CBS Radio Shills for Fracking in Pennsylvania

From the bullsh*t propaganda department: on August 15th, CBS Radio’s Pittsburgh cluster (KDKA-AM, KDKA-FM, WDSY-FM, and WBZZ-FM) will "host" the Marcellus Shale Festival at an outdoor music venue in town.
This is an event wholly designed to put a happy face on the practice of hydraulic fracturing: the messy process of harvesting natural gas that’s spreading throughout the country. The Marcellus Shale Formation extends throughout seven states and is currently one of the most active areas of hydraulic fracturing in the continental United States. In many respects, Pennsylvania has been the ground zero of Marcellus fracking, where wells have been operating since 2005.
The day-long event features "exhibits" such as a screening of FrackNation, a polemical "documentary" from folks with strong ties to climate-change deniers. FrackNation was produced pretty much explicitly to try and impugn two damning actual documentaries about hydraulic fracturing: Gasland and Gasland 2.
There will also be a "town hall" hosted by KDKA-AM midday host Mike Pintek—the reporter who first broke the Three Mile Island meltdown story in 1979—featuring a fracking industry executive who’s admitted using "psychological operations" against opponents (also a regular guest on KDKA’s own frack-pimping show, The Marcellus Shale Hour) and many of the politicians the industry’s already bought and paid for.
The entire shebang closes out with live country music from The Stickers and Phil Vassar, who may be blissfully unaware of their roles in this charade. The list of sponsors for the "festival" reads like a who’s who of companies involved in fracking the Marcellus Shale to oblivion.
Make no mistake, there’s a long history of coziness between the corporate media and political-economic elites. A decade ago, Clear Channel held "rallies for America" to promote the invasion of Iraq. More contemporarily, witness the dissonance that is MSNBC, where the programming often digs into the cravenly exploitative nature of corporate malfeasants—all sandwiched between barrages of advertising from the natural gas industry and Wal-Mart. It makes for a dizzy viewing experience that sorely compromises the power of the channel’s reportage.
But the "Marcellus Shale Festival" is downright nauseating. CBS, which owns four of the top eight ranked stations in the Pittsburgh market, has effectively organized a day-long propaganda exercise for industrial polluters. Regardless, you can bet that CBS will (in policymaking proceedings and industry press) tout this event as one of its many efforts to "give back" to the communities it "serves."
This may ring somewhat true in cases where broadcasters cosponsor bona-fide community or charity events. But this boondoggle doesn’t even pass that simple smell test. If you’re okay with putting a beneficent face on flammable water and cancer clusters, then I guess this is "festival" for you.
But one thing is crystal clear in Pittsburgh: CBS’ broadcast properties are straight-up shills working in direct contradiction to the public interest, convenience, and necessity.

2 thoughts on “CBS Radio Shills for Fracking in Pennsylvania”

  1. Pintek also hosted an earlier iteration of The Marcellus Shale Hour, billed as “Marcellus Shale and You.” But my guess is Range Resources upped their cashflow to CBS/KDKA to get out of the Saturday AM slot and into weekday prime-time.
    And like a noxious gas, the industry’s influence seeps into programming well outside of the aforementioned program. Even beyond ads (presented as informational announcements, of course), other hosts programs are not so cleverly weaving in pro-Marcellus content and interviews into their programming (Rob Pratte’s “Pittsburgh Works” program, for example).
    Yesterday’s edition of the Marcellus Shale Hour is a perfect example of the rose-tinted ear goggles: the story broke nationally about Range Resources issuing a gag order on a family (including two children) negatively affected by drilling on their property. But what was the topic du jour (at least for the 40 or so minutes that I heard)? Range Resources’ investment in a fleet of natural gas-powered vehicles.
    Clearly, this relationship has been tap dancing on my nerves for months, apologies for the brain dump. But you’ve hit the nail on the head here.

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