NBC/GE, Dylan Ratigan Show, and the Methane Gas-Media Industrial Complex

Yesterday, I published an article for the Center for Media and Democracy’s PRWatch titled, MSNBC’s (GE’s) Dylan Ratigan Show ‘Firewater?’ Series: Natural Gas Industry-Media Complex Exposed.

Among other things, the article lays out the fundamental flaw with NBC’s coverage of anything pertaining to methane gas drilling–they are a “player in that game,” to put it bluntly, with a direct financial interest in the project occurring.

The article then proceeds to discuss, based on that troubling journalistic premise, the “Firewater?” series that took place on the Dylan Ratigan Show from Wed. June 8 through Fri., June 10, revealing all the ways that overarching premise flawed what was pitched as “in-depth coverage,” but in reality, served as a three-day advertising campaign for General Electric and the methane gas industry (an industry GE is a part of).

An excerpt from the article is below:

“While three recent scientific reports – one by Duke University, one by Cornell University, and one by the Post Carbon Institute – point to the latter, Ratigan’s series portrayed the issue as still up for debate, with both sides’ claims having equal merit.

Lest we chalk this up to a typical display of mythical “balanced reporting” by the mass media, it is also important to remember that NBC is owned, in part, by General Electric, alongside Comcast. GE, being a jack of all trades, makes electronics, produces healthcare equipment, manufactures weaponry for war, and designed the nuclear reactors that melted down in recent the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. Furthermore, it maintains an energy wing called GE Energy, which among other things, is on the hunt for methane gas, under a wing called GE Oil and Gas.

Additionally, GE is a water privatizer, having recently attended the 2011 Global Water Summit, whose website’s URL, appropriately enough, is www.WaterMeetsMoney.com. At this point, it is beyond doubt that fracking contaminates drinking water with all sorts of toxic chemicals and carcinogens, including benzene, a known carcinogen.”

The article concludes:

“All this leaves us wondering a few things.

First, last time Ratigan covered methane gas drilling in depth, was it merely a propaganda ploy by GE to promote a product it would profiting off of in the future via the 2011 NAT GAS Act? Was the Dylan Ratigan Show “Steel on Wheels” tour just a long advertising opportunity for GE? And lastly, was production of the “Firewater” series motivated by the energy industry in an under-the-radar push for passage of the NAT GAS Act?The next few weeks will reveal more about how corporate media and policy makers interact on matters of federal energy policy.

The next few weeks will reveal more about how corporate media and policy makers interact on matters of federal energy policy.”

Head over to PRWatch to read the whole story, and stay tuned for more on this subject.


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I was puzzled over Ratigan’s comments to one guest, an environmentalist, who was disparaging the Pickens plan. Ratigan’s dismissive comments struck me as so out of character that I knew something was up. Now I know what.

I generally have a positive feeling towards Ratigan for the issues he addresses but I also have had deep reservations about how he treats economic issues. There’s a faux centrism designed to appeal across the political spectrum but he runs afoul on certain technical economic questions, which appears to show he’s advocating for certain interests while disguising his motives.