So sorry for my absence and tardiness on responding to yet another Kevin Begos article that favors industry. This one is a doozie.
There are some people you just don’t attack. Robert Donnan is one of those people. Bob has been and still is a vocal critic of the way fracking is being used in Pennsylvania. He is particularly critical of fracking in parks and of industry running roughshod over people. Both are things Range Resources loves to do.
Bob loves photography and flying so he has provided us with some stunning and incriminating photos of industry’s operations. Bob chooses his words carefully and thinks long before he spends words.
Kevin Begos obviously didn’t know these things about Bob when he published a story about activists changing their tone. He should have because he is supposed to be a journalist. Part of journalism is investigating.
Bob has already done a fine job of responding and pointing out inaccuracies HERE. I want to add that this is the typical formula/recipe Begos uses: Put something sensational at the beginning of the story where it will have the most impact and inoculate readers early.
Robert Donnan had been an outspoken critic of drilling in general and Range Resources, the company that sunk the first Marcellus well in 2004, in particular. In February, the McMurray man leased his land to Range, according to public documents obtained by The Associated Press.
Donnan has never slowed down one bit in speaking out or criticizing drilling or Range Resources. Like me, Donnan was backed into a corner on leasing and decided to use industry money to fund his opposition. I would say, rather than slacking off, Donnan has picked up a head of steam. But using the past tense in that sentence served the slant and spin-stacked-upon-spin a story that claims a false victory.
The Ghandi false start.
The article attempts to claim a victory for industry using the famous Ghandi quote.
First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.
But none of the fracking insurgents mentioned in the article have stopped fighting so industry has won nothing. They continue to bully and we continue to fight back. This kind of manipulation and blatant attack only creates more resolve.
Let’s talk about oysters.
I don’t eat oysters raw or cooked. I tried them raw once and couldn’t understand the fascination. I tried them in a Po’ Boy Sandwich in New Orleans but there are so many other things to stack in a Po’ Boy. Since BP ruined the Gulf ecosystem for generations, I have never again consider eating anything from those waters.
I don’t really have a dog in the oyster fight except that I support food safety and the right to know what’s in our food, where it came from and if it’s genetically modified. I also know that during certain times of the year raw oyster carry a bacteria that can be deadly. Many restaurants here in Texas–even seafood restaurants–refuse to serve oysters raw during that time of year because they feel a sense of responsibility to their customers and they probably don’t want to get sued.
You might ask: why I am writing about oysters on a blog about fracking and drilling? It’s probably because I watched way too much Sesame Street when my boys were young. I tend to look at the world through Big Bird’s eyes and ask, which of these things is not like the others, and how are these things alike.
When I noticed that Kevin Begos, the same AP reporter who writes about fracking and drilling with a favorable slant, used to be the director at a seafood task force that helped member corporations dodge safety regulation, well, that sounded so much like another trade organization we know, I thought Big Bird would want to see how seafood safety regulation is like fracking regulation.
But first…Here’s a bit about why oyster safety is important.
Raw or undercooked oysters are the primary Vibrio culprits. Symptoms include the classic signs of foodborne illness but for some consumers, the illness can progress to ulcerous skin lesions and septicemia. Almost half of those reporting these more serious infections die and those that survive can suffer lifetime infirmities. Those most at risk include consumers with diabetes, hemochromatosis, compromised immune systems or liver disease.
In an option piece written by Begos he argues against food safety and regulation of oysters. He opines that consumers should be allowed to consume a naturally occurring bacteria in raw oysters that only kills some people but not others–and the surprise is which ones die. It’s a kind of Oyster Roulette where oyster suppliers have no responsibility in harm.
“There is no such thing as zero-risk in life, and people have the right to eat a simple, natural food that humans have enjoyed for thousands of years,” Begos said
“We got 6,000 signatures on our petition in a week and on Facebook we had 7,000 members in one week,” Begos said. “We got broad support: restaurants, food lovers and support from people who don’t even like oysters who felt that consumers have a right to choose what food they want to eat.” Said Begos. Source
The Center for Science in the Public Interest wants the federal government (FDA) to ensure oyster safety through regulation. The oyster industry wants the federal government to keep out. If that argument sounds familiar it’s because the tobacco industry used it first with great success and now the fracking industry is using it:
People have rights! People have the right to smoke, to play Oyster Roulette with their food and to frack their land.
The arguments Begos uses on behalf of the seafood industry mirror the industry’s arguments on allowing fracking.
- Jobs are at risk
- The bacteria only effects/kills a few people with sensitivities
- keep the feds out of our business.
For more information about Begos’ former gig, see this blog post by Dory.
It’s surprising to me that AP hired Begos knowing he worked in a fracking Joe Camel type position.
Maybe Ruffalo is onto something when he tweeted the following:
AP “reporter” Kevin Begos degrades the reliability Of the Associated Press. Reporter or gas industry boy? http://t.co/E2xsuh5ugd
— Mark Ruffalo (@Mruff221) July 27, 2013
Although I think there are some outstanding AP reporters, it seems Ruffalo is not the only one who has noticed:
The AP headed to mediocrity: The difference between “the” and “a.”
Also see AP Gets it All Wrong: Hacks, Frackers, and the Myth of Converted Fractivists
UPDATE: I forgot to ask once again as I have many times: Where are Begos’ editors?
About Sharon Wilson
Sharon Wilson is considered a leading citizen expert on the impacts of shale oil and gas extraction. She is the go-to person whether it’s top EPA officials from D.C., national and international news networks, or residents facing the shock of eminent domain and the devastating environmental effects of natural gas development in their backyards.
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V Appalachia says
This is brilliant. Thank you for all you do Sharon.
Thanks especially for being one of the best sources shining a light on fracking, since the mass media “free” press seems to have been completely bought off and not inclined to do so.
I do think we need to remember there are some fine journalists writing about Fracking and don’t forget that they too have been victims of Begos hit pieces.
OIL FEILD WORKER says
Drill Drill Drill Thanks to fracing we can be energy independent in 3 years!
Brag on OIL FIELD WORKER above—-and I add to your comment–“and we will have no place to live for residential living”!!!!!!
Robert Donnan says
Sharon – Thanks for shedding light on the persistent slant we see in Begos’ AP articles on energy and fracking. He has taken swipes at others who are involved in trying to bring reason and responsibility to drilling, sounding more like an industry shill than a so-called “reporter.” Unfortunately, he went way too far in his bashing of me and the first thing I have done is to file an ethics complaint with his boss, the head of Pennsylvania’s Associated Press. A great editorial piece appeared today in some local papers and as a blog on the Shale Reporter website: “The slippery business of fracking” at http://www.shalereporter.com/blog/suzie_gilbert/article_e1a223d6-34db-11e3-9a84-0019bb30f31a.html