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Nuclear Spin from a Former Bushwoman

dfarsettas Icon Posted by Diane Farsetta

August 27th, 2007

As is often the case with women and media issues, fellow WIMN’s Voices blogger Laura Flanders first noticed the trend. In her 2004 book “Bushwomen: Tales of a Cynical Species,” Flanders wrote of former EPA administrator and New Jersey governor Christine Todd Whitman:

Call her the Mighty Mouse of the GOP. When the party’s in an awkward spot, it’s Whitman they call to save the day. … What she is, in fact, is an attractive shill, a lure for liberals and moderates.

Since leaving public office, Whitman has worked as a professional shill for industry. (Presumably, it pays better.)

At the Whitman Strategy Group, a lobbying and PR firm, clients benefit from Whitman’s considerable communications skills, political connections and public image as a moderate environmentalist. Since Whitman’s four partners in the firm (all women) also previously worked at the EPA, it’s not surprising that some of their clients might be delicately described as “environmentally challenged.”

Perhaps Whitman’s most troubling work as a private consultant has been for the nuclear power industry. Why? One reason is that she’s not too forthcoming about being paid to promote nuclear power, as I recently documented:

A Nexis news database search revealed that nearly two-thirds of news items that mentioned Christine Todd Whitman and nuclear power, from April 2006 to August 2007, failed to disclose her financial relationship with the industry. … In some cases, journalists may have been informed about Whitman’s industry consulting but chose not to mention it in their reports. But there are several instances where Whitman herself presumably could have disclosed her Nuclear Energy Institute work, but failed to do so. These include a September 2006 television interview with Whitman, an April 2007 letter to the editor from Whitman to Iowa’s Des Moines Register, and op/eds penned by Whitman that ran in the Boston Globe (May 2006), Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (September 2006), and North Carolina’s Charlotte Observer (June 2007).

Another reason is that Whitman was curiously silent on the benefits of nuclear power, until she started getting paid to spread the nuclear religion:

Even as a member of the unabashedly pro-nuclear Bush administration, Whitman rarely discussed nuclear energy. … While Whitman’s assessments of nuclear power prior to 2006 are rare, they are positive, with the exception of a remark during a November 2004 interview: “Nuclear power isn’t on the table — people don’t even want to talk about it.”

For the whole scoop, please go read my new article, “The Other Half of the Nuclear Industry’s Power Couple: Christine Todd Whitman.” Enjoy!

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