A Government Land Grab the Media Can Love

A Government Land Grab the Media Can Love
ABC News casts Wal-Mart as Goliath when town tries to seize its land, but Kelo ruling works against little guys, too.

By Ken Shepherd
Business & Media Institute
May 25, 2006

     ABCs World News Tonight presented a small California citys efforts to seize privately-owned property as a David versus Goliath struggle with the city in the role of David.

     Yet nowhere in its reporting did ABC raise questions about governments abuse of power -- or the fact that the Wal-Mart whose land was being grabbed was just like any individual city resident when it comes to eminent domain.

     Hercules, California still doesnt have a Wal-Mart and it doesnt want one, anchor Elizabeth Vargas informed viewers of the May 24 World News Tonight as she set up correspondent Brian Rooneys report entitled People v. Wal-Mart.

     Last night during a sometimes raucous meeting, the city council voted unanimously to take Wal-Marts land by power of eminent domain, the right to take private property for public use, Rooney reported.

     Wal-Mart simply was not welcome in Hercules, Rooney added, noting that the 17 acres Wal-Mart owns are instead envisioned by the city for new homes and new buildings with an old look: apartments upstairs and offices, stores, and restaurants on the ground floor.

     Simply put, the city of Hercules plans on capitalizing on the Supreme Courts precedent in Kelo v. New London. That high court ruling justified local governments seizing private property, even private residences, to turn over to other private developers. ABCs Rooney described it as a nervy move by the city, which could become a battle, Hercules against the giant. The giant retailer.

     After Rooney signed off, Vargas quipped that the story was maybe more David versus Goliath.

     Yet nowhere in his report did Rooney mention that the Kelo ruling could be used not only to fell corporate giants but also the little guy as was the case in Kelo.

     Simply put, the same residents Rooney showed cheering their citys Wal-Mart land grab could one day be jeering their citys designs on their own houses or businesses.

     The Business & Media Institute has previously documented media attacks on Wal-Mart.