Eugene Robinson's attempted takedown of Sarah Palin was so bad that Sarah Palin (or her assistant) was able to demolish it in a letter to the Post. Was she right about climate change? Probably not. No matter. The Post published her anyway. Why? Via the Howler, Editor and Publisher gives us a little insight:
NEW YORK It took editors at The Washington Post less than a day to greenlight Sarah Palin's climate change Op-Ed piece, according to Op-Ed Editor Autumn Brewington.
She said the newspaper received an e-mail from Palin Tuesday asking to write about the issue and it decided it should run Wednesday, before President Barack Obama was to head to the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen.
"If we were going to use it, we had to use it immediately," Brewington said. "It was a quicker turnaround than is often the case. But we made the decision based on news."
The Palin piece questioned the ongoing climate change view of global warming, stating: "while we recognize the occurrence of these natural, cyclical environmental trends, we can't say with assurance that man's activities cause weather changes." It brought a string of criticism in other publications and Web sites, ranging from The Atlantic to Scienceblogs.com.
Brewington did not regret giving Palin space, noting, "She is someone who stirs discussion and we are in the business of putting out opinion. She reached out to us."
She said the e-mail actually arrived Monday night, but editors did not see it until Tuesday. Brewington said no other Op-Eds had to be bumped for the piece to appear Wednesday, adding that columnist Ruth Marcus is off this week, freeing up more space.
Palin's piece drew interest for its criticism of climate change proponents, citing a scandal in Britain in which some "climate experts" were accused of falsifying data.
Brewington said the piece drew more reaction than most Op-Eds, adding that it ranked among the 10 most-read articles on the Post Web site Wednesday. "We are getting a lot of feedback. I have heard from a few more people today than I normally would have," she said. "Some people I think were glad that Palin had a voice in the Post, some were critical of her writing about climate change."
Among the critics was a university professor who has offered to write a rebuttal column, Brewington said, declining to name the person. "It is always interesting to see who reaches out to us," she said.
So Palin, someone without any knowledge or expertise or even credible opinion on the subject of climate change has her opinion rushed into print in one day because she "stirs discussion" and generates hits on the web page. Some university professor's rebuttal–one can only imagine how many offered–not so much. This is our discourse.
There is no question that Palin has an opinion (though I am never sure what it is). The question is whether her opinion is one that belongs in this debate. My opinion of the Detroit Lions does not belong in a debate about this year's playoffs–they're not going. But by the Post's reasoning, publishing a piece about how they should be going or how they are going would "stir discussion."