CNN and Fox News repeatedly reported on the Keystone XL pipeline without connecting it to a major oil spill near the pipeline's proposed route. By contrast, MSNBC and others in the media have reported on the spill, which occurred in the Yellowstone River in Montana, in the context of concerns about Keystone XL's environmental risks.
Oil Pipeline Leaked 50,000 Gallons Of Crude Into Yellowstone River. On January 17, an oil pipeline owned by Bridger Pipeline Co. spilled 1,200 barrels of crude oil -- or about 50,000 gallons -- into the Yellowstone River, prompting the governor to declare a state of emergency. Reuters reported:
A small but heavily subscribed pipeline that transports 42,000 barrels a day of crude oil from North Dakota's Bakken region is expected to remain closed on Tuesday after a weekend breach that spilled 1,200 barrels of crude into the Yellowstone River near Glendive, Montana.
Montana Governor Steve Bullock declared a state of emergency in the state's eastern Dawson and Richland counties on Monday while towns and cities downstream, including Williston, North Dakota, are monitoring their water systems in case of contamination.
However the water supply of Glendive, the town of 5,000 about 10 miles (16 km) downstream of the spill, has already been tested and found to have elevated levels of hydrocarbons. Water intakes in the river for the city have been closed, according to the EPA. The company, EPA and other agencies are trying to get other drinking water supplies for Glendive, the EPA's Mylott said. [Reuters, 1/20/15]
Spill Has Released Cancer-Causing Agent Into Region's Water. Days after the spill, officials detected benzene -- a cancer-causing agent -- in the water supply of Glendive. From CBSNews.com:
Some residents of an eastern Montana farm community are criticizing officials for taking more than two days to notify them that their drinking water is contaminated with a cancer-causing chemical.
Elevated levels of benzene were found in water samples taken from a treatment plant that serves about 6,000 people in the agricultural community of Glendive near the North Dakota border. The contamination followed a 50,000 gallon oil spill that found its way from a break in a 12-inch pipeline into the Yellowstone River. [CBSNews.com, 1/20/15]
Keystone XL Would Be Built Close To The Site Of Yellowstone Spill. On January 21, The New York Times reported that Keystone XL "would pass about 25 miles north of Glendive," a town located downstream of the Yellowstone spill. [The New York Times, 1/21/15]
A Spill From Keystone XL Could Be Much Worse Than The Yellowstone Spill. As Think Progress reported, the proposed Keystone XL pipeline is much wider than the Bridger pipeline and would pump much more oil on a daily basis:
The proposed -- and controversial -- northern leg of the Keystone XL pipeline would be three times the diameter of the breached Bridger pipeline, and pump more than 34 million gallons of oil per day through the Dakotas down into Nebraska and into the southern leg in Oklahoma and Texas. Many landowners and local residents are concerned about what a potential spill would mean for critical watersheds and aquifers -- not to mention what subsequent increased tar sands oil production means for Canadian watersheds. [ThinkProgress, 1/19/15]
CNN And Fox Barely Mentioned Yellowstone Spill -- And Didn't Tie It To Keystone XL. CNN and Fox News each provided only a single brief mention of the Yellowstone oil spill, according to a review of Media Matters' internal video archives, and neither mention was in the context of reporting on Keystone XL. CNN made a 20-second mention of the spill in a headline rundown on the January 21 edition of Early Start, while Fox News provided an equally brief mention of the spill on the January 21 edition of Fox & Friends First.
MSNBC's Schultz Cited Yellowstone Spill As Reminder That "The President Is Right To Veto" Keystone XL. On the January 21 edition of The Ed Show, host Ed Schultz noted that Keystone XL would be a much bigger pipeline than the Bridger pipeline, and pointed to the Yellowstone spill as the latest reminder that "oil pipelines are risky":
SCHULTZ: No matter how you cut it, oil pipelines are risky just like cars crash, planes crash, trains have derailments -- pipelines leak. It`s a dangerous game, case and point. Let`s check out Yellowstone River in Montana that`s unfolding right now.
On Saturday, 40,000 gallons of oil leaked into the Yellowstone River from a 12-inch steel pipe. Now, do you know how big this Keystone pipe is going to be? About four times that size.
