Energy

PAPER: Media Treats Eco-Terrorists Like Rock Stars

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Chris White Tech Reporter

The media’s favorable treatment of eco-terrorists leaves a black mark on journalism, according to one energy analyst who works in a city where activism is second nature to its people.

Reporters should remove their blinders and look more objectively at people who work to sabotage oil pipelines and tear up infrastructure, Seattle-based analyst Todd Myers wrote Thursday in a National Review editorial. “In many ways, the media treat them like rock stars,” he added, noting how activists have managed to cajole favorable coverage from reporters.

“When reporters treat firebombing as a conversation starter rather than a crime, can anyone be surprised that conservatives believe environmental policy to be the domain of the slightly deranged?” Myers wrote, referring to reasons why some people are skeptical about climate change, among other environmental issues. Reporters’ bias toward a juicy narrative is proving their downfall, he said.

The media’s refusal to stay non-biased is not new, but they are using their bias to protect extremists, Myers said — Washington Policy Center’s environmental department head in Seattle. “What is disturbing is that previous boundaries, such as refusing to use vandalism and arson as an excuse to talk about public policy, are crossed without even a glib recognition,” he added.

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It makes sense why reporters are starry-eyed, according to Myers. “Bold activists, however, who take action, risking prison time for a larger ideal, are appealing,” so it’s “easy to wash away questions about their behavior,” he said, adding: but the media must become soberer about how they approach these stories.

Myers referenced a February The New York Times Magazine article that appeared to lionize acts of terrorism. The NYT Magazine spoke glowingly of Seattle activist Michael Foster’s decision to engage in direct action against pipelines.

Foster was convicted in October of conspiracy and reckless endangerment after cutting through a chain link fence and turning a shut-off valve on the Keystone Pipeline to protest against the Dakota Access pipeline. His behavior before that point had a profoundly negative effect on his children.

“The language used by the reporter is wistful,” Myers said about the outlet’s treatment of Foster. “Describing the moment Michael Foster prepared to shut off the pipeline, The Times reporter gushes, ‘What Foster didn’t expect was that once he’d broken through the chain link fence, he would be briefly overwhelmed by the magnitude of what he was about to do. He faced away from the biting wind and allowed himself to cry.'”

Myers even criticized the reporter’s use of a photo that made Foster and other activists look like knights in shining armor. “The photo accompanying the piece shows five members of the group standing next to a creek, looking off into the distance like an indie-rock album cover,” he said. “In many ways, the media treat them like rock stars.”

Foster might “honor the judge and the jury and their verdict” rather than appealing the conviction, he told reporters shortly after his conviction. The effort to shut down the line likely did nothing to prevent global warming, Foster claimed.

“It’s been a year, and pollution is worse today than the day I turned the Keystone valve shut,” Foster said. He faces up to 21 years in prison for his action. “Based on that alone, I wonder how effective it was. If people don’t respond quickly (to climate change), it won’t matter,” he added.

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