Our mission is to persuade as well as inform, in courts, in public policy forums, and, yes, in the marvelous new media that is the Internet.  To that end, we have one sacrosanct principle:  our advocacy is only as effective as our accuracy.

Who You Gonna Trust:  CFIF or the Washington Post?

On September 20, the Washington Post published “Alaska Natives Offer a Herd of Reasons to Block Oil Drilling” by Vanessa de la Torre.  The Style Section piece focused on the Washington, D.C. advocacy efforts of Sarah James and her Alaskan Gwich’in tribe’s opposition to oil exploration in ANWR, based on unsubstantiated threats to the future of the Porcupine Caribou herd.

Not one word of the Washington Post article presented any skepticism regarding the Gwich’in propaganda.  Ms. James was thus enabled in reaching a large and unsuspecting audience with the same virtually unchallenged spiel she’s spouted for years.  The support for drilling by Alaska’s two U.S. senators was reported as a joke, and Ms. de la Torre and her editors saw no reason to investigate the bona fides of that support.

By happenstance, on the very same day, HumanEvents.com published an op-ed by this writer, derived from a previously published research paper, which raises serious issues regarding Ms. James’ “truth” about ANWR.

Unlike Ms. de la Torre, this writer has never interviewed Sarah James, who simply rattles the same mantra over and over and over.  Instead, he reviewed hundreds of pages of research, documents, maps, Alaskan and ANWR history, detailed sources seemingly beyond the reach and/or interest of liberal journalists, not one of whom has ever, in print or on air, published anything beyond he said/she said sound bites on the issue.  The CFIF research was time-consuming and tedious, but not rocket science.  Any journeyman journalist could have done it, but none have, which is why we did.

The Gwich’in story, as it is propounded by environmental groups, now publicized by the Washington Post, is just a middling scandal of deceptive advocacy, compared to others that have captured national attention.  The stakes, however, revolving as they do around this country’s energy needs, and the forces aligned against fulfilling them, are much higher, if not as sexy, than what George Bush and John Kerry did or did not do during their long ago military service.

Ms. de la Torre is no Dan Rather.  She’s just getting started in journalism.  But that’s why newspapers have editors, wizened rudder men and women whose job is to keep journalistic ships straight through the channels and off the shoals.  It’s when editors go astray that newspapers lose credibility.

On September 22, CFIF provided the ombudsman of the Washington Post with several documents sufficient to ring some bells regarding the Gwich’in story.  We’ll report what he says and does, if anything.

In the meantime, keep in mind as you read any posting by CFIF that we are advocates.  Some of us have journalistic training, and we still love the smell of ink, but our mission is to persuade as well as inform, in courts, in public policy forums, and, yes, in the marvelous new media that is the Internet.  To that end, we have one sacrosanct principle:  our advocacy is only as effective as our accuracy.


September 22, 2005
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