Ed Driscoll

Journalists Doubling as Environmental Activists a Slippery Slope for MSM

Back in April of 2006 David Mastio warned at Real Clear Politics that when it comes to the media and their environmental reporting, the MSM is less than objective, for a reason:

Next time you read a magazine cover story like the one Time just published (“Be Worried. Be VERY Worried. Polar Ice Caps Are Melting … More And More Land Is Being Devastated … Rising Waters Are Drowning Low-Lying Communities… The climate is crashing, and global warming is to blame”) you should remember one little fact: U.S. media companies, including Time Warner, donate more to the environmental movement than any other industry. Companies like The New York Times, Gannett, Tribune, ABC, CBS and NBC have donated more than a half-billion worth of ad space since the 1990s to raise money for some of the nation’s most extreme environmental groups. And yes, that was billion with a B.

To put that number in perspective, America’s media companies donate more to environmental groups every year than the much-feared Olin Foundation’s spent annually in its effort to build the institutional foundation of the conservative movement.

Of course, nearly five years later, we know that objectivity and the MSM in general are increasingly mutually exclusive terms. But then there are the individual journalists themselves.

“Bob Woodruff is a reporter for ABC News who focuses on environmental issues. Woodruff’s career is the sort which convinces Americans to invest their trust in his reporting,”Andrew Breitbart notes. “Unfortunately, Big Journalism has learned that Mr. Woodruff has been doing much more than objectively reporting on environmental issues:”

Big Journalism has learned that Mr. Woodruff has for years lent his name and his network news affiliation to an annual charity event that raises money for the hard-left advocacy group Waterkeeper Alliance headed by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. To make matters worse, Mr. Woodruff profiled the group’s efforts in fighting Exxon in a story about the Hudson River and objectively featured Mr. Kennedy and his personal efforts on behalf of the organization. Are Mr. Woodruff’s personal causes preventing the practice of objectivity required by his profession?

The group’s charity event, the Deer Valley Celebrity Skifest, has served as a major fund-raising event for Waterkeeper Alliance and the press release for last year’s event boasts of $500K being raised for Mr. Kennedy’s group. Included in the press release is a list of celebrities who attended the auction and their show business affiliation. Mixed among the list of actors and their show affiliations (a “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” woman here, a “90210″ actor there) is Bob Woodruff’s name with the official “ABC News” designation after it.

Click over for the photo of Woodruff, in skies and goggles, ready to take to the slopes and race down plenty of compacted global warming.  More from Andrew:

Mr. Woodruff is no longer covering this environmental group, he has long been an active part of it.

The conflict with Waterkeeper Alliance doesn’t just end at his participation in the event. Big Journalism has also learned that Mr. Woodruff’s appearance at the weekend-long ski event was comped. It blurs the line of objectivity when a receives perks from the principal of a story he’s obligated to objectively cover.

Independent Producer and investigative journalist Eric Longabardi,  a long-time award winning-producer who has worked extensively with ABC News for years contacted ABC’s Vice President of Communications, Cathie Levine to ask whether Mr. Woodruff’s participation in the charity auction was indeed a violation of ABC News’ journalistic standards. Longabardi happened to catch a January 23rd CBS re-broadcast of the group’s fundraising auction (original air date was December 5th) in which he saw Woodruff.

Ms. Levine explained that Mr. Woodruff has a family connection to the ski event that pre-dates the Waterkeepers involvement as the beneficiary, but she acknowledged that lending his name and his association to ABC News constituted a violation of the network’s policy and the company will take “appropriate disciplinary action” for the violation. Ms. Levine would not extrapolate on exactly what action will be taken.

Meanwhile at Newsbusters, “Politico’s Patrick Gavin Joins DC Liberals Jumping in Freezing Potomac for Global Warming.” To — wait for it — “try to raise some awareness for climate change,” as Gavin says in the video at Newsbusters.

Self-described American “progressives” have been using environmental issues as a cudgel against progress since 1970. Is there anybody left, on either side of the argument who isn’t aware of this issue at this point?