Sep 14 2012

Post Ombud Agrees with FAIR on Big Oil Sponsorship

Energy 'debate' needed diversity and disclosure

The Washington Post has responded to FAIR’s September 14 Action Alert, which criticized the paper for presenting a two-page energy “debate” that didn’t include critics of the industry–and didn’t disclose to readers that the discussion was sponsored by Big Oil.

In his most recent column, Post ombud Patrick Pexton (9/21/12) largely agreed with FAIR’s take, acknowledging that the panel discussions (which the Post used as the basis for the print feature) should have included more diverse views and that the sponsorship of the American Petroleum Institute (API) should have been disclosed to Post readers.

The Post‘s Mary Jordan, who was responsible for the energy events, told Pexton that the American Petroleum Institute had no editorial input. But if it was the Post‘s decision to sideline industry critics and hide API’s sponsorship role, does that make it any better? Given the results, both in the paper and in the events themselves, it would appear that the oil lobbying group didn’t need to exert any direct influence.

Pexton reported that FAIR “got its many followers to shower me with e-mails objecting to the way the Posthandled the events and published excerpts.” We thank you for speaking up.