Media Matters for America (MMfA) sent an email yesterday, likely in error, to the office of Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK)--hardly a regular recipient of MMfA spam--attempting to coordinate Democratic opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline that was recently blocked by the Obama administration.
[caption id="attachment_416608" align="aligncenter" width="496" caption="Photo: National Post (Canada) / Andrew Harrer / Bloomberg"]
The email apparently targeted staff from the Senate's Committee on Environment and Public Works, and recipients included staff working for Sen. Inhofe as Ranking Member, apparently in error. (Sen. Inhofe is an ardent supporter of the Keystone pipeline and has objected vehemently
to President Barack Obama's decision to prevent it from moving forward.)
The fact that MMfA's email was, atypically, sent to Republican staffers might suggest a gesture at bipartisan outreach--except that the email was explicitly addressed to congressional "allies" on an issue where Republicans have shown unusually strong unity, and the opposition, such as it is, has come from Democrats and the White House. (Last year, the House of Representatives passed
a bill supporting the Keystone pipeline with Republicans favoring the project 232-3, and Democrats opposing it 144-47.)
The email announces that Media Matters aims to assist fellow opponents of the Keystone XL pipeline (i.e. congressional Democrats) based on the premise that the media has focused on the jobs the project could create, and not on the potential downsides of the pipeline:
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 09:11 PM
Subject: Heads up - MMFA study on media coverage of KXL out tomorrow
I wanted to flag that MMFA will be putting out a major, quantitative report on media coverage of KXL tomorrow morning.
The study will be similar to our EPA counting study (http://mediamatters.org/research/201106070010) -- and will drill home the point the media bought right into Big Oil’s desired frame on KXL, focusing largely on the (inflated) number of jobs that could be created, without paying due attention to the many other important issues at stake. (Ranchers’ land, spills, climate change, etc.)
We are hoping for a big media splash, but – more importantly – we’re hoping that allies will be able to leverage it to gain favorable coverage.
I’ve pasted a very brief summary below – and will be sure to send along the final study as soon as it’s up. If you have any questions, please let me know.
All the best,
STUDY: The Press And The Pipeline
A Media Matters analysis shows that as a whole, news coverage of the Keystone XL pipeline between August 1 and December 31 favored pipeline proponents. Although the project would create few long-term employment opportunities, the pipeline was primarily portrayed as a jobs issue. Pro-pipeline voices were quoted more frequently than those opposed, and dubious industry estimates of job creation were uncritically repeated 5 times more often than they were questioned. Meanwhile, concerns about the State Department's review process and potential environmental consequences were often overlooked, particularly by television outlets.
Media Matters is a 501(c)(3) organization, meaning it is exempt from paying taxes on earnings, but must also obey Internal Revenue Service (IRS) restrictions
on political and lobbying activity.
Under IRS requirements, MMfA would likely be able to provide its research to legislators, but not to coordinate with political "allies" to "gain favorable coverage" on legislation still pending before Congress
so that such legislation might be defeated and those allies might benefit from greater exposure.
What MMfA is doing on the Keystone XL pipeline issue goes far beyond its stated purpose
of "comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media." It is explicitly using its purported "analysis" to provide "leverage" to "allies" in Congress with the intent of achieving narrow partisan and legislative goals.
MMfA has the right to be wrong on the merits of the Keystone XL pipeline. But everyone else, as taxpayers, has the right to demand that it pay its fare share.