The Yellowstone River saw another major pipeline spill, in 2011, 63 gallons of oil spilled near Billings, Montana. I could go right on through the list, there`s been major ruptures in California, Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, in North Dakota. The EPA reported between 2012 and 2013 roughly 300 pipeline spills went unreported in North Dakota alone.
Americans need to keep this in mind -- Keystone, the President is right to veto this. [The Ed Show, 1/21/15]
MSNBC's Maddow To Pro-Keystone Senator Manchin: "Does It Give You Pause When We Have Pipeline Accidents Like The One ... In The Yellowstone River In Montana?" During an interview with Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV), who supports Keystone XL, MSNBC's Rachel Maddow noted that the Yellowstone spill occurred "very close to the Keystone route," and asked Manchin whether the spill gives him "pause" about the Keystone XL's possible environmental risks:
MADDOW: Senator, does it give you pause when we have pipeline accidents like the one that we had over the weekend in the Yellowstone River in Montana? That's very close to the Keystone route. That's not a pipeline that was seen as very high risk. In Glendive, Montana tonight, they're drinking bottled water and nobody knows how much of the beautiful Yellowstone River has been destroyed by an oil spill there on a very small pipeline. Are you worried at all that we're essentially selling the safety of this country, putting some very important aquifers at risk, essentially to help Canadian companies get their stuff to the world market at no real benefit to Americas?
MANCHIN: We respectfully disagree on the real benefits to America. Any time we have more security and we have more independence from foreign oil, we're going to be more secure and it might not take us to places such as Afghanistan and Iraq and Syria and all the other places, which I don't believe we should be. So, I've been very clear about that. [MSNBC Special Coverage: State of the Union Address, 1/21/15]
New York Times: Yellowstone spill "has led to renewed concerns among environmentalists about the safety" of Keystone XL. In a January 21 article, The New York Times noted the proximity of the spill to Keystone XL's proposed route, and quoted an environmental group that opposes building the pipeline:
The spill has led to renewed concerns among environmentalists about the safety of the proposed Keystone XL pipeline, which would pass about 25 miles north of Glendive.
Environmental groups, however, said the pipeline rupture was an omen.
"Every barrel of oil that spills into the Yellowstone River is another reason to reject Keystone XL," said Jamie Henn, spokesman for 350.org, an environmental group opposed to Keystone, which is being built to transport crude oil from Canada to refineries in the United States. "Pipelines are inherently unsafe," Mr. Henn said. "If they're not spilling oil into rivers, they're still spilling carbon into the atmosphere." [The New York Times, 1/21/15]
Al Jazeera America: "Montana's latest Yellowstone River spill wrenched focus back to Keystone's risks." Al Jazeera America noted in a January 21 article that Keystone XL would also cross the Yellowstone River, and quoted a local resident expressing concern that while the current spill is "bad," a potential Keystone XL spill could be even worse:
Certainly the disaster is far more than just a local issue. As more than 100 emergency workers hacked at thick river ice in a frantic attempt to find and contain the spilled oil, the U.S. Senate in Washington made good on what its new Republican leaders promised would be their first order of business: approving the Keystone XL pipeline, which would also cross the Yellowstone River in Glendive.
In its similarities to the January 2014 chemical spill in West Virginia's Elk River and the 2012 tar sands pipeline spill in Michigan's Kalamazoo River, Montana's latest Yellowstone River spill wrenched focus back to Keystone's risks.
While President Barrack Obama has vowed to veto Keystone, the enthusiasm of its boosters has left many who live in its path worried that it will still be built, possibly at the expense of vital infrastructure upkeep and without sound contingency plans for spills. The scene in Glendive offered them no comfort.
"This is bad," said Irene Moffett, 79, who ranches and farms on a vast bench of grass above the Yellowstone River in Glendive. "But it's nothing compared to what they want to put in." [Al Jazeera America, 1/21/15]
CNN's Camerota Adopted Senator Ernst's Keystone XL Talking Points, Which Included Downplaying Environmental Impact. The January 21 edition of CNN's New Day featured the GOP's response statement to the State of the Union address, in which Sen. Joni Ernst (R-IA) stated that the State Department has said the Keystone pipeline "could support thousands of jobs and pump billions into our economy, and do it with minimal environmental impact." In response, host Alisyn Camerota asked White House senior adviser Valerie Jarrett, "given all those reasons, why doesn't the president like it?" [CNN, New Day, 1/21/15]
Fox News And CNN Aired Several Other Segments In Which Republicans Advocated For Keystone XL. Since the Yellowstone River spill, Fox News and CNN have aired several segments featuring GOP proponents of Keystone XL:
Coverage of the economy on weeknight television news shows during the last six months of 2014 continued to focus heavily on policies meant to boost job creation and economic growth, but discussions overwhelmingly lacked input from actual economists. Additionally, a Media Matters analysis uncovered a relative decline in the number of segments promoting the conservative media myths that Obamacare and increasing the minimum wage hurt the labor market.
