CBS, NBC Mine Tragedy for Business Attack

     Point fingers first. Ask questions later – if you’re the “CBS Evening News.”


     As six miners remained trapped in a Utah coal mine on August 6, CBS attacked the safety of “retreat mining” and questioned whether the mine owners were doing enough.


     “The collapse is also raising questions about the lack of communication with the miners. After the Sago disaster in 2006, Congress reacted with reforms. In what was called the Miner Act, owners were ordered to supply oxygen-filled air packs to every miner, radio locators for emergencies, plus a wireless communication system. Critics though have harshly complained that the deadline for these reforms is too late, June 2009,” said CBS correspondent Wyatt Andrews.


     But Andrews didn’t explain that the Crandall Canyon Mine, owned by Murray Energy Corp., was already on track to comply with these standards.


     “[The owners] are doing what they can to make [the mine] safer,” said Bruce Dial, a former Mine Safety and Health Administration inspector to the Salt Lake City Tribune. “From what I've seen, it appears to me to be relatively safe, compared to what else is around.”


     CBS also left out information about the mine’s past safety. According to experts quoted by ABC “World News with Charles Gibson,” the Crandall Canyon Mine “has a good safety record” and “the accident rate there is half the national average.”


     The Associated Press reported that if the miners are alive, they would have plenty of air because oxygen naturally leaks into the mine according to the chairman of Murray Energy Corp., Robert E. Murray. Murray also said the miners have enough water and oxygen to last several days, 1,500 feet below ground.


     Contrary to the “World News” account, “NBC Nightly News” framed the story to make it seem the Crandall Canyon mine had a track record of safety problems.


     “The federal government recently cited the mine 11 times for various violations,” said NBC correspondent Tom Costello. “Over the past seven years the mine has reported 35 injuries, but no fatalities.”


     But while that may sound bad, the Crandall Canyon mine had an average track record. “It's not perfect but it's certainly not bad," Davitt McAteer, a mine safety expert, said to the Associated Press. “It would be in the medium range.”


     The media quickly blamed mine owners after the 2006 Sago mine disaster, although lightning was later stated to be the cause.