Today, on MSN's money page there appeared a story about the persistent damages inflicted on Prince William Sound by the toxic residues of the Exxon Valdez' encounter with a submerged reef.
Exxon resists claim for more oil spill cash
ExxonMobil on Thursday refuted the US government's claim that it should pay $92m more to clean up Alaska 17 years after he Exxon Valdez tanker accident resulted in the US's largest oil spill.
The US Justice department and the Alaska Department of Law said studies showed residual oil from the 1989 spill in the inter-tidal zone of beaches, which they had not anticipated "would remain toxic and continue to impact natural resources". Exxon already paid $900m in a civil settlement, yet that settlement had a "re-opener clause'' stating Exxon could be required to pay up to an additional $100m for unforeseen natural resource damages.
The company said it would study the request before responding, but added, "Nothing we have seen so far, however, indicates that this request for further funding from Exxon is justified." Exxon argues that the request appears focused
primarily, if not exclusively, on the hypothesis that remaining oil could be
capable of causing biological harm.
"That is no more than a hypothesis," Exxon said.
Do the Editors at MSN actually lack that much lexical acumen? How does one edit a nationally distributed news service without realizing that to "refute" a claim requires more than simply denying it, or derogating it?
There is no evidence presented in the story, as far as I can tell, which supports the use of the word "refuted" in the first graf. To "refute" an allegation is to present evidence which rebuts the allegation. A claim is "refuted" when it is shown to be untrue.
When words lose their meanings, they become nothing more than empty signifiers, and understanding becomes impossible. If that happens, then cooperative action becomes impossible. When that occurs, politics become impossible. Then anything can happen.