Monday, February 18, 2013

More Adventures in "Objectivity"

Re: "Obama Faces Risks in Pipeline Decision," The New York Times, 02/18/2013.

Photo from the New York Times.

This story is a prime example of how the corporate media routinely mislead the public by carefully obscuring the truth through the lens of journalistic "objectivity."

Based on the article's "he-said-she-said" structure, wherein every issue must have two unambiguously opposing sides, readers are left with the impression that President Obama opposes the construction of the Keystone XL oil pipeline. In fact, passages depicting Obama's possible support for the pipeline as a "betrayal" and a "contradiction of [his] make controlling climate change a top priority for his second term," in the eyes of environmental groups like the Sierra Club, lead one to believe the president actively campaigned against the proposed pipeline.

Unfortunately, neither could be further from the truth.

Quite the reverse, Obama praised the wonders of "clean" coal, natural gas, nuclear power and domestic oil drilling during last fall's presidential "debates."

Earlier, in last year's State of the Union address, Obama described his energy policy as an "all-out, all-of-the-above strategy that develops every available source of American energy." That strikes me as an "everything-on-the-table" position not all that far removed from the Republican soundbite-speak of, "Drill baby, drill!" Likewise, both recently departed Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and her replacement, Massachusetts Senator John Kerry have been vetted by pipeline corporation, TransCanada in support of the project.

Yes, Obama rather surprisingly delayed the decision on the Keystone pipeline last year. But he has never actively opposed the pipeline as the article implies.

And therein lies the genius of "objective" journalism: It allows the reporter to distort, or outright falsify the facts, without technically "lying" per se. By conveniently ignoring Obama's expressed support for the aforementioned dirty energy sources (coal, nuclear, gas, etc.), and by warning of his potentially "alienating" groups like Sierra Club that "overwhelmingly supported his candidacy," the story's authors (it took three reporters to write it, apparently) imply the president is in the environmentalists' camp and, therefore, firmly opposed to the Keystone project.

Sierra Club executive director, Michael Brune's comment expressing his confidence Obama will, in fact, oppose the TransCanada deal, further adds to the impression that he is against the pipeline.

I wish I shared Mr. Brune's confidence. Unfortunately, his blind faith strikes me as delusional as both it and this story, clash with the verifiable objectivity of reality.

For more on the issues of tar sands, the Keystone XL Pipeline, and Sunday's massive march in Washington D.C., I refer readers to the following links:

The Punk Patriot, "Tar Sands and Accountability."

Guerrilla Press: "The Threat in Our Own Backyard."

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