State Impact Uses Your Money To Exploit Tragedy

fracking - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.




Fractivism abounds in dastardly deeds, demagoguery and dirty tricks but State Impact took things to a new level with a story exploiting the Amtrak tragedy. 

State Impact, for those of you who don’t recall our earlier story of how this reprehensible news organ is funded, collects money from tax-exempt special interests at the heart of fractivism, including the Allegheny Front (funded by the Heinz Endowments and the Park Foundation) and Essential Public Radio (a trial lawyer PR initiative for all practical purposes), the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation (tobacco fortune funder of Josh Fox), the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation (huge funder of NRDC), the Joyce Foundation (major NRDC funder), Open Society Foundations (George Soros, 7th largest funder of NRDC) and the Wallace Foundation (still another major NRDC funder and sponsor of the CELDF).

It’s also an NPR affiliated enterprise and, therefore, some of your tax money went into its creation, although it claims to now operate without NPR funds, relying instead upon the special interests and two NPR stations, WITF in Harrisburg and WHYY in Philadelphia. Interesting, also, is the fact WITF received $1.1 million in government grants during its last fiscal year, some 19% of its budget and WHYY received $2.6 million in funds from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (roughly 12% of its budget) and money is fungible, which makes me wonder what two US Senators and members of Congress think about how that money was used directly or indirectly to exploit the Amtrak tragedy to make a fractivist point.

What I’m talking about is a scurrilous story by Susan Phillips on State Impact that attempted to use the tragedy to somehow allege fracking could have made it far worse, based on nothing more than a photograph of some tank cars on another rail siding into which the Amtrak cars, after derailing, could, in Phillips imagination, have hit if things had happened differently. Here’s the AP photo she used in the story:

State Impact

AP Photo/Patrick Semansky

She doesn’t know what’s in the cars, doesn’t know whether Amtrak cars could have hit the tank cars, doesn’t know what caused the accident and doesn’t know whether the rail carrier complied or didn’t comply with applicable rules, but manages to use everything she doesn’t know to indict fracking. It’s the epitome of irresponsible journalism. She even went to David Masur of PennEnvironment (funded by some of the same funders as State Impact and probably the guy who suggested the storyline) to get a ridiculous quote saying “This could be just one more in a litany of near misses.” Oddly enough, that’s what I say about his organization’s two fake photo incidents – they were near misses in destroying what little credibility that group has except, of course, with like-minded media folks such as Susan Phillips.

The whole article is in the same tone and ends up with a below the belt hit on API for supposedly opposing that for which Phillips can’t even make a case, except by inventing a scenario based wholly on speculation and things she doesn’t know. Her logic might be compared to blaming airline disasters on the fact jet fuel can be produced from fracked oil, or interstate highway auto crashes on the fact LNG trucks were seen traveling in the other direction. Her speculation, moreover, is akin to saying we had a near miss when the Costa Concordia went down because the captain could just have easily piloted the thing into the path of a tanker ship. It’s insulting to the real victims of the tragedy and diminishes their loss for the sake of making a political point of no substance that ignores the responsibility of the captain and, in this case, Amtrak.

This isn’t journalism. It’s unabashed advocacy using public and special interest dollars at the expense of those experiencing tragedy. Are you proud of this, WITF? Are you proud of this, WHYY? Are you proud of this, Teresa Heinz Kerry?

Sadly, I don’t think any of these folks give a damn. They’re totally indifferent to the plight of others because they’re so self-absorbed in their own utopian fantasies and self-images as the enlightened. Perhaps our Federal legislators will feel differently. Are you proud of this, Senator Casey? Are you proud of this, Senator Toomey?

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2 thoughts on “State Impact Uses Your Money To Exploit Tragedy

  1. Between reporters just using activists for all their information as well as sometimes fact-free reporting (which happened multiple times across many different news publications with both the rockaway project and port ambrose) to reporters refusing to make corrections etc, to this sensationalism, there is clearly a problem reporting on this issue. The issue extends beyond fracking to all natural gas projects and then on to other fossil fuel projects as well.

    The activists may claim that their right to speak is being curtailed–however the reality is often just the opposite– the only voices being amplified in many places are their own.

    There is clearly a movement to stop all natural gas production, ban fracking and then transport as there is with other fuels. Whether it is disrupting a meeting with song, inundating a docket or using hearings for things other than the hearing is intended, staged acts of civil disobedience etc there is clearly a pattern and it is acknowledged by the activists.

    The question then is why the reporting often completely ignores this? The reporters may not be aware but I have personally seen that even when told repeatedly they still don’t change their reporting. We are years and years into this at this point. Here is Ms. Phillips reporting on an environmental appeal over the cove point project:

    “Ryan Talbott, an attorney and executive director of the Allegheny Defense Project, says he wasn’t surprised by FERC’s decision.

    “One of the problems with FERC’s environmental analysis, and every analysis they do whether it’s for compressor stations or pipelines, is it’s all being done to develop to Marcellus and Utica shales,” said Talbott. “Under federal law they have an obligation to consider the cumulative effects.”

    Clearly organized environmental groups are in opposition to the Cove Point project and to fracking. However totally not accurate in any way that all of FERC’s environmental analysis is being done to develop Marcellus and Utica Sales. The agency sees applications for projects all over the country. And another story.

    The activist in the first story stated that he thinks FERC “is a captured agency.” This is a theme– FERC is a rogue agency, etc. What it seems like though is the reporters are the ones “captured.” The narrative they tell sometimes appears to be written for them by activists or it is culled from other news sources, etc. Errors compound over time.

    It’s been 3 years and a few months since I first saw news that the bill the rockaway project required had passed in the House. In that time I have seen some of the most astonishing things in the news and also on activists social media, sites, flyers, hearings etc.

    For years now as the wall street journal article accurately states, the port ambrose project has been a “proxy” about fracking. And it doesn’t matter if it is an independent or alternative news paper, there are all kinds of news organizations that refuse to do their own research, do any fact checking etc.

    The reporting is awful. It is not just biased. It is often also completely inacurrate as well.

  2. But the antis WOULDN’T blame airline disasters on the fact that jet fuel can be produced from fracked oil, or do anything else to bash airline travel. One of the things that you, Mr. Shepstone, and them have in common is that burning up a bunch of jet fuel is obviously the favorite long-distance travel mode of ALL those who write articles about Amtrak travelers’ “near misses” with oil trains and fail to note – as I can from just my latest Amtrak trip out west – that these “near misses” with oil trains happen within 3 feet, at closing speeds of 120+ mph, multiple times per day (often multiple times per HOUR!), with NO PROBLEMS!

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