'World News' Portrays Businessman as Carbon Abuser

Editor’s Note: On May 10, 2007 Business & Media Institute wrote that “World News with Charles Gibson” hypocritically reported on two individuals’ carbon footprints, by presumably flying its crew to San Francisco for the segment. Recently, BMI spoke with Mr. Oppenheim and heard his complaints about the ABC report.


     Daniel Oppenheim is a San Francisco businessman who runs The Urban Safari, a unique tour of the city using vintage Land Rovers, but viewers wouldn’t have gotten that impression from ABC. That’s just one piece of a story that made Oppenheim says made him look bad simply for running a business.


     On May 9, “World News with Charles Gibson” compared Oppenheim’s carbon footprint to that of another San Francisco resident Peter Boyer whom they described as an “energy conservationist.” In contrast, Oppenheim was labeled a “Land Rover lover.”


     Boyer was clearly the favorite of ABC for his use of solar panels and hybrid car, but Oppenheim was misrepresented.


     “Daniel loves, owns and drives a vintage Land Rover. Like so many of us, he knows that’s a problem,” said Charles Gibson without explaining that Oppenheim’s Land Rover is used for his business – giving guided tours of San Francisco.


     The opportunity to have “The Urban Safari” named on network news was in fact the reason Oppenheim agreed to do the show, but the business didn’t get mentioned in the broadcast or the online version.


     “World News” did present a vehicle comparison saying, “Oppenheim’s Land Rover produces 3,771 pounds of carbon in the atmosphere every year. Boyer’s Prius – 441 pounds.”


     But since Oppenheim gives tours for a living that is far from an honest comparison. He told BMI that his Land Rovers are generally full of passengers when he uses them making them more efficient than “World News” let on. When not working, Oppenheim actually drives a Volvo that gets 22 to 25 miles per gallon.


     He also said the ABC report misinformed viewers about the size of his home, though the producer took a tour beforehand.


     “Oppenheim’s one-bedroom home produces [11,600 lbs. per year] almost the same amount of carbon as Boyer’s four-bedroom home [14,575 lbs per year],” said Gibson as the screen graphic labeled each person’s carbon output.


     But according to Oppenheim, he lives in a four-bedroom home just like Boyer does. So while “World News” praised the green choices of Boyer, Oppenheim’s similar home actually had a smaller carbon footprint without the solar panels and “squiggly” light bulbs.


     “World News” declined to comment on this story.