Newsbusters reports that between Jan. 1, 2010, and April 30, 2013, there were 36 broadcast network news reports about the practice of natural gas fracking. Of those 36 reports, 18 of them either “mentioned or cited 3a anti-fracking film], or included a famous opponent of fracking.”
This is why Hollywood frequently makes agenda-driven films and documentaries that they know will lose money. The producers consider the films loss-leaders that serve a bigger goal of shaping the national political debate. Hollywood knows that whatever the issue — be it bullying, same-sex marriage, and attack on the Catholic Church, or opposition to fracking — if the message is left-wing, the media will award them all kinds of free publicity and use their product to push the preferred agenda.
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The network news media consider hydraulic fracturing for oil and/or natural gas to be very “controversial,” even though fracturing has been going on since 1947 and there were 514,637 producing gas wells in 2011, according to the EIA. The number of fracked oil and gas wells in U.S. history is well over 1 million.
Still, ABC, CBS and NBC news have focused a lot of their attention on Hollywood and celebrity criticism of the practice that has seen a resurgence thanks to horizontal drilling.
In addition to “GasLand,” an independent anti-fracking movie called “Split Estate” and Matt Damon’s movie “Promised Land” have been talked about on broadcast network news programming since Jan. 1, 2010. “Split Estate” is so obscure that BoxOfficeMojo, a website that tracks box office sales and rankings, doesn’t list it.
Other celebrities like Yoko Ono and Sean Lennon have also been interviewed about their anti-fracking campaign, without rebuttal from the other side. A full 50 percent of networks news stories (18 of 36) in that time that talked about fracking mention one of those movies, or included a celebrity or artist on the subject. In contrast, an independent film called “Fracknation” that highlighted local support for “fracking” and challenged some of the claims made in Fox’s film called was not even mentioned once those news reports.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC