‘Washington Post’ Op-Ed Editor Defends Running Palin Column

By: Joe Strupp

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.

Brewington said Palin was not paid for the piece, but said it was available on the Los Angeles Times-Washington Post News Service. She had no information on how man other papers had used the column.



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