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.
The Washington Post's Fact Checker debunked the claim that net neutrality protections could cost American consumers $15 billion in additional taxes and fees -- a favorite conservative argument against net neutrality and one parroted by multiple media outlets -- concluding the estimate contains "significant factual error[s] and/or obvious contradictions."
Fox News promoted debunked claims about President Obama's proposed net neutrality regulations, falsely asserting that the regulations are unpopular, would stifle innovation, and raise costs for consumers.
On Wednesday The New York Times reported that President Obama urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to "pre-empt state laws that restrict communities' ability to expand high-speed internet access to underserved areas." This initiative is part of the President's plan to implement net neutrality regulations and "keep the United States competitive with other nations that have faster and more widespread Internet connections."
In response to Obama's announcement, Fox News' Special Report recycled debunked conservative claims about net neutrality during the January 13 edition of the show. Host Bret Baier described net neutrality as "a slew of unnecessary regulations that hurt competition and ultimately consumers." Fox correspondent Doug McKelway claimed the new net neutrality regulations will raise costs, citing an "estimate of15 billion dollars in new state and federal taxes a year," and suggested that most Americans do not support the proposed regulations.
Fox News consistently pushes fears of government "land grabs" surrounding environmental regulations. But the network celebrated the recent court decision allowing TransCanada to force construction of the Keystone XL pipeline on private land -- with no mention of the threat to landowner rights.
The Nebraska Supreme Court recently overturned a lower court ruling that would have protected the property rights of landowners who do not want the Keystone XL pipeline built on their land and fear that a spill could devastate region's drinking water and agriculture-based economy. As CBS reported, the ruling upheld a 2012 law allowing Canadian oil firm TransCanada to "seize property using eminent domain from any landowners who deny the developer access." A majority of Nebraska's Supreme Court -- four of the seven judges -- actually voted that the statute authorizing TransCanada's use of eminent domain was unconstitutional, but that fell just short of the supermajority (of at least five judges) necessary to make such a ruling.
Rather than address the decision's impact on property rights, Fox News celebrated the ruling by repeating the GOP talking point that President Obama is now out of "excuses" for stalling on Keystone XL as the GOP attempts to pass legislation forcing its approval in Congress this week. On the January 9 edition of Fox News' America's Newsroom, digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt reported that the ruling "basically removes... the last obstacle or excuse for the administration and President Obama saying that it was not ripe for a decision." On the January 9 edition of Special Report, Correspondent Mike Emanuel stated that "New Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said now the President is out of excuses." And on the January 12 edition of America's Newsroom, co-host Bill Hemmer posited that the White House may have "run out of excuses on Keystone," and Republican strategist Tony Sayegh agreed:
Fox News revived the baseless conspiracy theory that the nearly three-year old federal investigation into former CIA director David Petraeus is an attempt by the Obama administration to silence Petraeus on the 2012 Benghazi attacks.
The New York Times reported on January 9 that the FBI and Justice Department prosecutors recommended federal charges against former CIA director David H. Petraeus for providing "classified information to a lover while he was director of the C.I.A." Petraeus subsequently resigned as director of the CIA after his affair was made public.
But on the January 12 edition of Fox News' Special Report, chief intelligence correspondent Catherine Herridge lent credibility to GOP concerns that the federal investigation into David Petraeus is an attempt by the Obama administration to silence Petraeus' testimony on the 2012 Benghazi, Libya terrorist attacks.
The segment also included a statement from Thomas Dupree, former deputy assistant attorney general under George W. Bush, who explained that "just being quiet, staying mum, invoking your Fifth Amendment rights," while being charged with a felony "could be the safest course." Herridge ended her report noting that the GOP-led Benghazi select committee still hopes to call Petraeus as a witness in their investigation.
In 2012, Fox repeatedly pushed the baseless accusation that Petraeus was "being blackmailed by the White house to toe the company line." Fox's smear was parroted by radio host Rush Limbaugh who speculated that Petraeus resigned to escape an attempt by the Obama administration to manipulate him into lying about the Benghazi attack.
