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ABC News Gets Dirty With Carnegie and POGO

My respect for ABC News is dropping by the hour. After doing some extra searching, I discovered that the virulently anti-nuclear Project for Government Oversight or POGO, didn't just serve as a source for interviews on the "Loose Nukes" series, it was actually hired as a consultant. My source: POGO's own blog:
ABC News is scheduled to run an investigative series next week about nuclear security and safety at home and abroad. The series, which POGO consulted on, will in theory run on a variety of ABC News programs, such as 20/20, Nightline, Good Morning America, and World News Tonight. It promises to be a comprehensive report on the many problems caused by worldwide proliferation of weapons grade nuclear materials.
It's one thing to interview a biased source. But this is another thing entirely.

But it gets worse. What I discovered was that POGO is currently getting a 2-year $200,000 grant from the Carnegie Corporation of New York -- the same Carnegie Corporation that provided the ten Carnegie Fellows for the "Radioactive Roadtrip". For more, click here.

I don't really know what else to say, other than ABC News has some explaining to do. I do know one thing -- I don't think they'll be calling us to do any "consulting" anytime soon.

UPDATE: Welcome readers of Little Green Footballs, we're glad you're here..

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Anonymous said…
Not surprising in the least. The whole freakin' piece was one-sided. They went into this story with a prejudiced view. They simply went out and got hired guns that would validate their prejudice. POGO is one example. The other was claiming that a strident anti-nuclear group, Committee to Blow the Bridge, was a "nuclear watchdog" group, when more like rabid attack dog is closer to the truth.
My background is in engineering and not journalism, but how in the world can a major news organization get by with broadcasting such an inflammatory story without interviewing one single expert with an opposing viewpoint? It boggles my mind.
Matthew66 said…
I think if you asked ABC News they would tell you that they don't have to justify themselves to anyone. Unfortunately, the first amendment probably gives them that right.

I wonder though whether ABC News has stepped over the line and the universities have a case to sue them for libel. By hiring POGO as a consultant, and not getting an alternate view, I suspect that ABC had scant regard for the truth, one might go so far as to say they were acting maliciously. It is of course defamatory to suggest that the universitites are operating their reactors unsafely.

ABC wouldn't want me on a jury.
Anonymous said…
Awesome. This is just getting better and better. When I talked to a producer from the show, I asked who was involved in the story not related to ABC news. The producer vociferously denied any external influences (i.e. Carnegie, POGO, etc.)

Liar liar, pants on fire.
Anonymous said…
Not surprising in the least. In the infamous Food Lion/tainted meat case, a case that ABC lost in court, the grocery worker's union was the consultant. The significance there is thta Food Lion is non-union.
Anonymous said…
This blog entry is inaccurate. POGO was not hired by ABC. ABC made its own decisions about what was true or not true. ABC may have spoken with POGO, but they did not pay money for POGO's opinions, which are available (for free) at POGO's web site Maybe you all need to get a better grip on reality here. Must be fun to pretend you are involved in fighting a big conspiracy when the truth is that you are the big conspiracy of lies.
Anonymous said…
Are you claiming that all of POGO's interviews with nuclear plant workers a couple of years back were inaccurate and biased? That the plant workers really didn't think that they were not well-equipped to handle an attack on the reactors?

POGO's conclusions may have been that there was a problem, but that can hardly be classified as "virulently anti-nuclear." Could just be that there was a problem, and a serious one at that.
Anonymous said…
Yeah, and it looks like POGO got that grant for "strengthening U.S. democracy." HMM, I wonder how much "democracy" NEI and their members buy each year with their campaign contributions, their lawyers, their lobbyists...oh yeah, and don't forget the people that get bought outright with nice cushy jobs after going through the revolving door. Geesh, $200K is really starting to sound like chump change.
Anonymous said…
Oh my goodness -- and this is just the campaign contributions....tsk tsk

The nuclear power industry has given $8.7 million to federal candidates and committees so far in the 2002 election cycle. Overall, the industry has favored Republicans, giving 70 percent of its individual, PAC and soft money contributions to the GOP. Top Senate recipients include Robert C. Smith (R-N.H.), who has received more than $90,000 in individual and PAC donations so far in 2001-2002. Smith is the ranking Republican of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, which oversees the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Top House recipients include Dingell (D-Mich.), who has received more than $83,000, and Joe Barton (R-Texas), who has received more than $63,000. Dingell is the ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Barton is the chairman of the House Subcommittee on Energy and Power and the sponsor of the House resolution to turn Yucca Mountain into a nuclear waste repository.

