NY Times Bungles Keystone Debate (Again)

More Democrats are starting to shift towards supporting the controversial Keystone pipeline, reports Jennifer Steinhauer in the New York Times (4/20/12). The media discussion has leaned heavily in favor of the project, so perhaps this is no surprise. And this report is no exception.

The political fight over Keystone has a lot to do with how the story is framed. Take this paragraph from Steinhauer:

With gas prices sticking near $4 a gallon, unemployment high in many states and demonstrable support for the project in numerous polls, many Democrats–especially those from states where pipelines are commonplace–are beginning to sound almost indistinguishable from Speaker John A. Boehner, who called Mr. Obama “increasingly isolated” in his opposition to expanding the project.

There are two key assumptions in that paragraph: Keystone would do something about gas prices and it would would generate a significant number of jobs. This is exactly what Keystone proponents like to stress. But the Keystone project, as we’ve noted before, would create few jobs and have no consequential effect on gas prices.

Steinhauer doesn’t get into this, writing only: “The number of jobs that could be created by the Keystone expansion–supporters say 20,000–is disputed.”

Well that’s not very helpful–especially considering other estimates find it would create only 2,500-5,000 jobs.

And the piece leans heavily on supporters of the project–Republicans and Democrats alike–with little room for actual critics.

With media coverage like this, it’s little wonder that polls show support for the Keystone pipeline.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.