The imaginary scandal was later denounced on Fox News, when Fox's Geraldo Rivera called it "absolutely reckless," and pointed out that Petraeus himself cited his extramarital affair as the reason for his resignation.
Fox News reported on Pope Francis' upcoming action on climate change by promoting climate change denial and suggesting that the pope is aligning with "extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution."
While many Catholics praised Pope Francis' recent announcement that he will publish an encyclical -- a papal letter sent to all the bishops in the Catholic Church -- on climate change, Fox News responded by stoking fears and promoting climate change denial. Fox News correspondent Doug McKelway reported on the December 30 edition of Special Report that the move will be "aligning [Pope Francis] with some church enemies," including "a few environmental extremists who favor widespread population control and wealth redistribution." The segment also featured climate "skeptic" Marc Morano -- who is paid by an industry-funded group to run the climate change-denying website ClimateDepot.com -- to falsely claim that there has been "no global warming" for "almost two decades":
But acting on climate change already has widespread support among Catholics. The pope's move comes after senior bishops from around the globe called on the world's governments to phase out fossil fuels completely in order to "protect frontline communities suffering from the impacts of climate change." Christian leaders have been promoting climate action for many years, citing its disproportionate impacts on the poor as a main concern. In 2006, the Evangelical Climate Initiative urged members of the church to act on climate change because it "hit[s] the poor the hardest":
Poor nations and poor individuals have fewer resources available to cope with major challenges and threats. The consequences of global warming will therefore hit the poor the hardest, in part because those areas likely to be significantly affected first are in the poorest regions of the world. Millions of people could die in this century because of climate change, most of them our poorest global neighbors.
Christians must care about climate change because we are called to love our neighbors, to do unto others as we would have them do unto us, and to protect and care for the least of these as though each was Jesus Christ himself (Mt. 22:34-40; Mt. 7:12; Mt. 25:31-46).
Christians, noting the fact that most of the climate change problem is human induced, are reminded that when God made humanity he commissioned us to exercise stewardship over the earth and its creatures. Climate change is the latest evidence of our failure to exercise proper stewardship, and constitutes a critical opportunity for us to do better (Gen. 1:26-28).
Conservative media issued catastrophic predictions and myths about the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in 2014, despite ample evidence that the health care law is working. Media Matters looks back at six claims about Obamacare that didn't pan out for the right-wing media this year.
Conservative media celebrated the effectiveness of torture in response to news that the U.S. Senate Intelligence Committee would release its report on the Central Intelligence Agency's (CIA) detention and interrogation program, attacking the Senate for releasing the report and disputing the report's findings. Military and interrogation experts have emphasized that torture is an ineffective interrogation technique, and human rights groups support the release of the report.
Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume downplayed the prevalence of campus sexual assaults by misleadingly pointing to a Justice Department study which only surveyed respondents on assaults which occurred per year. Hume's analysis ignored that studies on campus sexual assault consistently find that nearly 20 percent of college-aged women report that they have been assaulted in their lifetime -- a completely different unit of measurement than the Justice Department's study.
During the December 8 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier, Hume highlighted a 2013 study from the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) that found that "the annual rate of sexual assaults on women in America declined by 58%," using the report to refute the the often-cited Campus Sexual Assault (CSA) survey used by "activists and President Obama who have been claiming for years that one in every five women will be sexually assaulted while at college," mocking it for including categories such as "forced kissing."
But Hume's comparison is flawed. The DOJ report only cites "the estimated annual rate of female rape or sexual assault victimizations," that occur per year and includes all females age 12 or older. The CSA study specifically surveyed women in college and asked women if they had been assaulted in their lifetime, reporting that "one out of five undergraduate women experience an attempted or completed sexual assault" since entering college.
And studies consistently echoed CSA's findings. A 2010 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 20 percent of women have been raped in their lifetime:
Nearly 1 in 5 women (18.3%) and 1 in 71 men (1.4%) in the United States have been raped at some time in their lives, including completed forced penetration, attempted forced penetration, or alcohol/drug facilitated completed penetration.