Top contributors include Southern Company, which has donated $1.1 million in individual, PAC and soft money donations so far this year, 72 percent to Republicans. Although much of the power Southern Company’s electric utilities generate comes from coal, the company does operate three nuclear power plants in Georgia and Alabama. Dominion Resources, which has given more than $800,000 so far, spent $1.3 billion to purchase a nuclear power facility in Connecticut. Earlier this year, it also tried to buy another plant in New Hampshire, but lost out to Florida Power & Light Group (FPL). FPL is also a top contributor, giving more than $400,000 so far in 2002, 90 percent to Republicans.

The Center for Responsive Politics calculated the nuclear power industry’s campaign contributions by including money from several different sources: companies that have significant revenue from nuclear power operations (either by owning or operating a power plant); industry trade associations (such as the Nuclear Energy Institute); and companies that build nuclear power plants or develop nuclear technology (such as General Atomics). Totals also include contributions to leadership PACs.
Anonymous said…
And there's more...$10 million for lobbyists...geesh, remind us, how did you define "dirty"?
AnechoicRoom said…
Peter Jenning is spinning in his grave. Ooops, cross that out (sorry).

Peter Jennings is spanking his monkey madly in his grave.

Signed, Elmo.

P.S. Anonymity is for Cowards and Panty Waisted Paranoid L3's.
Don Kosloff said…
Every highly regulated industry must spend millions for lobbying just to stay alive. So lobbying is an essential contribution to democracy. Just as hiring lawyers to assist in obeying complex laws is essential.

It is the duty of every American and every American business to contribute to campaigns. If they don't, people like the Clintons and Algore will get more money from foreign sources like the Lippo Group, the People's Liberation Army and George Soros.

Today any contributor who is interested in keeping America alive will favor Republicans in their campaign contributions.

If POGO wasn't consulting, why did they write that they were?

ABC is incapable of making decisions about what is true and what is not true. The distinction is of no concern to them.
Eric McErlain said…
If anyone from POGO who can be positively identified would like to clarify what they meant when they wrote that they had "consulted on" the ABC story, I'll be happy to update the post. In addition, we'd also like to know exactly what assistance POGO rendered to ABC News.
Ilovenukes said…


BTW, did ABC "consult" with NEI?
Ilovenukes said…
After all, the NEI members would be sorely disappointed if NEI didn't answer the phone when ABC called. Someone needs to explain why wide-eyed college students were strolling into nuclear research reactors like they were candy shops.
Eric McErlain said…
As I've mentioned before, the disclosure of a "consulting" relationship was POGO's doing, we've done nothing but quote their own statement.
Anonymous said…
One purpose of research reactors on college campuses is education. Public outreach is one such function. Given the relatively small inventory of irradiated materials present, the hazard level for the general public is very low. Thus, it is possible to provide public education, conduct classes, and perform research, with a relatively open environment which, by its nature, presents very low risk to public safety even in worst-case scenarios.

The deleted posts on the ABC site made the convincing case that these individuals never really were "strolling around". They were identified and reported as behaving suspiciously. Steps were taken to monitor their activities and in many cases restrict their access to certain areas. One case of attempted removal of an item was prevented. In another case the individuals were detained by law enforcement personnel. At no time did these individuals have the opportunity to case any kind of incident that would have endangered public safety.

I find it ironic that the same groups and individuals who are now decrying the supposed "lax" security are either the same or allied with groups that only a short time ago were criticizing nuclear facilities are being too "secretive", and denying the public's "right to know" what is going on at those places. Sounds like a no-win situation to me, damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Ilovenukes said…
Uh oh, looks like NEI didn't do its homework...

"POGO does not accept gifts from corporations, government agencies, or labor unions."

Perhaps "consulted" is more along the lines of..."I consulted with the campus security guard before propping open the door to the nuclear research reactor all night."
Eric McErlain said…
Nice try -- But Carnegie, which is none of the things you list, announced the award of the grant on their Web site. Check it out.
Matthew66 said…
In the USA, it is legal to make donations to political parties, the NEI does it, as do most lobby groups. All lobby groups send money to the parties and politicians that they believe will further their agenda. In the USA this is considered part and parcel of the democratic political process. Disclosure is made in the interestes of openness and transparency. I have no particular problem with this process.

I do however have a problem with media outlets promoting editorial comments as unbiased news. If POGO was consulted as their blog claims (and that claim is still posted there), ABC News should also have consulted other lobby groups with different views. This was a news show not a talk show. A talk show host is clearly presenting a personal opinion for entertainment purposes. A news show reports and interprets the news, if it has a comment on the news, that should be clearly distinguished.
Anonymous said…
since these carnegie fellows were attempting to gain unauthorized access to nuclear materials as part of an organized effort by groups hostile to american interests, shouldn't all involved be arrested for conspiracy and aiding and abetting terrorist activities. hang the kids, the abc people, POGO, and seize the assests of the carnegie foundation.

let them feel the results of their plame gate stuff, treasonous commie bastards.
Anonymous said…
Well, now that you mention it, it is a federal crime for a person to possess safeguards information when they are not authorized to have it...

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