From the January 16 edition of MSNBC's All In with Chris Hayes:
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A brutal attack on a Nigerian town by the militant group Boko Haram that may have killed as many as 2,000 people has been given relatively little attention by the U.S. media.
On January 3, Boko Haram militants attacked the town of Baga, Nigeria, near the Cameroon and Chad borders, after attacking a nearby military base. Conflicting reports on the death toll have emerged -- local officials initially estimated that as many as 2,000 were killed, though recent accounts suggest the death toll is in the hundreds. As of January 12, nine days after the attacks began, "bodies still littered the bushes in the area." More than 10,000 people were killed in 2014 alone in a conflict that has raged for more than five years and displaced 1.5 million people.
But the terrible scale of this tragedy hasn't translated into extensive news coverage, which Maeve Shearlaw noted in a January 12 Guardian article:
But reports of the massacre were coming through and as the world's media focused its attention on Paris, some questioned why events in Nigeria were almost ignored.
On Twitter, Max Abrahms, a terrorism analyst, tweeted: "It's shameful how the 2K people killed in Boko Haram's biggest massacre gets almost no media coverage."
A quick Nexis search confirms this: the Baga massacre has hardly made a dent in cable or network news coverage. Searching evening cable news transcripts between January 3 and 14 for "Boko Haram" turns up only nine substantive discussions of the Baga massacre: four on CNN, three on MSNBC, and two on Fox.
Network news fared even worse. The massacre was mentioned once on NBC, twice on ABC, and once briefly on CBS. According to the American Press Institute, 73 percent of Americans get at least some of their news from nightly broadcast news.
News of the Baga massacre began to reach the Western press around the same time another heinous terrorist attack occurred: the Charlie Hebdo shooting in Paris. While that attack has received wall-to-wall coverage, Baga has barely been addressed. The Hebdo shooting certainly deserves our attention. But given the scale of the Baga tragedy, with as many as 2,000 dead and survivors still trapped on an island on Lake Chad, don't these victims' stories deserve to be heard too?
From the January 15 edition of MSNBC's News Nation with Tamron Hall:
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2014 was a year of eye-popping media numbers, from millions of dollars' worth of coverage devoted to a trumped-up scandal to mere seconds devoted to historic news. Here are some of the most important -- and most surprising -- figures from the year.
Teachers faced an unprecedented level of scrutiny in 2014, thanks to a landmark legal case dismantling teacher tenure in California, which is likely to spark copycats lawsuits across the country. In part due to this increased scrutiny, educators also encountered various attacks from mainstream and conservative media over the year, five of which were particularly egregious.
In June, a California Superior Court handed down the decision in the Vergara v. California trial, a case in which "a group of student plaintiffs ... argued that state tenure laws had deprived them of a decent education by leaving bad teachers in place." Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Rolf M. Treu sided with the students, in a ruling that Teacher Wars author Dana Goldstein wrote "has the potential to overturn five state laws governing" how tenure, which helps guarantee due process to prevent "capricious firings," operates in the state. The lawsuit became something of a model for media attacks -- sparking reactions that ranged from outraged to elated -- and prompted extensive media discussion about the positives and negatives to reform of the public education system.
Unfortunately, much of this discussion featured direct attacks on educators in 2014. They came from all facets of the media sphere, and were often rooted in conservative misinformation, though some rang louder, stronger, and more abhorrent than others.
Here are the top five times media failed educators in 2014.
The November 3 cover story of Time magazine, titled "The War on Teacher Tenure" and promoted on the cover as "Rotten Apples," spurred significant backlash, particularly among teachers, who were dismayed at the portrayal of their profession as "rotten." The backlash led to a petition calling for an apology from Time that garnered more than 70,000 signatures. In their coverage of the Time backlash, however, several media outlets, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, Fox News' Outnumbered, and The Weekly Standard's blog failed to discuss what was at the heart of the controversy: due process for teachers. These media outlets instead took to doubling down on the allegations of "rotten," and making outlandish claims.
