(Editor’s note: This article was updated on June 8.)
Remember when we had a president who thrust the spotlight on Pittsburgh for all the right reasons?
We can barely recall, either. All we know is we haven’t seen this kind of news coverage about Pittsburgh since the G20, when President Obama showered love on our city and the media followed suit.
Donald Trump’s alliterative but misguided “I represent the citizens of Pittsburgh not Paris” remark, as he backed the U.S. out of the Paris climate accord, resulted in another deluge of press about Pittsburgh. This time most of it was in course-correction mode.
This, from a former Pittsburgher now living in California.
It started with our sound bite-savvy mayor who disputed Pittsburgh as an example of a city in opposition to the Paris climate accord.
Meanwhile, some of us paused to wonder about other U.S. cities that start with P: Peoria. Portland. Pensacola. Petaluma. Could he have picked on one of them, perhaps? Unlike Pittsburgh, did any of those cities actually vote for him?
And while the mayor was interviewed by national and international media over the “Pittsburgh not Paris comment, other media picked up the sound bites, from CBS This Morning to CNN to MSNBC to you name it.
Yes, another planet. Which is pretty much where some of us feel like we’re living right now.
“‘Pittsburgh,’ Mayor Bill Peduto said Thursday, ‘is an example of how environmentalism can also mean economic development,’” said The New York Times. It was a very different message from the one the president delivered hours earlier at the White House, where he warned that the international climate pact would cost the American economy too much.”
“The thing is, the people of Pittsburgh are going green,” Bloomberg noted. “Pittsburgh mayor, William Peduto, issued a statement decrying Trump’s decision to quit the Paris accord as “disastrous,” and has set a goal of running the city completely with clean power by 2035.”
The New York Times on June 7 published another article on the subject, this one penned by both the mayor of Pittsburgh and the mayor of Paris where they proclaim “We have our own climate deal.”
Does our mayor know how to make the most of a moment or what?
It’s not just the mayor. There was this full-page ad in the Post-Gazette signed by dozens of elected officials.
The Washington Post followed up with another article, too: In the Paris of the Appalachians they’re not buying Trump’s climate talk — with a great photo of a spinning class on a Mt. Washington overlook. Note how green our city looks from the vantage of the Emerald View Park.
Sorry, Donald: Pittsburgh Thinks You Are Wrong About Climate Change, bleated the headline in Mother Jones.
Or this in Slate:
In an interview with The Telegraph:
“Mr. Peduto said he was stunned by Mr. Trump’s announcement—and use of his city of Pittsburgh. ‘I was shocked for two main reasons. Firstly, I was at Paris and was one of the 500 mayors from across the world saying the water’s warm and that we’re going to do this,’” he said.
“Secondly, it is ironic that he used Pittsburgh in his announcement. Hillary Clinton won Pittsburgh with nearly 80 per cent of the vote.”
It was a little less but you get the point.
By Friday night, a little more than 24 hours after Trump’s remark, The New Yorker published this gem:
And Pittsburgh laughed at the absurdity. Let’s face it: these are wildly confusing and very trying times for cities. And as Pittsburgh fights the preposterous position that our president has put us in, let’s keep in mind that Pittsburgh has its mind on other things at the moment, that also start with P. Like the Penguins.
As we cheer on our team, perhaps we’ll take a moment to fondly remember the time a president favored our city for all the right reasons, when we were called out again and again as a model of urban revitalization. From the G20 to the White House Frontiers Conference, Pittsburgh was the poster city for what a city could become.
President Obama got us.
Unlike President Trump.