Backing or Backpedaling?

Governor Schwarzenegger took a stand on cutting greenhouse gases yesterday. His stand? Going on the commonly held theory that most readers never get beyond the headline and first paragraph of a newspaper story, unless they have some compelling interest in the story, his stand depends on what city you live in.

The Los Angeles Times story has the headline, Gov. Calls for Curbs on Emissions, and begins:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday threw his political weight behind a drive to curb greenhouse gas emissions but cautioned that the fight to reduce global warming should be done in a “sensible and deliberate way” to protect jobs.

The San Francisco Chronicle, on the other hand, goes with Governor: Go slow in fight on warming

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger called Tuesday for California to become a national leader in combatting global warming but cautioned that the state should move slowly in imposing controls on industries that emit greenhouse gases, a step environmentalists argue is a priority.

And crossing the bay, one finds in the Oakland Tribune, Governor backpedals on emissions

After pushing the nation's most aggressive goals for cutting greenhouse gases, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger on Tuesday disappointed many environmentalists by backing a go-slow approach, making industry report its greenhouse emissions but not capping those emissions until 2010.

As different as their openings are, all three stories have one point in common: they don't mention the name of the event at which the governor was speaking. For that you have to turn to the Sacramento Bee, which informs the reader it was the Climate Action Summit, or more precisely, “an administration-orchestrated “Climate Action Summit””. Of course, you won't find that until the third paragraph, though in its first paragraph the Bee does include the helpful reminder that Schwarzenegger's announcement was made “against the backdrop of a re-election campaign”. It's always worth remembering that when trying to figure out what the governor was really saying.

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