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Analysis: Media Coverage of Keystone XL Has Been Wildly Biased in Favor of the Pipeline

2 min. read

MediaMatters for America has looked at coverage of the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline, and not surprisingly (but sadly), they find that "the media continue to largely ignore the risk of an oil spill, while promoting the economic benefits of the project." A few key findings from MediaMatters' research:

  • "Television outlets overlooked the threat of Keystone XL to sensitive ecosystems, mentioning the risk of a spill in just 20 percent of coverage since Election Day, November 6, 2012."
  • "Fox News and the WSJ rarely mentioned -- and often denied -- Keystone XL's climate impact. Only 17 percent of Fox News coverage and 19 percent of Wall Street Journal coverage mentioned climate concerns without explicitly dismissing them."
  • "Fox News Featured Five Times More Supporters Of Keystone XL. 76 percent of those hosted or quoted about Keystone XL on Fox supported the project, and only 13 percent opposed it."
  • "Scientists Were Shut Out Of Pipeline Debate. The media's focus on climate risks associated with the pipeline has increased significantly: climate change was mentioned in 38 percent of television coverage (up from only 9 percent in 2011) and 57 percent of print coverage (up from 34 percent). Despite this, scientists accounted for less than 1 percent of those hosted or quoted by TV outlets and less than 4 percent of those quoted by the major papers."

Of course, the reality is that Keystone XL won't reduce gasoline prices, but according to a new report will actually "increase gas prices for Americans, contradicting claims by pipeline proponents." As if that's not bad enough, ClimateProgress reports that "the project will only bring 35 permanent jobs," and that "the pipeline will carry and emit 181 million metric tons of CO2 every year...more than 37.7 million cars or 51 coal plants."  Yet is the media reporting any of this? According to MediaMatters' analysis, the answer is "overwhelmingly not."