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WaPo and the Cuccinelli Derangement Syndrome


If you’re ever looking for an exhibit to illustrate the establishment media’s inability to view issues other than through their desired prism, look no further than last Wednesday’s Washington Post editorial page. The lead edit was a shrill tantrum about Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli amending his Civil Investigative Demand for University of Virginia records involving applications and payments for taxpayer-funded grant money, in accordance with a recent judge’s ruling (which Cuccinelli is in the meantime appealing; having read the briefs and observed argument, I think this is easily the right call).


The editorial complaints are rather strange. These are that a) Cuccinelli is using old arguments in re-filing his request for documents — though such consistency of legal theory, tailored to reflect the judge’s ruling, would make sense in this context and surely WaPo would also flip out if the AG changed his arguments; and b) that Cuccinelli is actually looking into possible fraud against the taxpayer in this action under the Virginia anti-fraud statute, and not trying to put climate science on trial! See prior reply as to WaPo‘s reaction if the opposite were true.

It is unfair of me to apply standards of rational thought to the clearly emotional WaPo, but this is really taking its bias to absurd depths. And beneath the edit — I speak literally, as it would be very difficult to actually go lower than the editorial — is a cartoon portraying Cuccinelli is the judge screaming at Galileo that he wants his emails.

Speaking of cartoonish parodies… Tom Toles crossed into Barky Moonbat-land long ago with his hysterical embrace of the AGW cause. But those even remotely familiar with the issue — vs. talking points, ruling out the Washington Post staff — know that Galileo was the skeptic of doctrinaire anthropocentric dogma that didn’t survive scrutiny all too well (sound familiar?). The church was, well, the global warming establishment who couldn’t stand their theories to be subjected to scrutiny, let alone challenge, while also offering indulgences for the wealthy to buy their way out of that which was preached. I do sense a pattern emerging.

But such revealing curiosities aside, the editorial keening about Cuccinelli’s wretched consistency simply elides the University of Virginia’s inconsistency. UVA justified its fight against the Attorney General’s request for records on the grounds of “academic freedom”. For example:

Ann Hamric, a nursing professor and chairwoman of UVa’s Faculty Senate, praised UVa’s decision to hire counsel as it deals with Cuccinelli’s demand.

“The Senate has grave concerns about the AG’s actions and the message it sends about academic freedom,” she said. “I’m pleased to see that the university is taking this seriously and is moving forward.”

University President John Casteen issued a statement supporting the decision, because he “heard the ‘concerns and apprehensions'”.

So, what is UVA hearing to justify its stonewall, now?

You see, WaPo would have done its readers a favor — after sniveling that Cuccinelli did not pay homage to a Penn State whitewash claiming Michael “ClimateGate”/”Hockey Stick” Mann has gotten a lot of grant money and, as such, whatever he’s done must be alright — by paying a little tribute of its own to the fact that the judge actually tossed the “academic freedom” argument as having no legal grounding. And UVA — despite leaning heavily in its brief on this trope that academics must be above the law, mind you — has already and without hesitation acknowledged as much when asked at argument.

This decision to leap to the defense of “academic freedom”, incidentally, has according to the University cost them over $350,000 over four and a half months of legal work. That means paying outside lawyers $3,500 each working day since making its decision to fight a law enforcement officer’s pre-investigation into possible fraud.

WaPo does bemoan this, too. But, you see, it’s all Cuccinelli’s fault. Not a University continuing to fight disclosure after its claimed reason for engaging in this expenditure is no longer operative. Can we now officially diagnose Cuccinelli Derangement Syndrome?

By the way, that’s $435 per hour for a full day’s work by one lawyer, each day, every day, holidays included (I have FOIA’d the records supporting that fantastic figure, of course). Just curious, O’ Big Green and Big Media obsessed with funding, but are you awaiting answers to the question where did what the University calls “private funding” to pick up this tab come from? I suppose another FOIA is in order. Someone has to do the job of an impartial media…

So, in sum, the judge tossed the silly argument invoked to explain UVA’s refusal to let the taxpayer know if there is indeed the fire of fraud behind all of that smoke, post ClimateGate and other revelations. And the University admits it was not an argument at all. Maybe now the University of Virginia might tell us what their stonewall is really all about. And maybe the Washington Post, if it ever catches its breath over someone other than them daring to decide that such things deserve inquiry, might ask.

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