Tuesday, July 03, 2012

Ken Cuccinelli, in context

WaPo columnist Robert McCartney had a great column the other day: "For Ken Cuccinelli, losing big cases won’t work forever." It was so refreshing to see someone say, hey, this VA AG dude, he's a joke.

It was a better debunking than I could do of the Post magazine's Aug 2010 fluff piece on Cuccinelli, by David Montgomery. That piece had presented something of the opposite thesis: Cucinelli's the real deal!

It's so fitting that one of the cases Cuccinelli just lost recently, as noted by McCartney, was one trying to undermine climate science.

The WaPo magainze had mentioned that territory, but only in an oddly positive way. We had learned from the magazine only that in Cuccinelli's crusade against climate scientist Michael Mann, he "demanded that U-Va. hand over documents connected to a former professor's work on climate change, to determine whether the professor used false information to obtain taxpayer-funded research grants." And: "Two weeks hence, he would demand the climate change professor's records from U-Va."

Those basic facts were all correct -- and they make the whole exercise sound rather reasonable. Yet what Montgomery never told readers were some other basics: Michael Mann has already been cleared of wrongdoing in inquiry after inquiry. Cuccinelli had been caught quoting Mann out of context, and in one place even quoted a different scientist but attributed it to Mann. And more than 800 scientists and academic leaders in VA responded to Cuccinelli, calling on him to end his "unwarranted" investigation.

Two years later, McCartney's piece on Cuccinelli is a neat antidote to the Montgomery nonsense. Fluff pieces don't usually fare well, and this one is no exception.


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