Using News Stories To Shape Public Opinion

Today’s Wall Street Journal posted an editorial that clearly shows how the major news media uses the way they report (or not report) stories to shape public opinion.

On Friday it was discovered that an old Exxon Mobil pipeline near Mayflower, Arkansas, was leaking. No one said exactly how much oil had leaked, but Exxon responded with enough people and equipment to handle as much as 10,000 barrels and had the flow stopped and cleanup begun by early Saturday. This event made the headlines–the major media used the leak as an example of the tragedy that would occur if the Keystone Pipeline were built. Well, wait a minute.

Last week a Canadian Pacific Railway train derailed in western Minnesota. The train was carrying crude oil and spilled up to 30,000 gallons. The spill was larger than the leak in Arkansas and took place near a town. The media somehow didn’t bother to cover the story.

The Wall Street Journal goes on to say that in 2008 U. S. railways transported 9,500 carloads of oil. In 2012 that number jumped to 233,811. There were 112 railroad oil spills from 2010 to 2012. From 2006 to 2009, there were 10 oil spills. Pipelines have fewer incidents per mile than rail cars.

Two of the things to keep in mind as the Keystone Pipeline remains in limbo are the fact that the Canadian oil is going to be shipped somewhere–either to America or China and that the person who is profiting by not building the pipeline is Warren Buffett (see rightwinggranny.com). One of the railroads that is in boom times because there is no Keystone Pipeline is Burlington Northern Santa Fe, owned by Warren Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway. As usual, the discussion of the Keystone Pipeline is not really about the environment–it is about the money.

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The Government Gives, The Government Takes Away

A website called fight the bias attributes the following quote to Thomas Jefferson:

“Government big enough to supply everything you need is big enough to take everything you have … The course of history shows that as a government grows, liberty decreases.”

There are similar quotes attributed to Gerald Ford and others, but Thomas Jefferson seems to have understood the concept originally. We are seeing this statement in action in a current court battle between EXXON and the American government. Today’s Wall Street Journal reports that EXXON filed a suit against the Department of the Interior last week in Lake Charles, Louisiana. EXXON is fighting to maintain control of what is called the Julia field after a routine extension of leases was not approved.

The article reports:

The possibility that Exxon could lose this oil will likely send shock waves through the industry. “This is unprecedented,” said Amy Myers Jaffe, associate director of the Energy Program at Rice University in Houston. “The question is: Do our offshore rules allow for flexibility? You don’t want to let companies sit on a discovery…We definitely don’t want to send the industry a message that you need to be in a rush or we’ll take the oil away from you.”

Exxon’s lawsuit said the government has granted “thousands” of extensions over time. It said the government’s denial of its extension relied on legal interpretations that it “had never before applied and had never before articulated.” Statoil asserted in its lawsuit that no request for an extension for a deep-water development “had ever previously been denied.” The Interior Department couldn’t comment on this.

This is another example of how government policy impacts unemployment. The Department of Interior has changed their policies abruptly. How do businesses deal with future planning when the rules change in the middle of the game?


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