If the news media across Appalachia was even halfway concerned about doing its job, then WV wouldn’t be in such bad shape. The evidence of this couldn’t be more clear. Because of the lack of outrage by our newsroom editors and their compliant reporters, no regulators have ever been fired for letting scofflaw corporations kill their workers, and no politicians have ever been voted out of office for letting regulating agencies off the hook.
- FACT: WV has long been recognized as the 4th most resource-rich state in the nation.
- FACT: WV has the poorest counties in the nation, and they’re located where the highest grade metallurgical coal in the nation is being exported at record rates.
- FACT: WV’s unemployment rate soared above the national rate even as we were being poisoned and run out of our com- munities by multinational fossil fuel industries under Joe Manchin and Earl Ray Tomblin -yet when the WV mainstream media broadly endorsed them both, it ignored their responsibility for those issues by avoiding addressing them altogether.
- FACT: In the last election 75 percent of registered West Virginians voted for “none of the above” by not bothering to vote at all. The ridiculously low turnout also went unreported by our corporate-owned media.
Because there has been a long-standing “secret” governor-imposed stop order against the hiring of WV DEP and other regulating agency inspectors, companies that aren’t being properly regulated are poisoning our neighborhoods and killing miners. The lack of outrage by our all-too-mute media has long gone beyond suspicious, and the proof is in its lack of concern that former governor Joe Manchin was pulling down a larger paycheck as CEO of his coal brokerage than he was “earning” as governor of the state. From the NY Times:
“On his financial disclosures for 2009 and 2010, Manchin reported significant earnings from Enersystems Inc., a coal brokerage that he helped run before his political star rose. In the 19 months before winning his Senate seat in a hard-fought special election, Manchin reported operating income of $1,363,916 from Enersystems. His next disclosure showed $417,255 in Enersystems income.“
The short video below was edited by someone who calls himself IndepthInker. Upon hearing Manchin’s incredible statements on that video, I personally checked out the pre-edited video (found at this link). Sure enough, Manchin all but admitted his personal responsibility for the manslaughter at Upper Big Branch!
In case you have a dial-up modem and can’t get youtube, here’s the breakdown of the salient portions. During a speech in 2008 at the West Virginia Coal Association’s annual meeting, Manchin stated his governing philosophy. In an incredible show of pandering to the most powerful coalition of robberbarons in all of Appalachia, our governor readily admitted that he’d told his inspectors to go easy and to not shut down mines when they saw safety violations.
Manchin’s exact words were:
“Hey John, you’ve got a problem here, now before I write you up with a violation, here’s what I think you ought to do to fix it.”
There were reports that the “John” that Manchin was directly addressing was his pal John Raese, a coal operator who was in the crowd at the time. It was well before Raese declared his intentions to run against Manchin, who went on to say,
“Let’s get together, get our people together. I’ll come back in a week or a month or whatever the rotation time would be. Then if you’ve made those changes, tried to make the changes, we’re working in the right direction. Rather than going out with a ball bat and a cease and desist order and fines, I’d rather you spend the money to fix what’s wrong, try to make it safer, than give the money to government. I guarantee you we won’t fix it.“
Here’s what IndepthInker had to say when sent his youtube to me:
In this short presentation, WV Governor Joe Manchin bragged to his cohort about telling mine inspectors to lay off issuing citations for mine violations to his campaign backers.
Thanks to Ken Hechler, the principal architect of the Coal Mine Safety and Health Act of 1969, laws regulating deep mining would have made deep mining far safer than they’d ever been before. From the time that law was enacted right up until Manchin, as governor, engaged his “Retail Government” plan, deep mining actually logged fewer fatalities per extracted ton than surface mining! That statistic alone reveals that when Manchin let scofflaw mine operators off the hook prior to both the Sago and Upper Big Branch disasters, he turned that unprecedented underground mining safety record into a thing of the past.
Incredibly, now Manchin, along with his surrogate Tomblin are suing the EPA for trying to protect us even as coal slurry in the water table kills West Virginians across the coal patch!
The U.S. Chamber of Commerce endorsed Manchin even though it supports right wing candidates throughout the rest of the U.S. Then, the WV Chamber of Commerce endorsed him despite the fact that while he was governor more small businesses either left the state or closed up than in any other state!
There’s one major point that IndepThinker left out:
The Charleston Gazette actually went on to endorse Manchin although Ken “Coal Tattoo” Ward admitted outright that his Chilton Gazette editors knew about Manchin’s involvement!
