The Washington Post editorial page (10/5/12) weighed in on the contentious environmental issue of fracking. No surprise–they're all for it. "Fracking's Green Side" is the headline in the print edition. (The Web version is different.) The editors write: Those who would ban fracking or regulate it into oblivion ignore the exceptional benefits that inexpensive natural gas can provide in the biggest environmental fight of our time–against climate change. Of course, many people who fight climate change don't think fracking is the answer. They point to the considerable local environmental hazards–water and air pollution, for starters–but they also question the argument [...]
Part of being a journalist–the most important part, perhaps–is deciding which information is most relevant to readers. So take a look at today's New York Times piece (9/14/12) on Iran's nuclear program. The focus is on Israeli threats and where it says it is drawing its "red line" for military action. But this focus is distorting one of the most important facts about the conflict. Mark Landler and Helene Cooper explain that Israeli leaders are unhappy with the White House position: Israeli officials, however, say this guarantee may not be enough for Israel, which Iranian leaders have repeatedly threatened with [...]
FAIR's new action alert shows how the Washington Post failed to disclose to readers that a two-page spread on the election-year energy debate was based on events the paper co-sponsored with the American Petroleum Institute. We're asking people to write to the Post's ombud about this conflict. Please feel free to share your letter in the comments section below.
A few weeks ago Newsweek got a lot of attention for Niall Ferguson's factually challenged cover story slamming the Obama case for re-election. This week, in true corporate media style, we get the "other" side: An argument that Obama should move the Democratic party to the right. Peter Boyer's piece, "Why Barack Needs Bill," recycles some of more dubious claims about the effectiveness of Clinton's brand of center-right "triangulation." Since this is the media's usual advice for Democrats– move to the right in order to capture the center– it's worth unpacking. Clinton-style "New Democrats," Boyers explains, "have nearly vanished." And [...]
NBC's Tom Brokaw from the Republican National Convention last night (8/30/12): The best line, I think, in the speech was the one in which he said: "President Obama wants to slow the growth of the oceans, I want to help you and your family." Yeah, wasn't that great when Romney pretended we weren't facing an ongoing global catastrophe, and made fun of people who thought we should do something about it? How can you top that?
In an attempted factcheck of Mitt Romney's acceptance speech at the Republican convention, AP's Calvin Woodward (8/30/12) takes on Romney's big laugh line: President Obama promised to begin to slow the rise of the oceans and to heal the planet. My promise is to help you and your family. Woodward looked into it and found that, indeed, Obama had said something like that. But aren't the important factual questions here whether ocean levels actually are rising, and if so whether it's possible to do anything about them? (The answers are "yes" and "yes," as it turns out.) The Washington Post [...]
In a New York Times story (8/24/12) about Mitt Romney's energy proposals, reporters Eric Lipton and Clifford Krauss make this observation: With gasoline prices again approaching $4 a gallon, Mr. Romney, the presumptive Republican nominee, is also trying to merge energy and economic policy in a way that will make voters see increased energy production as a pocketbook issue. Note that Lipton and Krauss don't say that increased U.S. energy production will actually affect the $4-a-gallon price of gas and hence the voters' pocketbooks; that would be inaccurate, since oil is a global commodity and it's impossible for the U.S. [...]
"Mitt Romney Sees Path to Energy Independence," an L.A. Times piece by Seema Mehta (8/22/12), doesn't mention climate change at all. It also doesn't mention tar sands, the Canadian oil deposits whose extraction would devastate the environment, even though that's what Romney's talking about when he says that approving the Keystone pipeline will be one of the keys to energy independence for "North America." Nor does it mention the ongoing ecological disaster in the Gulf of Mexico, even though that's surely relevant to Romney touting offshore drilling as the other major piece of his energy plan. The story also leads [...]
You would think–or maybe hope–that journalists who have to appear alongside climate change deniers would find it a bit awkward. It used to be that media were faulted for creating false "balance" in coverage of climate change–quoting reality-based scientists in roughly equal measure with non-scientists who either don't think there's a problem or don't think human activity has anything to do with it. That doesn't seem to be as much of a problem anymore (though it made a comeback after "Climategate"). But ABC has a built-in climate problem: The network's Sunday morning show regularly includes right-wing climate denier George Will, [...]
This is the sort of awkward juxtaposition that newspapers usually try to avoid. In today's Washington Post (7/9/12), a story about the Keystone pipeline appears above a Chevron ad: Awkward. Then again, maybe not. Juliet Eilperin's article is all about what supporters of the pipeline project in the state of Montana are saying. Politicians, academics and labor leaders are all behind the project. One critic–a farmer–is heard from ("Not everyone in Montana has embraced the pipeline…"), but she says she'd support the pipeline if it was exclusively for the benefit of a local oil field. Is Keystone really the kind [...]
Independent media outlets have basically owned the ALEC story over the past few years. The American Legislative Exchange Council is a corporate-sponsored "bill mill" that works with state legislatures to pass the kinds of laws corporations want. Thanks to investigations in Mother Jones, the Nation, Extra! and continued attention from the likes of AlterNet and ThinkProgress, a group that prefers to work in the shadows has been exposed to a harsh spotlight. And the group doing much of the hard work to expose ALEC–the Center for Media & Democracy–has pushed many of the group's corporate backers to bail out. So [...]
FAIR has noted the tendency of corporate media to play down the connection of extreme weather to climate change. (See Neil deMause's piece in Extra!, 8/11.) This summer, as the country is beset by another devastating wave of drought and fires, the approach seems to be to acknowledge climate change–in the 10th paragraph–but end up by concluding that it's impossible to say whether there's any connection between climate change and any particular weather phenomenon. As in this L.A. Times piece (7/2/12): Since 2000, it has not been uncommon for wildfire seasons to end with a tally of 7 million to [...]