Fox News originally ignored a House GOP report debunking many of its Benghazi myths but is now attacking the report's credibility to promote the need for more Benghazi Select Committee hearings.
In November, the House Intelligence Committee, chaired by Republicans, released the results of a lengthy investigation that "debunk[ed] a series of persistent allegations" perpetuated by conservative media outlets about the events and culpability surrounding the 2012 attacks on U.S. diplomatic facilities in Benghazi, Libya. The report reaffirmed the findings of several previous investigations and once again determined that "there was no intelligence failure, no delay in sending a CIA rescue team, no missed opportunity for a military rescue, and no evidence the CIA was covertly shipping arms from Libya to Syria."
Fox News remained mostly silent in the wake of the report's publication, giving the report only cursory coverage while flagship news program Fox News Sunday ignored it entirely. The network's lack of coverage earned condemnation from CNN media critic Brian Stelter and even Fox's own media analyst, Howard Kurtz. The absence of coverage stood in stark contrast toFox's exhaustive focus on the formation of a select committee to investigate Benghazi in June, when the network devoted at least 225 segments to the select committee over a mere two-week span.
With another Benghazi Select Committee hearing scheduled for December 10, Fox has changed its approach from silence to overt attempts to undermine the GOP report's credibility.
Bret Baier, host of Fox's Special Report, claimed on December 3 that "many" believe the House Intelligence Committee's Benghazi report "went soft on the Obama administration and was filled inaccuracies" and emphasized the further investigation by the Benghazi Select Committee. To bolster this allegation, investigative reporter Catherine Herridge noted the "eyewitness accounts" of Kris Paronto and John Tiegen, who, according to Herridge, "say there was an intelligence failure. They were directly warned in late August a strike was likely, yet no Defense Department assets were available on the September 11th anniversary."
Special Report's December 3 panel went to further lengths to undermine the Intelligence Committee report as Baier, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, The Weekly Standard's Steve Hayes, and The Hill's A. B. Stoddard suggested that the investigation was insufficient.
But Fox's latest attempts at subverting the committee report amount to nothing more than highlighting a smattering of Republican lawmakers who claim to remember events occurring differently than they were laid out in the final report. In a December 5 article for FoxNews.com, Herridge reported that newly declassified testimony contained the statements of members of Congress recalling that former CIA director David Petraeus connected the Benghazi attack to the protests against an anti-Muslim YouTube video in an off-the-record coffee meeting two days after the attack:
If the lawmakers' recollection is accurate, that means Petraeus' brief on Sept. 14, 2012, was instead in line with the White House, and then-Secretary Hillary Clinton's State Department. It was a State Department press release at 10:07 p.m. ET, before the attack was even over, that first made the link to the obscure anti-Islam video. The newly declassified testimony says $70,000 was spent on advertising in Pakistan, denouncing the anti-Muslim film.
During this testimony, GOP Rep. Jeff Miller questioned Petraeus' original testimony, stating the former CIA director "even went so far as to say that it had been put into Arabic language and then was put on this TV station, this cleric's TV station. I mean, [Petraeus] drove that in pretty hard when he was in here. "
Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., added "it was said in here a little bit earlier that the CIA never said Benghazi was part of a Cairo protest and of the video. And we were given just the opposite message by the Director of the CIA on the [September] 14th [2012.]"
Rogers noted there was no transcript for the brief, only staff notes, but after the Petraeus incident in September 2012, the practice was changed to always run a transcript on the briefings. The Sept. 14, 2012, brief was a coffee meeting with members.
USA Today reported that the Fox-promoted Select Committee may cost $1.5 million this year, despite numerous other independent investigations finding no wrongdoing with relation to the events in Benghazi.
From the December 4 edition of Fox News' Special Report with Bret Baier:
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From the November 25 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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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.
From the November 10 edition of Fox News' Special Report:
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