Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers was smeared in what reads like a hit piece by partisan Politico reporter Zack Colman. He doesn’t appear to hide his bias. A screenshot of an email purportedly shows the reporter mocking a trio of Republicans in a personal note he sent promoting his feature.
Citing the weekend heatwave in the Pacific Northwest as further proof of climate change, Colman criticized three area-Republicans for not caring about the environment as much as they claim. He argued they were “silent” during the heatwave. This is verifiably false.
McMorris Rodgers (R-Spokane) directly addressed the topic at a committee hearing the morning of his article. In fact, Colman even references the hearing in his piece — but chooses to leave out the congresswoman’s comments on the heatwave.
The piece even went through one stealth edit, adding context to a quote that originally misled the readers. The whole article reads as if it was written before Colman even spoke with the congresswoman’s office.
Transparent smear, shoddy hit piece
In the Politico piece, originally titled, “A record heat wave is baking the Northwest. The region’s Republicans aren’t sweating it,” Colman scolds a trio of PNW Republicans: Washington Reps. McMorris Rodgers and Dan Newhouse, and Oregon Rep. Cliff Bentz.
The three members of Congress recently joined the Conservative Climate Caucus. To Colman, they didn’t take the opportunity of a record heatwave to “fully recognize the threat” of climate change.
“Much like past GOP responses to hurricanes, floods and other climate-linked calamities, the Northwest Republicans’ lack of responses to the heatwave raise questions about whether even deadly consequences in their home districts can dislodge Republican lawmakers from their usual stances and talking points on global warming,” Colman wrote.
Newhouse is rightly upset with the piece and offered a Twitter thread pushing back at the idea that he doesn’t value the environment. But Colman took aim at McMorris Rodgers in particular because she has committed the cardinal sin of criticizing President Joe Biden’s embrace of the expensive and impractical.
“[T]hey went silent as a devastating heatwave hit the region,” Colman claims of the Republicans.
But McMorris Rodgers directly discussed the heatwave. Colman should know: He quoted her from the subcommittee hearing where she commented on the issue.
McMorris Rodgers was so silent that she … gave a speech on the heatwave?
McMorris Rodgers sure talks a lot about heatwaves for someone who “went silent” on the topic.
On Tuesday morning, June 29, McMorris Rodgers delivered opening remarks during a meeting of the Subcommittee on Energy of the Committee on Energy and Commerce.
The congresswoman directly tied the need for clean energy to tackle rising temperatures facing her district and the country. She warned against “state and federal policies that jeopardize affordable, reliable energy and power.” She noted that “keeping the lights on is needed for a prosperous society, and it’s key to lifting people out of poverty and improving our quality of life.”
“And it’s not just about keeping the lights on,” she continued. “Right now in Eastern Washington and across the Pacific Northwest, it’s about keeping the fans and air conditioning on, too. We’re currently experiencing an extreme heatwave. There are emergency cooling centers open in my hometown in Spokane, where temperatures are hovering around 110 [degrees]. Last night, one of the major utilities in the area notified customers of mandatory outages because it was seeing the second-highest level of demand over the past year. We aren’t strangers to extreme weather in the Pacific Northwest. These weather events have solidified the importance of reliable power.”
She didn’t stop at her district. She mentioned the same climate issues in Texas, California, and across New England.
Colman quotes McMorris Rodgers from this very committee hearing in his article. But he chooses to ignore her entire opening remarks mentioning the heatwave.
Bragging about the smear?
Colman allegedly bragged about his piece to an unidentified group of people in an email. The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH acquired an email from a source. It shows an email purportedly from Colman. It was sent from a personal Gmail account to a group of people who were apparently BCC’ed.
The email shows Colman reportedly telling recipients that he was “strolling by to brighten your inbox” with his story. He said he reached out to the three Republicans to gauge their thoughts on the heatwave, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, and their climate priorities. Colman explained that he “mostly got crickets,” except from McMorris Rodgers.
The email shows Colman again criticizing the congresswoman, seemingly annoyed because her office expressed positions she’d held since before joining the climate caucus. He seems not to think her positions would do much to combat climate change.
