‘Rock Center’ Blames America, and Texaco in Anti-Oil Tirade

NBC pits tribes in ‘paradise’ against Ecuador’s government, U.S. and American oil company.

Ecuadorian villagers are upset and ready to fight to protect their rainforest homeland, from the government of Ecuador which has “launched a new oil boom,” according to NBC’s Ann Curry. But Curry turned this battle into an attack on the U.S. and Texaco, now owned by Chevron.

In a 10 minute 16 second segment on “Rock Center” May 3, Curry spoke of the plight of villagers who “fear [oil drilling] will destroy life as they know it.” She interviewed tribal people, a Boston University biologist, an anti-oil activist involved in a lawsuit against Chevron and an anti-oil government official. The only voice on the other side was the Vice President of Ecuador, Lenin Moreno.

Curry didn’t just use the segment to paint the Ecuadorian government as exploiters, but actually used the situation to criticize Americans and Texaco. She said that “our role” is that the United States has been a top importer of Ecuador’s oil for years. Curry then talked to Kelly Swing, a Boston University professor who said “we’re definitely guilty in this story” and that “U.S. citizens are at least a portion of the problem here” because we consume oil to make plastics, fuel our cars and heat our homes.

She also interviewed Donald Moncayo, “an anti-oil activist” who is part of the “massive, multi-billion lawsuit against Texaco, now owned by Chevron.” Curry failed to mention news that broke in April about that lawsuit. The New York Times reported on April 12, 2013, that “an American consulting firm [involved in the suit] now recanting research favorable to the villagers’ claims of pollution in remote tracts of jungle.”

The consulting company is now saying that it was misled by Steven R. Donziger, a lawyer for the Ecuadorian villagers, and was disavowing its research. The weekend that story broke, all three broadcast networks ignored it, in spite of past anti-Chevron coverage of the lawsuit.

There was no defender of Chevron included in the story; Curry merely stated: “Chevron says it cleaned up its share of polluted sites, that those sites now pose no significant health risks, and the Ecuadorian-run oil company assumed responsibility for any remaining contamination.“

Pieces of Curry’s “Rock Center” report which included blame for the U.S. also aired on NBC’s “Today” and “Nightly News” May 3.