More Shoddy Journalism

  • Monday, 16 November 2015 00:00

It appears as though journalistic standards are on the decline. At least when the topic of the story is the RFS. 

Last week, Fox News presented an "analysis" on the RFS and cited a study without checking who paid it. Today, the Wall Street Journal carries on that tradition of shoddy journalism by "presenting" views from supporters and detractors of the RFS. Why do we say it's shoddy journalism?

It's because the Wall Street Journal's RFS detractor is Robert Bryce, from the Manhattan Institute For Policy Research, a firm which has recieved millions from the oil industry. In essence, Bryce is a spokesperson for the oil industry disguised as an "expert" on the RFS. But the Journal apparently decided not to disclose the connection between Bryce and the oil industry.

Interestingly enough, the RFS supporter the Journal chose wasn't someone from the ethanol or corn industry. It was Margo T. Oge, the former director of the Office of Transportation and Air Quality at the EPA who presented actual facts on ethanol's environmental benefits and the fact that oil refiners have been using ethanol as a cost-effective way of increasing octane levels.

What does it say about a newspaper's objectivity when it pits a former government official against special interest? Couldn't the Journal have found another former official of the EPA who is against the RFS? The EPA hasn't exactly been a friend to the ethanol industry the last two years. But that has something to do with its fixation on the blend wall, not because it believes ethanol doesn't reduce carbon emissions.

And therein probably lies the connundrum for these news organizations. It can't find RFS opponents who have any credibility. 

Or maybe the Journal just wasn't interested in putting out a balanced analysis of the RFS. After all, both Fox News and the Wall Street Journal are owned by Rupert Murdoch, so perhaps there's a concerted effort against the RFS from both organizations. Even the title of the story, "Should the U.S. End the Ethanol Mandate?" suggests a hidden bias.

But failing to disclose that Bryce is connected with the oil industry is journalism at its worst. Surely the journalists at the Journal are proficient in using Google?