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Network Reporting All Wet on Bottled H2O

The broadcast networks continued their crusade against the bottled water industry after the left-wing Environmental Working Group released a study about bottled water labeling. Jane Houlihan, an EWG spokesperson, testified at a congressional hearing on government regulation July 8 and ABC, CBS, and NBC nightly news programs all featured segments bashing bottled water.

On ABC’s “World News with Charles Gibson,” host Charles Gibson opened the segment by asking, “Is bottled water any better than what you get from the tap?” Reporter Elisabeth Leamy questioned, “If the best things in life are free, why do Americans spend billions of dollars on bottled water?”

ABC reported that bottled water sales are at 15.9 billion dollars, which differed from CBS’s “The Evening News” report that “we spend 22.7 billion dollars for it.” But one thing all three networks agreed on was bottled water is somehow bad.

While EWG’s study dealt with the labeling on bottled waters, the networks all criticized bottled water. Tom Costello, of NBC’s “Nightly News,” stated, “Meanwhile researchers who testified today suggested bottled water should be a distant second choice of water, not a primary source. They insist tap water is usually very clean.”

“The Evening News” made bottled water seem unsafe. The story focused on a mother, Sarah Walton, who stopped drinking bottled water after she became pregnant. She didn’t give her son bottled water because she didn’t know what’s in bottled water. But she wasn’t alone, according to reporter Kelly Wallace, as other mothers used the social networking site, Twitter, to reply that they too don’t drink bottled water. Wallace described how bottled water sales were flat and, “the industry blames the recession but safety concerns are keeping mothers like Sarah Walton from buying bottled water until label tell her more.”

The media attacking the bottled water industry might have something to do with it. The three networks have attacked PepsiCo, which bottles Aquafina, “for not previously disclosing the source of its water.” In 2007, the three networks labeled bottled water the “environmental bad guy.” ABC has also blasted drinking bottled water because drinking it “hurts the environment.”

According to the EWG website, the study found that, “just 18% of bottled waters disclose quality reports with contaminant testing results.” The report also finds that, “only 2 of 188 bottled waters surveyed make public 3 basic facts about their products routinely disclosed by municipal water utilities: the water’s source, purification methods, and chemical pollutants remaining after treatment.”