If Fox News can find a way to blame any education controversy on teachers or teachers unions, it will do so. Two such instances in 2014 were particularly egregious. When hundreds of Colorado high school students walked out of class to protest a "conservative-led school board proposal" to change their history curriculum, Fox hosted the country board of education president to falsely allege that "teachers [were] using students" as "pawns" not over the history proposal, but over an upcoming teachers union contract. And in March, when New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that he would block three charter schools from using public school space rent-free, Fox figures took to speculating and attacking teachers and teachers unions, arguing, among other things, that de Blasio was trying to "kiss back butt on the unions" and wage a "war on children."
Glenn Beck's book Conform, released in May and co-authored with Kyle Olson, lobbed a number of laughable attacks against public schools, the Common Core State Standards, and in particular, teachers. His ridiculous attacks on teachers included claiming that:
In April, the Kansas State Legislature passed a bill in a whirlwind weekend session that "kill[ed] long-held teacher rights" in the state, namely the right to due process. In addition to being pushed by the Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity, the bill was also introduced by a committee whose chairman had ties to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which has received "untold sums of cash" from the Koch brothers. None of the three major newspapers in Kansas, however, made the connection between the legislation and the Koch brothers in their original reporting.
Media Matters conducted an analysis of education coverage on weeknight cable news programs from January 1 to October 31, 2014, to determine how many of the shows' guests who discussed the topic were educators. The report found that across CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC, educators made up only 9 percent of guests during education segments, with each network only hosting a total of one, four, and eleven educators, respectively.
This post has been updated for accuracy.
Media outlets have described Hillary Clinton's wealth and the speaking fees she has earned as a "potentially serious political problem" and a "potential political liability." Will they describe the financial dealings of former Florida Governor Jeb Bush the same way now that he is exploring a presidential run? And will they do in-depth reporting on the controversial business deals Bush has been involved in?
From the December 12 edition of MSNBC's The Ed Show:
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From the December 11 edition of MSNBC's The Cycle:
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Media Matters conducted an analysis of education coverage on weeknight cable news programs so far in 2014 to determine how many of the shows' guests who discussed the topic were educators. The analysis found that across MSNBC, Fox News, and CNN, educators made up only 9 percent of guests during education segments.
Media figures are touting the Keystone XL pipeline as an "environmentally safe" alternative to truck and rail transportation, uncritically citing a State Department report on the environmental impact of building Keystone XL. But experts and subsequent studies have determined that the report is based on faulty conclusions and grossly underestimates greenhouse gas emissions caused by Keystone.
In early October, the GOP developed a plan to make the federal government's response to Ebola a central part of its midterm elections strategy. Television media played into Republicans' hands, helping to foment panic about the disease. Following the diagnosis of a handful of U.S. Ebola patients, the major broadcast networks ran nearly 1,000 segments about the virus in the four weeks leading up to the elections. Coverage of the disease plummeted in the two weeks following Election Day, with the same networks running fewer than 50 total segments.
MSNBC host Joe Scarborough peddled the myth that building the Keystone XL pipeline would "create 50,000 new jobs," even though independent fact checkers have called that figure false. The pipeline is projected to create as few as 50 permanent jobs.
The House of Representatives passed a bill to fast-track approval of the Keystone XL pipeline for the ninth time on Friday. A parallel measure will be considered in the Senate on Tuesday. The administration has indicated that it plans to delay approval of the pipeline while a legal challenge to the proposed route proceeds and suggested that President Obama would veto the effort to accelerate the process.
Scarborough questioned any decision to delay the pipeline on the November 17 edition of Morning Joe and wrongly claimed that the project would "create 50,000 new jobs."
The implication that building the pipeline would create 50,000 jobs that don't currently exist is not true. As PolitiFact noted in calling similar job creation estimates false, many of the jobs that would be supported by the pipeline already exist, and the majority of the construction jobs that would be supported are short term.
"A State Department review found the project could support -- not create -- 42,100 jobs. But that number needs considerable explanation and does not amount to tens of thousands of full-time jobs in the most common sense of employment," PolitiFact noted. "The figure represents the project's estimated direct, indirect and induced jobs over two years of construction, and all but 50 are temporary."
From the November 12 edition of MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show:
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