It’s not a good day to be holding down an environment desk at a major newspaper. But the Washington Post isn’t moving around its eco-beat reporter for the usual reasons.
While Obama nominated Ernest Moniz as his new Energy Secretary, hedge fund billionaire Thomas Steyer wanted the job. Steyer had resigned from his capital management firm to focus on alternative energy advocacy and was being set up for Chu’s old job. And Steyer had an ace in the hole. He was a donor to the Center for American Progress whose people have filled up top administration positions. CAP boss Podesta even proposed Steyer for the job.
John Podesta, who chairs the liberal think tank Center for American Progress, said Steyer has “got the right skill set, the understanding and attitude to lead an energy transformation in this country.”
“I think he would be a fabulous choice for energy secretary,” Podesta added, “and I’ve let my friends in the administration know that.”
As part of the big push, Steyer got a fawning profile in the Washington Post’s Style section where Podesta was quoted. The piece was penned by Juliet Eilperin, the Washington Post’s eco-reporter, whose husband just happened to be “a senior fellow on climate/energy issues at the Center for American Progress.”
JunkScience is claiming credit for Juliet Eilperin’s departure from the Washington Post’s environment desk and her transition to a more appropriate role covering the White House where her kind of conflict of interest is entirely par for the course.
The moral of the story is that the Center for American Progress and its billionaire backers don’t always get everything they want, but there is no meaningful penalty for conflict of interest puff pieces about those billionaire backers by the spouses of their fellows at the Washington Post.