To see Ward’s transcript of Manchin’s admission of guilt, go to this link and read the last paragraphs of the 2 page story. If you read far enough past the boring parts of his article, you will see Mr. Ward employing the classic strategy of “burying the lead”. Not only does he place Manchin’s scandalous statements at the very end of the story, Ward failed to report that along with senator Jay Rockefeller, Manchin’s director and co-director of the WV Office of Miners’ Health Safety & Training were introduced to the coal operators just prior to when he bragged about his lethal policy. To really bury the impact of Manchin’s statements, just before quoting the former governor accurately Mr. Ward chose to divert the reader’s attention to Manchin’s conflict with the EPA and Obama by writing,
“Still, Manchin has been at odds with the Obama administration over regulation of mountaintop removal and of greenhouse gas emissions from coal, and had told industry officials he favors working with companies over taking tough enforcement action.”
HUH? Someone please explain why Ward skipped the fact that Manchin’s mine safety enforcement directors had just been trotted out before the coal operator’s symposium like a team of trained show ponies at the county fair? Ken (Coal Tattoo) Ward’s article did, after all, bear the title “Mine blast investigation in works”!
While Mr. Ward’s piece really can’t be defined as false, burying the fact that Manchin was caught on tape admitting to telling his director and co-director to go easy and not shut the mines down is outright hack journalism. It is a textbook example of how so-called “ace” reporters miss linking major evidence of wrongdoing to the very politicians who are ultimately responsible for the sorry shape our state is in.
My point is that this website is where you, the average citizen, like my friend IndepthInker, can actually scoop the major news media by alerting all of us about major news that our all-too-compliant media has bungled. Yep, this my invitation for YOU to log it right here for the whole world to see. As a BONUS, I will then send a link to your article to the entire newsroom of whichever reporter bungled the facts including whichever chief editor buried your “lead” or ignored your news item altogether.
Then, they’ll have every chance to respond, right here on the World Wide Web. If they do, I will notify you. However, don’t expect a direct reply from corporate-embedded editors, because historically their inaccurate reportage strongly indicates that they generally couldn’t care less about accuracy. Where they make their profit is advertising, not circulation, and no one buys more advertising than the fossil fuel industries and their puppet politicians.
It’s up to us to get the word out to our fellow citizens about subjects like mountain top removal, sludge injection, hydrofracking, Blair Mountain, labor issues, dirty politics, and especially their own lousy reporting on all of the above.
Scoops like this are why the circulation of this website has so quickly grown to touch so many of your fellow mountaineers. And with the bad shape our state is now in, I can’t imagine ever running out of shocking events to write about. In fact I’ve got at least five stories I’m working right now that citizens like you have alerted me to which each have the potential of making our “front page”.
If our readership keeps growing at the same pace that it has thus far, it won’t be long before our puppet politicians won’t be able to hide behind the corporate-funded firewall of hack journalism. So the next time you notice the media not doing its job, please, just send me a link and I’ll raise a stink. And if you sent a news agency a press release but they completely ignored it, you can send me a link to that relevant action, or for that matter, any other item that you believe was improperly covered.
Once these newsroom editors (and their corporate bosses) begin to understand that their propaganda’s at risk of being exposed nationally for the pure sludge that it is, they might not so readily ignore the destruction of our state, neighborhood-by-neighborhood.
By the way, here’s the permalink to this page, which I’ve condensed so that you can send it out to your own local newsroom editors:
FYI …Compare the short excerpt from the Charleston Gazette’s account of its own history against what it fails to report about the bias of its owner (below):
The Chilton family first acquired formal interest in the paper about 1912. Listed, as incorporators of the Daily Gazette Company that year were J.E. “Mayor Joe” Chilton; Charles A. Ashcraft, later editor and business manager of the paper; T.S. Clark; and former Gov. William A. MacCorkle. Not listed was W.E. Chilton, who began a six-year term as U.S. Senator in 1911, and later became publisher.
Note that 1912 was a key date in the history of WV’s infamous coal war so Chilton and MacCorkle’s purchase of the most widely circulated newspaper in the state was not likely a coincidence.
Now for a bit of insight as to why the Chilton family is still so invested, a bit of unvarnished labor history tarnishes the Chilton Gazette’s management of the news of anything relative to the coal industry. From the book When Miners March by William C. Blizzard:
It was to be a mighty battle for the coal operators, who from a governmental point of view, WERE West Virginia. One U.S. Senator was Clarence W. Watson of Fairmont, whom the miners accused of being “king” of the state. He was president of the Consolidated Coal Company in northern West Virginia, owning 100,000 acres of land and employing 15,000 nonunion men.
Prime minister to the “king” was the other United States Senator, William E. Chilton. Chilton was owner and manager of the Charleston Gazette and a law partner of William McCorkle. McCorkle was a Democratic leader in the State Senate and their law firm represented, by some estimates, four-fifths of corporate interests in West Virginia. The UMW could be sure of being fought by the press – with the exception of the two labor papers in the Kanawha Valley – and, more important, by every official governmental agency in the state. -Bold added for emphasis -oc
source: When Miners March by William C. Blizzard Copyright: © Appalachian Community Services 2010
All Rights Reserved used with permission