MSNBC's (GE's) Dylan Ratigan Show "Firewater?" Series: Natural Gas Industry-Media Complex Exposed
by Steve Horn
The June 8-June 10 episodes of MSNBC's Dylan Ratigan Show featured a three-part series titled "Firewater?" It pondered whether drilling for methane gas is a path toward a prosperious "clean energy" future for the United States, or if, to the contrary, the harms of methane gas drilling, caused by a process called fracking, nullify these oft-repeated industry claims.
While three recent scientific reports -- one by Duke University, one by Cornell University, and one by the Post Carbon Institute -- point to the latter, Ratigan's series portrayed the issue as still up for debate, with both sides' claims having equal merit.
Lest we chalk this up to a typical display of mythical "balanced reporting" by the mass media, it is also important to remember that NBC is owned, in part, by General Electric, alongside Comcast. GE, being a jack of all trades, makes electronics, produces healthcare equipment, manufactures weaponry for war, and designed the nuclear reactors that melted down in recent the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Furthermore, it maintains an energy wing called GE Energy, which among other things, is on the hunt for methane gas, under a wing called GE Oil and Gas.
Additionally, GE is a water privatizer, having recently attended the 2011 Global Water Summit, whose website's URL, appropriately enough, is www.WaterMeetsMoney.com. At this point, it is beyond doubt that fracking contaminates drinking water with all sorts of toxic chemicals and carcinogens, including benzene, a known carcinogen.
Yet Ratigan failed to disclose not only GE's financial interest in drilling for methane gas, but also the company's contamination of drinking water. But Ratigan's failure to disclose in his "Firewater" series went far beyond this. A day-by-day run-through of journalistic disclosure failures, thus, is in order.
Day One: Front Group Representative and Four Voices For vs. One Against
Day one of the series served as the "introduction" to the fracking debate, accompanied by an article that ran in the Huffington Post. Roughly a five-minute segment, Ratigan delved into details about "how it's done" and "who stands to gain from this project." From the onset, Ratigan said he hopes to "lay out the claims and hopefully get to the facts."
In explaining "how it's done," Ratigan did not mention that during the process of drilling for underground gas reserves, a secret stew of chemicals is injected into the ground that allows for the gas to rise to the earth's surface. Nor did he mention that -- thanks to what is now infamously called the "Halliburton Loophole" -- the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is prohibited from applying the Safe Drinking Water Act to the methane gas drilling process. Thanks to this loophole, gas drilling companies do not have to disclose what chemicals they inject into the ground because the formulas are deemed "trade secrets." The "Halliburton Loophole" was crafted at a 2001 meeting of former Vice President Dick Cheney's secretive Energy Task force. Attendees at that meeting included -- coincidentally --the CEOs of General Electric and Cabot Oil and Gas.
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