Scott Pruitt

Hey big spender: NPR highlights another side of embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt

Hey big spender: NPR highlights another side of embattled EPA administrator Scott Pruitt

Scott Pruitt — the former attorney general in my home state of Oklahoma — has been making a lot of national headlines lately.

Not-so-positive headlines, I might add.

A week ago Sunday, the New York Times featured Pruitt — now the administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency — in a front-page investigative piece. The headline: "Scott Pruitt Before the E.P.A.: Fancy Homes, a Shell Company and Friends With Money."

Religion did not figure in that story. Nor, let's be honest, did the fascinating details revealed by the Times portray Pruitt as a choir boy.

(Just this afternoon, I got an emailed news alert from the Washington Post with this headline: "Lobbyist helped broker Scott Pruitt’s $100,000 trip to Morocco.")

But now comes NPR with a new, in-depth report with quite a different headline: "'On Fire For God's Work': How Scott Pruitt's Faith Drives His Politics."

NPR notes:

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Donald Trump's cabinet: Are his choices merely a list of evangelical deplorables?

Donald Trump's cabinet: Are his choices merely a list of evangelical deplorables?

OK. I get that for lots of people, Donald Trump’s cabinet picks seem like a freak show line-up.

But can we at least try to maintain a little bit of journalistic objectivity when we describe these folks? Yes, this is a debate that's raging all over the place right now. Just ask New York Times executive editor Dean Baquet. And remember the Fixer-Upper couple bouhaha that BuzzFeed tried to ignite two weeks ago (which I wrote about) that blamed the two home remodelers for the views of their pastor? 

Lots of folks condemned that sort of damned-by-association style of journalism. In this latest wrap-up of Trump’s cabinet, I see it again in this RNS story.

(RNS) An education secretary who supports school vouchers to get more children into private religious schools. A White House strategist whose ex-wife accused him of anti-Semitism. A national security adviser who called Islam “a political ideology hiding behind a religion.”
After a campaign in which President-elect Donald Trump was accused of trafficking in bigotry and hatred, and of changing his views to win the conservative religious vote, he is choosing Cabinet members who have made controversial statements on religious and ethical issues.

I get the second half of the sentence, but was the first part (on “bigotry and hatred”) necessary? Yes, it is a statement of fact about attacks by Trump critics on the left and right, but still. The article then goes on to list several cabinet nominees:

Pruitt is a member of First Baptist Church of Broken Arrow, Okla., where he has served as a deacon. First Baptist is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention, which has opposed marriage equality, reproductive rights for women and LGBTQ rights, including bathroom access for transgender people.

My goodness, are these people villains or what? The Southern Baptists also took a strong stand against racism, for refugees and repudiated the Confederate flag at their June meeting. I guess that wasn’t good enough.

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