounds, but I digress.)

Second only to that is this: in his initial foray Morano has not one but two articles on Miley Cyrus a.k.a. Hannah Montana, a teen idol for the tween set recruited and groomed by the Disney enterprise.
"And the one thing that I talk about a lot is my faith. So I try to keep politics out of it and what not, but I am very into just like the whole taking care of the environment and everything,"
she says. A good girl, most readers will think in the casual and inattentive way that they read articles of that sort. About as forgettable a bit of news as is imagineable, right?

Apparently not. Morano thinks it's worthy of note. This Morano technique of expanding incidental statements into national monuments has hit me as well as regular readers will recall, but you can sort of squint and spin me into someone whose opinion matters. But what sort of a story is this: child star earnest and inarticulate on environmental issues! So?

Now what would be the point of quoting a sixteen year old pop star on an environmental news site? True "I am very into just like the whole taking care of the environment and everything" sounds rather juvenile, but Ms. Cyrus is, actually, a child and can be forgiven on that account.

Context:

IML: What's the toughest thing about living in the spotlight?

Miley: I think just having a camera on you all the time gets kind of frustrating, because if you make a mistake, like if you say or do something really stupid, the whole world knows about it. It's not just your family or friends. Sometimes I'll watch something back and think, "What am I doing? I'm like the biggest geek!" Sometimes my friends will call me and say, "Did you see that commercial? You were such a nerd!" And I'm like, "Thanks guys, I love you too!"

IML: So even though you're in the spotlight, do you still have to do chores at home like other teens?

Miley: I do. I just learned how to use the dishwasher. That was our rule. The first time, it was like a movie. The bubbles started coming out. I was like, "Oh wait, maybe I'm not supposed to just pour the soap all over the inside. Oh, that little container? That's where I'm supposed to put it! I got in so much trouble. Also when I was doing laundry, I shrunk my mother's favorite pair of jeans. In my family, because our legs are so long, we're not supposed to put jeans in the dryer because they'll shrink up, we have to hang them outside to dry the old fashioned way. Now she's got really cute capris!

Publicly mocking children's efforts to understand the world, even famous children, would seem to me stretching propriety a bit far. The only purpose is to implicitly tar the opposition with an accusation of childishness. Presumably, though, children who can sing and dance can be found saying not especially insightful things in favor of one's opposition without too much difficulty. I fail to see why this is worthy of note.

Morano appears to be drawing six figures from this venture. I've been hearing some moaning that there isn't comparable funding on the "other side". Whether that's true or not (I certainly haven't seen any sign of such funding), I am not sure it's worth worrying about in this case. I don't know that anybody needs to emulate Morano's approach.

Morano brags:
“The goal is to expand on key elements from the award-winning Senate EPW website and quite simply revolutionize climate and environmental news dissemination. ... Much of what the media reports is simply a regurgitation of the rhetoric from partisan and ideologically driven environmental groups, foundations, and the United Nations, which are spinning data to promote a cause,” Morano said.
Hmm... Well I have my own complaints about the press, I suppose.

I am not so confident, though, that if the two links about Hannah Montana, not to mention an incorrect headline from a small article from Tweeds Head NSW are exemplary, that the site will turn the tide toward more accurate information. Morano is taking his nomination as chief denier literally, but I wonder if he isn't jumping the shark already in the early episodes. Is this effort worth losing sleep over? Will this sort of schoolyard mockery actually influence anyone who is old enough to vote?

6 comments:

thingsbreak said...

Is this effort worth losing sleep over?

No. This is Expelled II: Climate Bugaloo with Morano reprising Stein's role.

Mooney and Olsen seem hellbent on inflating the stature of these jokers (were you aware, for instance, that Morano is a "a powerful and skilled communicator" who "has arrived in terms of his mission to establish himself as a lead spokesman in their efforts to thwart global warming action."?)

If you didn't follow the Expelled nonsense I wouldn't recommend trying to read back over it now, but I think the dynamics are the same and I predict the results will be as well. After much huffing and puffing and whinging about scientists (or pro-science third parties) needing to be more like Stein, Morano, et al. the whole thing will vanish from general public consciousness in a few months if it ever registered in the first place.

The real threats to science are not the Moranos and Steins of the world, nor their websites and movies. They are entrenched ideologies with broad representation in political and commercial circles that effectively seek to resist changes to the status quo.

Morano is a symptom. It may be useful to provide pushback against him and his kind, but the focus should be attacking the underlying systemic illness.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

"it takes the interesting approach of trying to be the Drudge site of the global environment."

Oh great, just yet another mindless link propagation shop. And the 'original' story in big blaring headlines is... this?

So that's how Marc "I was a Swift Boat smearer and I'm proud of it!" Morano is going to "Redefine Global Warming Reporting".

I agree with thingsbreak. With the Moranos of the world, it's same old, same old: make lots of noise, and when noise doesn't work, make even more noise.

-- bi

Bill said...

Check out CAIVP for a nonpartisan view of environmental news! http://www.caivp.org

Steve Bloom said...

As is the case with Drudge, the Morano effort looks to be an attempt to centralize messaging on climate issues. Examining its obvious lack of appeal to a general audience misses the point, and of course Olson and Mooney are off-base in believing it might have such an appeal.

FYI Bill's linkspam is to a site sponsored by a committee co-chaired by Steve Peace, whose name is yet cursed in California for his nonpartisn selling out of the state to Enron and friends. We'll still paying for that one.

bi -- International Journal of Inactivism said...

Steve Bloom:

"As is the case with Drudge, the Morano effort looks to be an attempt to centralize messaging on climate issues."

I don't know. There are so many Centralized Messaging Centres for climate inactivist spam that I'm having trouble figuring out why Morano needs to create yet another one. Maybe I missed something.

-- bi

Steve Bloom said...

Michael: "But what sort of a story is this: child star earnest and inarticulate on environmental issues! So?" Try listening to wingnut AM radio a little. Such "light" material is an essential part of their mix. Consider how well it feeds into the "they want to brainwash our children" meme.

BTW, as of this moment you're not just linked, you're *headlined*.

Frank, there isn't another public source where wingnuts can go get continually updated climate talking points. That function isn't served by existing sources like the Fox News morning memo, the think-tanks, WTF and ICECAP.