Trump EPA chief Pruitt cites much-criticized NY Times article to defend decision to withdraw from Paris climate agreement

EPA administrator Scott Pruitt cited a much-criticized New York Times article to defend President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement. In an interview with ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, Pruitt suggested, “The New York Times had an article within, I think, the last couple of days that talked about small business celebrating, euphoria, with respect to the president's decision.”

The June 2 article Pruitt referred to stated, “While multinational corporations such as Disney, Goldman Sachs and IBM have opposed the president’s decision to walk away from the international climate agreement, many small companies around the country were cheering him on, embracing the choice as a tough-minded business move that made good on Mr. Trump’s commitment to put America’s commercial interests first.”

The article, however, drew criticism for partially relying on the same pro-Trump voices as a previous article by the same reporter to praise the administration’s decision. As noted by Boston Globe columnist Michael Cohen, the article was “remarkably similar” to another Times article written three months earlier “about small biz owners cheering Trump.” Cohen, and others, pointed out that the same two people, Louis M. Soltis and Jeffrey Korzenik,  “are quoted in both articles extolling Mr. Trump’s virtues” and “their positive words about Trump are used as evidence that small business owners are behind the president.”

Moreover, as Stephanopoulos noted, many business leaders expressed their support of the Paris agreement. These businesses included oil and coal companies, Fortune 500 companies, and digital powerhouses.

From the June 4 edition of ABC’s This Week:

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GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS (HOST): You’ve received backlash in the business community. Twenty-five businesses signed a letter to the president saying this is not going to be good for the economy. Here’s what they wrote. They say, “By expanding markets for innovative clean technologies, the agreement generates jobs and economic growth. U.S. companies are well positioned to lead in these markets. Withdrawing from the agreement will limit our access to them and could expose us to retaliatory measures.” They believe it’s going to be bad for the economy to pull out.

SCOTT PRUITT: Well, when you look at, even The New York Times had an article, I think, within the last couple of days that talked about small business celebrating, euphoria, with respect to the president's decision.