Journalists Contribute to Power Gridlock

     Sweltering heat is sweeping the nation, ushering in fears that the “slammed” power grid won’t be able to meet the demands of consumers desperate to keep cool.


     But as much as journalists now focus on that threat, they have largely ignored nationwide power issues while rabid environmentalists have battled nuclear and coal power plants.


     Even as recently as June when President Bush was promoting nuclear power, CNN’s Brianna Keilar attacked the prospect from the left saying, “at least one nuclear watchdog group says they don’t believe that this facility should even be operational.”


    But CNN didn’t stop there. Anchor Don Lemon tried to scare viewers: “Brianna, you’re awfully close to all the controls there. You could just turn around and flip a switch and who knows what would happen.”


     The media have been flipping the switch to off. Journalists have been on a green kick since before “An Inconvenient Truth,” hyping “Live Earth,” cooing over Al Gore, even pressuring him to run for president, and buying into global warming hysteria. NBC and its affiliates even devoted 75 hours of airtime to cover the “global warming awareness”  Live Earth concerts July 7, which included opposition to coal and nuclear power.


     “There’s global warming pollution, principally CO2, from burning coal, burning oil, and burning gasoline … And that’s causing radical changes that we have to stop causing,” said former vice president Al Gore on NBC’s “Today” July 5.


     Gore, who gets plenty of airtime from the news media, asked all “Live Earth” attendees and viewers to sign his seven-point pledge, which includes this anti-coal power proposition:


     “To fight for a moratorium on the construction of any new generating facility that burns coal without the capacity to safely trap and store the CO2.”


     Gore and his eco-extremist brethren would oppose increasing the power supply with any source that creates carbon emissions. But even when a “clean” alternative is presented such as nuclear power, many of the enviros still argue against it, and get some help from the news media discouraging it as an alternative by spreading fear and relying on the arguments of left-wing groups.


     Still, news shows are worried about blackouts. ABC’s “Good Morning America,” CNN’s “American Morning,” CBS “Evening News” and others have reported on the prospect.


     “[California] in their fourth day of that heat, and it’s reminding them of the 11 record-breaking days of last year that they had that – slammed the power grid and also killed an awful lot of people out there. They’re beginning to wonder if it could happen again,” said GMA’s Sam Champion on July 6.


     CNN’s Jim Acosta explained on “American Morning” that energy analysts are very concerned if new power plants are not built:


     “[T]he next crisis is looming unless the nation starts building new power plants within five to seven years. Energy analysts fear the return of the blackout of ’03,” said Acosta on July 9.


‘Black Gold or Black Death’?


     America could be the Saudi Arabia of coal. But new coal plants are met with attacks from environmentalists and journalists. TXU Corp.’s plans to build 11 coal-fired power plants in Texas resulted in a 1,750-word attack in the Nov. 7, 2006, New York Times.


     Reporter Matthew L. Wald accused the firm of taking part in “an emerging environmental catastrophe,” and didn’t cite a single company representative until nearly the 1,000-word mark.


     Instead, Wald relied on criticism from left-wing environmental groups like Public Citizen, the Pew Center on Global Climate Change and the Natural Resources Defense Council. TXU was also slammed by Fortune magazine in February 2007 for “staking its future” on the “dirtiest of all fuels.”


     NBC’s Brian Williams condemned coal in 2002 for playing a part in climate change.


     “When did scientists first suspect that global warming might result from human activities? The answer: way back in 1896, the first theory that emissions from coal burning would lead to global warming. And here we are 106 years later still fighting about it,” Williams said on “Nightly News” Apr. 22, 2002.


     “CBS Evening News” even passed off coal industry critic Jeff Goodell as an unbiased “expert” shortly before he released his anti-coal book: “Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future.” Bob Schieffer didn’t inform CBS viewers about the book in the Jan. 3, 2006, broadcast. The next day, Jan. 4, Goodell ran an op/ed in The New York Times entitled “Black Gold or Black Death.”


Nuclear Industry Powerless to Grow


     The Three Mile Island nuclear accident occurred on March 28, 1979. Though not a single person was killed as a result and none has died from radiation, no new nuclear plants have been built in the United States in the 28 years since.


     Later that same year, a series of concerts bore the title “No Nukes” – bringing together left-wing performers like Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen. Just like the Live Earth events, those were more about policy than performance. That same anti-nuclear presence could also be found at Live Earth – mostly among the Australian bands some of whom wore T-shirts that read “Say no to nuclear energy.”


     Ironically, nuclear energy offers an emissions-free alternative. Some environmentalists support it, including Greenpeace co-founder Patrick Moore, but many do not. And even when reporters have something positive to say about nuclear power, they offset it with worries about the danger.


     “Could you imagine a bigger target for terrorists?” Jim Axelrod asked in a Feb. 1, 2006, story about nuclear power plants. At least Axelrod noted that nuclear is an emissions-free power source.


     “Nightly News” anchor Brian Williams also reminded viewers of Three Mile Island and Chernobyl saying, “to a lot of Americans of a certain generation, the mere mention of a nuclear power plant for some dredges up images of disaster and danger.” That was on June 22, 2005.


      Media opposition to nuclear power has a long history. In 1985, ABC preempted evening coverage to present a three-hour program called “The Fire Unleashed” which treated nuclear weapons and nuclear power as “malevolent Siamese Twins,” according to the book “The Media Elite” by S. Robert Lichter, Stanley Rothman and Linda S. Lichter.


What’s Left?


     The Department of Energy projects that by 2025, the U.S. will need 50 percent more power than in 2003, but without coal and nuclear power options, what is left? Not much.


     Wind and solar power are both hyped by the media and promoted by greens, but even radical environmentalist Robert F. Kennedy Jr. (as well as his uncle Senator Ted Kennedy, D-Mass.) was anti-wind power when it came to his “backyard.” According to an environmental publication, RFK Jr. has been “an outspoken opponent” of the wind-power project off Nantucket Sound.


     Solar power is too expensive for ordinary Americans. One solar-hydrogen powered house, praised by The Christian Science Monitor as “utopian,” cost $500,000 – but New Jersey taxpayers shouldered half the burden through a grant.


     And even hydroelectric power – a renewable energy source – gets condemned by the greens, who have sought dam removals across the country because they care more about fish than electricity for humans. A BMI study found that ABC, CBS and NBC ignored that story altogether in 13 months of coverage, ignoring the hypocrisy of the environmentalists in question.