TNR's new blog, Environment and Energy, is "powered by BP." Brad Plumer nazel gazes. Now, does BP dictate our content? No. Would we shy away from criticizing them? No. For one, I'm in favor of a carbon tax or cap-and-trade regime to reduce greenhouse-gas emissions, and BP has been pretty shamefully working behind the scenes in Congress to oppose strong climate legislation. I'm in favor of funding for renewable energy, whereas BP has slashed its investments in renewables while pouring money into dirty energy sources like the tar sands of Canada. And yes, technically, there's nothing to stop those disagreements from being aired on the blog or on our site. But that doesn't mean everything's fine and dandy here, so, by all means, sound off in comments. Sam Boyd doesn't trust it and Ezra sort of defends it. In my perfect world, none of this stuff would happen. But since you guys don't like to pay much for content, magazines have to figure out a way to fund themselves, and that means going to people with more money, and those people want something in return, and soon enough, you're "powered by BP," running a blog that is implicitly arguing to put BP out of business at the same time that it's explicitly greenwashing their corporate image and making it less likely that public anger will actually threaten their business model. I don't buy that at all. Are you honestly telling me that there is no other way TNR could fund one new enviro blog without dipping into oil funds? Sure, it's very tough to fund small publications sustainably, but a little more effort is all we readers ask.
Adam Doster, a contributing editor at In These Times, is a Chicago-based freelance writer and former reporter-blogger for Progress Illinois.