Friday, November 11, 2011

A Tale of Two Cities:
NBC’s Fracking PR

On October 31st, 2011 NBC premiered its new weekly newsmagazine “Rock Center.” The first segment of its first show was on the economic miracle of Williston, North Dakota. The piece described the abundance of newly available good paying jobs and the good fortune of those who live and moved there. That was the dominant theme of the nine minute piece. The reason for their success? Natural Gas.

The innovative new process that allows for the mining of previously unavailable oil and natural gas was described as follows.

SMITH: And they frack it, so they pour water into this at high pressure, and the oil just comes oozing out.

Not once in the piece did they highlight a single downside to fracking. The only thing they mentioned was the jobs it brings.

In the follow up the next week Smith did point out that some animals have died as a result of drinking fracking fluid, but didn’t say that fracking poses a risk to human health. They did point out again the plentiful jobs fracking created.

The oil and gas companies have flooded cable news with ads promoting fracking as safe and mentioning the jobs it creates. Virtually none of the shows they sponsor mention the risks of fracking.

To hear NBC and the oil companies tell it, there is no risk to fracking. The process they tout bears little resemblance to the practice 60 minutes detailed.

CBS’s 60 minutes told the tale of another town’s experience with Natural Gas: Dimock, Pennsylvania. In Dimock, due to human error, Natural Gas seeped into the water supply, making it toxic, flammable, and undrinkable. Here is how one resident of Dimock described his view of fracking.

I can live without natural gas, but I can’t live without my water.

That’s my view of fracking as well. NBC completely ignored the risks of fracking while touting the jobs it has created. Their other stories were very good, but on this issue they failed to give their viewers the full picture.

One trip to Rock Center’s website makes one thing very clear. They are sponsored by Exxon Mobil.

You got that right.

Bonus Material:

Here is the interview Jon Stewart did with Josh Fox about “Gasland” an anti-fracking documentary Josh produced.

Originally Posted 11/11/11

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