Wednesday, July 27, 2005

Dramatic Differences in Coverage of the Energy Bill!

There are huge differences in the reporting of a House-Senate compromise on the Energy Bill. CNN is much more pro-environment and Fox much more pro-Bush and pro-industry. Here are eight differences from their current articles that illustrate their respective biases:

1. Headlines: CNN’s headlines bemoan the lack of support for conservation and stating that billions are going to companies. Fox, on the other hand talks about the industries that “win” with the bill.

CNN: “Energy deal cuts conservation support” with a sub-headline in smaller font of “Compromise on measure has billions in tax breaks for companies”

FOX: “Coal, Nuke Power and Corn Win in Energy Bill”

2. Opening sentences: Similar to the headlines, the opening sentences are telling of their biases. CNN talks of “scaling back” conservation support while Fox talks about the industries benefiting. Fox also has a second sentence that sounds like energy and conservation programs get a lot of money.

CNN: “Lawmakers scaled back support for energy conservation and efficiency programs…”

FOX: “A wide-ranging energy bill expected to move through Congress this week includes more than $8.5 billion in tax incentives and billions of dollars more in loan guarantees and other subsidies for the electricity, coal, nuclear, natural gas and oil industries.

Efficiency and conservation programs would get about $1.3 billion of the more than $14.1 billion in total tax breaks over 10 years”

3. Efficiency/conservation: Fox reports the amount given to efficiency and conservation programs but CNN notes that the amount is a lot less than the Seante had previously approved.

CNN: “Efficiency and conservation programs would get $1.3 billion, about a third of what the Senate had approved for such programs when it passed its energy legislation in June.”

FOX: “Efficiency and conservation programs would get about $1.3 billion of the more than $14.1 billion in total tax breaks over 10 years …”

4. Global warming?: Both articles quote Sen. Pete Domenici (R-NM) who said, among other things that “the measure will help diversify the nation's energy portfolio by spurring development of new technologies from the next generation of nuclear reactors to ways to burn coal with less smog-causing and climate-changing pollution.” On that last phrase, Fox drops of the connection to pollution causing global warming:

CNN: “… ways to burn coal with less smog-causing and climate-changing pollution.”

FOX: “…ways to burn coal with less pollution.”

5. Cost: I find it interesting that, making the same point, CNN uses the quote below to emphasize the money that the oil companies are taking in at $60 per barrel while Fox emphasizes the cost to the consumers at $2.29 per gallon.

CNN: “Some House Democrats, meanwhile, criticized giving billions of dollars or subsidies to mature industries including oil companies already flush with money in this era of $60 per barrel of oil.”

FOX: Democrats in Congress, as well as outside watchdog groups, for funneling billions of dollars to mature energy companies that are cash rich because of soaring oil prices and gasoline that is averaging $2.29 a gallon nationwide.

6. Taxpayers for Common Sense: Look at the highlighted portion of CNN’s quote below that was left off of Fox’s report. I believe that too be a stronger condemnation of the bill than the highlighted portion of Fox’s quote that is not in CNN’s article.

CNN: “The watchdog group Taxpayers for Common Sense estimated the total cost of the bill, including authorized programs that may never get funding from Congress, at $80 billion. “The bill is filled to the brim with massive giveaways for mega-rich energy companies,” said Jill Lancelot, the group’s president. “By stuffing the measure with so much pork, the[y] have attempted to buy off enough votes to guarantee passing a so-called energy bill.””

FOX: “Lawmakers let go any financial inhibitions and started spending like a bunch of drunken sailors,” said Jill Lancelot, president of the watchdog organization Taxpayers for Common Sense. “This energy bill is filled to the brim with massive giveaways for mega-rich energy companies.”

7. Competitive Enterprise Institute: CNN uses a much stronger opposition statement from this group than Fox:

CNN: “Myron Ebel of the conservative Competitive Enterprise Institute also criticized the bill over its government subsidies. “A lot of these tax subsidies and loan guarantees look an awful lot like the failed energy policies of the 1970s,” said Ebel in an interview.”

FOX: “A boon to farmers, it also would cost the taxpayer because ethanol gets a substantial tax break compared to gasoline, said Myron Ebel, an energy analyst for the Competitive Enterprise Institute.”

8. Overall: CNN had more of its article in opposition to the bill at 56% (by word count) to 24% for Fox. Fox had more information about the specifics of the bill and the ways in which the industries were helped and how some of that help has some benefits to the environment.

Links to the articles:,2933,163786,00.html

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