He writes “*BREATHE*” as if to mock the congresswoman for holding positions he finds to be foolish.
“OK, so, if I were to create a caucus, it would be the Caucus to End Caucuses. Sometimes, caucuses can seem like pieces of flair, but for Congress. But these members joined the Conservative Climate Caucus, so I had hoped they’d have something interesting to say about the nexus of climate change and the heatwave that’s probably literally going to kill some of their constituents,” the email reads. “It didn’t happen.”
That’s also not true. McMorris Rodgers’ office gave a lengthy statement to Colman.
Out of context quote
In the original story, Colman uses four words from a lengthy statement McMorris Rodgers’ spokesperson sent to him for the story. He used it to imply that McMorris Rodgers has few plans to address climate change.
McMorris-Rodgers’ spokesperson for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Jack Heretik, said she supported energy sources like hydropower, nuclear power and natural gas and leaned on Republican calls to ’embrace and unleash innovation’ in a wide range of energy solutions.
Four hours after its publication, Colman bulked up the paragraph and included more of the statement provided to him.
McMorris Rodgers’ spokesperson for the Energy and Commerce Committee, Jack Heretik, said in a statement in response to a query that ‘she believes that in order to address climate change risks, America must embrace and unleash innovation in a wide range of energy solutions, including emission-free and low-emission energy like hydropower, nuclear and natural gas.’
Still, Colman framed it as insufficient to address climate change. Yet the statement provided to him goes into greater detail. It explains why McMorris Rodgers opposes the far-left Green New Deal.
McMorris Rodgers is a champion of environmental issues
The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH reached out to McMorris Rodgers’ office. I asked if they could provide any statement or quote they offered to Colman. They obliged.
Leader Rodgers doesn’t support radical Green New Deal provisions in infrastructure — especially ones that increase our dependence on Chinese supply chains, strain our power grid, and hurt energy reliability. She believes that in order to address climate change risks, America must embrace and unleash innovation in a wide range of energy solutions, including emission-free and low-emission energy like hydropower, nuclear and natural gas. We need an all-the-above approach to keep energy costs low and protect reliability, especially when there is a potential for devastating blackouts and increased demand on our power grid.
McMorris Rodgers is a champion on environmental issues. However, I understand why left-wing activists (including those who masquerade as journalists) might not like her. She isn’t willing to tank the economy to pursue fringe policy proposals from socialists more interested in dismantling capitalism than helping the environment.
‘Performative and partisan activism’
It’s certainly legitimate to criticize the congresswoman’s policy suggestions.
But to pretend the congresswoman was silent on the heatwave? It’s as bad faith as pretending she doesn’t care about the environment. She was a key backer of the American Climate Contract. It demands the United States pursues global net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.
Do left-wing journalists think shaming important conservative leaders on environmental issues is a worthwhile effort? Shaming conservatives won’t get them to embrace extremist, destructive ideas from the Green New Deal. Conservatives care about the environment. However, we don’t want to destroy our economy with ideologically-driven policies that do little more than destroy jobs. It’s why I’m an Evergreen Advisor to the American Conservation Coalition (ACC).
The president of the ACC had some choice words for Colman, too.
“Journalism should be focused on the facts — and the facts show that Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers has been at the forefront of pragmatic climate action,” ACC founder and president Benjamin Backer tells the Jason Rantz Show on KTTH. “Whether it’s been supporting clean energy or innovative natural solutions like cross-laminated timber, the Congresswoman has been one of the most productive members of Congress in tackling climate change. If we want to make sure heat waves don’t continue to worsen due to climate change, we need more national leaders like Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers at the helm of the conversation and less performative and partisan activism.”
If Colman wants McMorris Rodgers to vote with Democrats on policy more often, he should focus on the far-left drift of the Democrat party. Or, perhaps, his goal isn’t to win conservatives over. Maybe it’s just to exploit the environmental issues for hit pieces that get him more clicks from eco-extremists?
I’d love to ask Colman, but he did not respond to five requests for comment.
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