CNN's Sanchez Blasts America First, Asks Questions Later in Chevron/Ecuador Dispute

If MSNBC is the “place for liberal politics,” CNN is the place for latent America bashing, especially its corporations.


On his Oct. 22 CNN program, Rick Sanchez wore his American guilt like a badge of honor and said he wasn’t going to stand for America to look bad because of what a corporation had been accused of doing, in this case Chevron (NYSE:CVX), whether they did it or not.


“We do a lot of this, and I’m glad you like it,” Sanchez said. “What we do is we try and connect with what's going on in our hemisphere, this is important. In this case, how it is that often time our image as Americans – this is never a good thing – can be sullied by the behavior of an – of an American corporation abroad. And then they end up not representing us well.”


In the segment, named “Conexion,” Sanchez demanded someone take “responsibility” for the environmental disaster in Ecuador and said the pollution had caused “more than 1,000” deaths from cancer.


“This case, big oil on one side, people who say their land is being savaged or has been savaged for profit on the other. This is what we call this segment, ‘Conexion,’” Sanchez said. “All right. Let me set this one up for you. It goes back a couple of years. Texaco, the mighty oil giant, drilled for oil in Ecuador for years and years, partners with a state oil company there. Fast forward to today. The people who live in those oil field areas say that their environment is trashed and more than 1,000 people are dead from cancer. They say it's Texaco's fault and they want it cleaned up. They want damages. They want somebody held accountable. They want somebody to take responsibility for this.”


However, as Michel Kelsh, a health researcher and professor at UCLA’s School of Public Health and Chevron consultant discovered, there’s no evidence this had created a spike in cancer.


But to bolster the case against Chevron, Sanchez featured Kerry Kennedy, liberal activist and daughter of Robert F. Kennedy, Sr. Kennedy who went directly after Chevron on CNN “Newsroom.”


“You know, this is Chevron’s Chernobyl,” Kennedy said. “It is the biggest corporate environmental disaster on the face of the earth, in the history of the world. It's the size of Rhode Island, the area that they polluted, and you go into that rain forest, and the eeriest thing is you don't hear a sound. There are no birds, there are no monkeys. There are no animals, ‘cause they’re all dead.”


And Kennedy made other unsubstantiated allegations against Texaco, now part of Chevron, which not only made the company look bad on an international cable network, but reflected poorly on the entire country – which went unchallenged by Sanchez.


“We heard terrible stories about women being raped by Texaco uh, employees, about Texaco employees taking a shaman two mountain ranges away and dropping him off and seeing if he could walk home,” Kennedy added. “Telling people that, indigenous people that if they rub oil on their hair, that their hair will grow longer and thicker. I mean that, it’s disgusting what happened to these people.”


Sanchez did provide a voice from the other side with interviewee Silvia Garrigo. But Garrigo, manager of Global Issues and Policy of Chevron, did not get to immediately follow-up on Kennedy’s claims or interject at all while she was speaking. Instead, viewers had to wait until after a commercial break to hear her defense of Chevron.


Garrigo said, “For the past 10 years, the government-owned oil company has exclusively operated the fields – the fields that Miss Kennedy saw when she was recently in the Amazon … The second thing that your viewers also need to know Rick, is that the health claims are absolutely and patently false.” She said the health claims had been thrown out of court by a California judge as “fabricated.”


In 1998, the government of Ecuador certified that Texpet, a minority partner in an exploration and production venture with PetroEcuador, Ecuador’s state-owned oil company, had met Ecuadorian and international remediation standards and had released Texpet from future claims and obligations. Texpet had cleaned up more than 100 sites in the area as part of that effort, leaving the remainder to PetroEcuador for cleanup.


Nonetheless, a suit led by Steven Donzinger, a New York lawyer, Democrat contributor and former Harvard Law School classmate of President Barack Obama, against Texaco (now part of Chevron) has been championed by several left-wing environmental groups and activists, including Kennedy.

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