Let’s start watching how the media covers the proposed expansion of a tar sands pipeline through northern Minnesota, a project that threatens our environment and provides no significant benefit to Minnesota. Today’s example is MPR’s story: Minn. oil pipeline fight stokes threats, fears of Standing Rock.
Quick background: Enbridge Line 3 is a tar sands pipeline that runs from Alberta to Superior, Wisconsin, via northern Minnesota. Enbridge wants to abandon its old and deteriorating pipeline in the ground. It wants to install a new and larger pipeline, running 337 miles along a new route through northern Minnesota. It would cut through the Mississippi headwaters, threaten lakes and wild rice beds, and violate treaty rights.
The MPR story is deeply flawed. Starting with the headline, the story raises “threats” and “fears” over the pipeline fight. So the first question to come to mind is: Who is doing the threatening and creating fear?
Here’s how the story sums it up:
Activists are pressing Minnesota officials now to deny the permit and kill the project. State officials and company executives working to head off a confrontation say they’re doing more than ever to listen to the concerns of those in the pipeline’s potential path.
That may not be enough to stop a confrontation.
Comment: In this frame, activists are “pressing” and even trying to “kill” the project. (“Kill” is a violent word.) State officials and company executives, on the other hand, are framed as peacemakers. They are “working” to head off a confrontation. They are doing “more than ever to listen” to concerns. As this frame goes,all that hard work and listening might not be enough to stop the confrontation, the threats, the fears.
You get the picture. This makes the activists seem unreasonable and the state and the company seem reasonable. The people — not the pipeline and the damage it would cause — are the threat.
That’s bunk. Continue reading