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Sick of the Spill? Trib's Editorial Pages on BP Disaster

By JoshMogerman in News on Jun 20, 2010 7:00PM

2010_06_13_bp.jpg Perhaps it is an understandable focus on the World cup (and the ref from Mali who robbed the U.S. squad) that has otherwise focused the Trib’s ed board, but it has been a weird week in their on-again, off-again engagement with the oil disaster in the Gulf. As the country’s outrage over the BP spill seemed to be flowing stronger than the massive underwater plumes of oil, there has been a strange stream of oddly complacent pieces on the paper’s Opinion pages.

Dennis Byrne’s “BP Bashing is Getting a Little Out of Control” column took issue with the impact that protests and public anger has had on BP’s stock prices. The piece was immediately beset by angry commenters, forcing Byrne to retreat to his ChicagoNow blog where he expressed his shock at the angry response. He does make some salient points about the angry reactions but is entirely too dismissive to the approach of some "new media" outlets in their coverage (some of the best reporting, including some of the first accusations of media access being blocked, has come from coverage on Mother Jones' blog).

The editorial board had a tepid response to the President’s speech noting that public anger should not dictate national energy policy because “we need oil.” Following the same line, the Trib also posted a Jonah Goldberg column positing that “Oil is the future’s real green fuel.”

Today, Clarence Page seems to be the only columnist who has taken umbrage with Rep. Joe Barton’s apology for the government “shakedown” of BP, but consider an infographic featured on the Home page of the paper’s site about the greenest gasoline companies and you’ve got a pretty wacky take on what could be the nation’s biggest environmental disaster. We're pretty big fans of the strong reporting from watchdog reporters like Michael Hawthorne and Jim Tankersley, but this response to the spill does leave us wondering about a disconnect between the opinion editors and readers who seem concerned about the disaster, even as it's unfolding a thousand miles away.