Dear New York Times,

Writing an article like this, making empirical claims with almost entirely anecdotal evidence, and a single study, that doesn’t address the question you are raising (or assert the answer you are very much suggesting) — which you have utterly failed to explain in any way that enables your readers to make informed decisions about the value of said study– is pretty much the definition of journalistic irresponsibility.

And, yes, I know– you do this because, like almost all of those publications or broadcasts which have been brow-beaten by years of frivolous and incorrect “liberal media” assertions  by  conservatives, you bend over backwards to demonstrate that you are not, in fact, liberal, and in doing so become operationally conservative. (Call it the Judith Miller effect.) No excuse. You don’t run an article that you know will be interpreted to mean “CFLs don’t work!” absent any notion of what percentage of these bulbs don’t work, or even any meaningful framework for how you would find such a thing out.

You see, most people are stupid, and don’t have any clue how to evaluate data. And though you carefully couch what you’re saying in the typical weaselly “could it be the case” style that is so favored  by reporters who are more interested in running salacious copy than getting at the truth, it is a certainty that this story will get linked to and passed around and held up to say “Look! The New York Times says them new lightbulbs don’t work!” And you know that’s the case, even though you equally know there’s nothing resembling the evidence necessary in the story to suggest that kind of a claim.

But hey, this is the enviroment we’re talking about! You know, one of those issues where the backlash is always bigger than the movement itself, and the supposed sanctimony of the people who care about the issue is dwarfed by the sanctimony of the people complaining about the former. The only people more self-righteous and aggrieved than our stereotype of an environmentalist, after all, is the guy bitching and moaning about self-righteous environmentalists.  So where’s the harm to you, NYT? Score some points with Hannity. Tweak the greens. Bet it felt great.

You’re a joke,

Freddie deBoer

ps Say hi to Tom Friedman’s moustache for me.

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2 thoughts on “Dear New York Times,

  1. Here, here. I'm really dumbfounded by the conservative animus against CFLs (which should be differentiated from the federal-mandate to use them). As best I can tell, it's just venting against Stuff Liberal People Like.

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  2. CFLs aren't new. I've bought scores of them in this decade, with a much higher percentage burning out in a few weeks than with Edison bulbs. They certainly don't work as well as they ought to, but that's largely been covered up by the press until recently because CFLs are SWPL.

    My guess is that chains just buy the cheapest Chinese non-brand CFLs they can buy, so we don't get the kind of quality we could be getting.

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