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'60 Minutes' Refuels Coal Ash Attacks, Omit Government Culpability

CBS News reporter Leslie Stahl definitely wasn’t born a coal miner’s daughter.

On the August 15 edition of ‘60 Minutes,’ Stahl featured a 13-minute segment about coal ash, a byproduct of coal production, and revisited the infamous December 2008 Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) spill that was 100 times larger than the Exxon Valdez. Stahl failed to mention that the TVA is federally owned and instead dedicated her entire segment towards criticizing the coal industry and pining for increased government regulation.

“Would you say that the industry has done a good job of disposing of the coal ash waste,” Stahl asked Jim Rower, an industry lobbyist.

Incidentally, Stahl contradicted herself later in the piece by stating that states regulate coal ash disposition, meaning industries merely comply with government standards.

Stahl didn’t let this contradiction stop her crusade against “the industry.” Stahl harped on the EPA for not declaring coal ash a hazardous waste and chided EPA Head Lisa Jackson to regulate coal ash immediately.

“Why wouldn’t you, right now, this minute, on ‘60 Minutes,’ declare that coal ash is a hazardous waste?” Stahl demanded.

Stahl even conjured up the Bush Administration and magically linked it to leaked coal ash toxins from a recycling process known as beneficial use:

“But the EPA and the Bush Administration endorsed beneficial use and now coal ash is recycled in dozens of ways.”

Even when she interviewed a TVA manager, Stahl omitted that the TVA is government-owned and challenged the manager on the disaster.

“Shouldn’t the TVA have seen this coming?” Stahl asked.

Essentially: Shouldn’t the government have seen this coming?

Stahl saved her strongest bias for her closing interview with Rower, where she shoved all the blame on the coal industry and made no effort to conceal her bias:

“I don’t think many people really trust the utility bus -- industry, I’m sorry to tell you.”

As the Business & Media Institute reported last year, the media omitted all ties the TVA had to the federal government and instead focused their attacks on the coal industry. In fact, the coal industry is one of the media’s favorite punching bags yet the media continue attacking the industry when it’s actually failed government regulations that should shoulder the blame.

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