Thursday, February 14, 2008

Your Tax Dollars At Work: When Blogs Go Bad

Last July, U.S. EPA Deputy Administrator Marcus Peacock started a page—he called it a blog, though users couldn’t initially post comments—to talk about management. Most of Peacock’s posts have been harmless, but his January 29 posting about troubled singer Amy Winehouse was strange, if not inappropriate. (Too-good-to-be-true lines include, “What if we had [Amy Winehouse’s] talent without the drugs?” and “Janis Joplin without heroin would have just been another singer.”)

Peacock’s, er, enthusiasm did not go unnoticed. Washington Post political columnist Al Kamen dissected Peacock’s musing on February 1, making sure to zing agency administrator Stephen L. Johnson’s denial of 14 states’ auto mileage petition in the process. (Kamen wrote: “Johnson might explain the decision-making rationale by simply paraphrasing Winehouse's hit song about people trying to force her into rehab: ‘They tried to make me grant a waiver, I said no, no, no.’“)

Three days later, Peacock issued an apology of sorts on his blog, which, fueled by Kamen’s piece, has received close to 600 user comments. (Most of his other posts get less than 10.) Blogs are definitely a great way for government agencies to connect with the public in new, informal settings, but Peacock’s shows the need for a post-with-care policy.

Meanwhile, this isn't exactly new news, but we're a new blog, and this seemed an appropriate place to mention another "blog" that you're paying for:

Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK), who infamously called global warming “the greatest hoax ever perpetrated on the American people,” is the most vocal climate change naysayer in the federal government. So it should come as no surprise that a former Inhofe staffer is tirelessly promoting Inhofe’s skeptical rhetoric and attacking politicians and scientists who have shown that climate change is a real threat. What might surprise you is that he’s using American tax dollars to do it.

Marc Morano, the communications director on Senate Environment and Public Works Committee’s minority (Republican) staff, of which Inhofe is the ranking member, maintains an anti-climate change page on the committee’s website. (He calls it a blog, but users can’t post comments.) Morano, a longtime conservative journalist who helped break the Swift Boat campaign smearing Sen. John Kerry (D-MA) during the 2004 presidential race, also unabashedly promotes his flat earth rhetoric on The New York Times’ DotEarth climate blog. (Examples here and here in the comments.)

Original here

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