The Arrogance of "Nonpartisan" Greens
by L. Brent Bozell III
December 23, 1997
A most annoying form of arrogance erupts in the way liberals
formulate their positions as representative of the public interest, making
those who disagree simply reflect evil. They form groups with names like
"The Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids." What are we going to do? Start
the Campaign for Getting Kids Puffing by First Grade?
This moral exhibitionism hits a fever pitch when the subject
is environmentalism. Liberals know it's politically risky, if not fatal, to
enter the debate declaring their power-grabbing desires: "Everyone will
please leave their cars behind and live in houses made of old tires."
Instead, they come as the Defenders of Clean Air for Children and Bunnies and
suggest that only those self-interested cads who value profits over humanity
are playing politics.
Yet the "environmentalist" agenda is political to
the core. Regulation and bureaucracy reign at the center of their proposals,
and unfettered socialism is their ideological mission. At the recent climate
conference in Kyoto, Japan, environmental groups proposed the U.S. cut its
emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels, representing a drastic,
government-supervised - that is, U.N.- supervised - suppression of
American energy output. Whether it's broad-based energy taxes to combat global
warming or the overruling of property rights to protect "wetlands"
or "endangered species," free enterprise is the enemy and government
is the answer.
It's expected for liberals, with their intellectually
bankrupt arguments, to strike nonpartisan poses. It's far more intellectually
dishonest when the liberal media promote the same "objective" line.
In an urgent, very ideological battle over taxation and regulation, the media
are caricaturing it as Green vs. Mean. Forget the appropriate term,
"radical." When was the last time you saw environmental groups
classified in news stories simply as "liberal"?
News reporters are making it a practice to drain the
ideology out of one-half of the environmental debate, casting it as
"environmentalists" vs. industry (or better yet, "corporate
interests"). Look at every news story in three major newspapers (The New
York Times, USA Today, The Washington Post) throughout 1995 and 1996 that
dealt with ten top left-wing environmental groups. Out of 1,089 news stories
mentioning these organizations, how many would you guess called them
"liberal"? Try...five. Yes, a grand total of five
"liberal" labels in almost 1100 stories.
It doesn't matter how outrageously ideological the group is.
Greenpeace is perhaps the best-known environmental group for its radical
tactics, like interrupting nuclear tests and hanging banners from smokestacks.
But you'll not see that militant approach come through in newspaper stories.
In 178 articles, it never once attracted a liberal label. Not once.
The nonpartisan approach is most inaccurate with the League
of Conservation Voters, which spent $1.5 million on ads, mass mailings, and
door-to-door campaigns trying to defeat GOP candidates. That activism earned
this group one label in 62 stories. This (mis)labeling chicanery has another
effect. By placing LCV in the "nonpartisan" political center, any
opposition to its leftist agenda becomes extremist by definition. Thus, the
April 22, 1995 Washington Post noted "On a scorecard compiled by the [LCV]
to measure the environmental sensitivity displayed by House members during the
first 100 days of the 104th Congress, 61 incoming GOP freshmen scored
The Sierra Club spent $7.5 million in 1996 to defeat
Republican candidates through an independent-expenditure campaign, including
ads calling Republicans "eco-thugs." But they were tagged as liberal
only three times in 325 stories. The Natural Resources Defense Council only
attracted one liberal label in 211 stories, despite running ads claiming
Republicans aspired to "block programs to protect our drinking water from
deadly parasites, arsenic, and radioactivity."
By contrast, the largest "free-market
environmentalist" think tank, the Competitive Enterprise Institute drew
eight "conservative" labels in 29 stories (28 percent). And if they
weren't labeled "conservative," they were described as
"anti-regulatory," "pro-business," "favoring limited
government," or "promoting private solutions over government
action." Those are all accurate. So why aren't their liberal adversaries
ever described as the reverse: "pro-regulatory,"
"anti-business," "opposing limited government," or
"promoting government action over private solutions"?
Go the furthest extreme on the left. The militant group
Earth First! has advocated the practice of spiking trees to cause serious, if
not fatal, harm to loggers, and its literature reportedly inspired the
Unabomber's selection of bombing targets. That extremism earned it nine
"radical" labels in 25 stories (36 percent). For the reporters
filing the other 64 percent of those stories which found nothing radical about
Earth First!, their agenda falls within the limits of proper political
Remember that the next time you read a story about
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