CBS Report Mirrors Left-Wing Group’s Pipeline Press Release

Hard to tell difference between what liberal organization says and what CBS says about TransCanada.

Since TransCanada proposed building the Keystone XL Pipeline in 2009, liberal actors, environmentalists, and the media have attacked the plan. Four years later, the media continue to work against the company that proposed building it, TransCanada and this time they had help.

On Nov.12, CBS “Evening News” did a segment on repairs being made by TransCanada to the recently built section of the Keystone Pipeline. That story was essentially a copycat summary of a report released that day from the anti-pipeline group, Public Citizen. CBS not only relied on the group as its only experts in the matter, but also interviewed the same farmer and former TransCanada employee cited in the group’s report.

The key interviews came from David Whitley, a Texas farmer whose property covers part of the Keystone pipeline, and Evan Vokes, the former TransCanada engineer whose public complaints got him fired in 2006. Whitley and Vokes, unsurprisingly, had negative opinions of the Keystone Pipeline and TransCanada’s maintenance of it. 

Whitley told the same story to CBS that he told to Public Citizen, of TransCanada digging up his property in May to patch up leaks in the pipe. The two are extremely similar:

Public Citizen Press Release

One day in mid-May, Whitley saw a section of excavated pipe marked with the words “Dent, cut out” on the ground next to a trench where pipe was being replaced.


Whitley took video of the section they dug up. It had been laid on top of a massive rock. Workers wrote, "Dented, Cut Out."

There was more:

Public Citizen

Whitley: “You’d think they’d build this pipeline right the first time, but now what’s happening makes me worry about how safe this pipeline will really be.”


Whitley: “Well when I saw that, I thought they should have done a better job when they first laid the pipe about getting rid of that rock.”

Vokes, incidentally, worked in conjunction with Public Citizen for its pipeline report. He also complained to CBS that TransCanada patching dents in the pipe meant that the pipe was not properly constructed to begin with.

Public Citizen, founded by Ralph Nader in 1971, calls itself an “advocate” for “the people” and “the countervailing force to corporate power.” ABC, CBS, and NBC have routinely used the liberal organization as one of their experts, calling it a “consumer advocacy group” or “watchdog group,” effectively concealing its left-wing leanings and founder. The group is notoriously anti-free market and in the past has gone after the banking industry, the pharmaceutical industry, the auto industry, and the coal industry for not having enough regulations.

This is not the first time the networks have basically lifted a press release from Public Citizen and used it as a “news story” either. In 2006, ABC cited Public Citizen as its choice expert who then warned of the pipeline’s skimpy maintenance.


— Kristine Marsh is Staff Writer for MRC Culture at the Media Research Center. Follow Kristine Marsh on Twitter.