Sunday, March 4, 2012

Cuomo's Message? Depends What
Your News Source Wants to Hear

It's interesting to me how New York State media can spin the same single radio interview from Gov. Andrew Cuomo in two directly opposite directions — based not so much on what he said, as on what the reporters, and their editors, and their presumed audiences, want to hear.

I think it's a trick of human nature — and we are all, to varying degrees, susceptible to fooling our eyes, ears, and brains.  Tell you one thing, the Ceaseless Shale Gas Debate in New York State makes for One Helluva Magic Show.

On March 2, Cuomo put in another of his occasional appearances on the free-thinking Fred Dicker's "Live From the State Capitol," an Albany AM radio show airing 10 a.m. most weekdays (which, for most Hardcore Citizens of New York, can best be heard via live Internet feed here, or via podcast here, later on, at your leisure).

Judging by the fast fingers viewable nearly in real-time on Twitter, I think it's fair to say that most of the Albany press corps keeps a close eye on these gubernatorial appearances.  And they also routinely click over to his often-same-day appearances on "The Capital Pressroom" with Susan Arbetter, whose public radio show leans way more toward Heart-Rending Leftward Orthodoxy, live most weekdays an hour later at 11 a.m.  (One livestream outlet is here, and the podcasts eventually get posted here.)

The Albany correspondants listen because there's always the chance Cuomo might make some news, and they can't bear the professional humiliation of being caught out of the loop.  As far as news goes, March 2 turned out to be a judgment call.

But, here, you be the judge.

Here's how Dicker's own pro-drilling New York Post ran it — complete with deployment of its "Frack, Baby, Frack!" logo for this continuing saga — in a story by Erik Kriss:
Gov hits gas on drilling plan

ALBANY — When it comes to fracking in upstate New York, Gov. Cuomo says the issue isn’t whether it will happen — it’s how it will happen.
And here's how these same statements from Cuomo ran on anti-drilling Gannett's Politics on the Hudson blog, in a post from Joseph Spector:
Cuomo: No Decision Yet On Hydrofracking

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said today that there’s no new time schedule on when the state Department of Environmental Conservation would finish its review of hydrofracking—which the agency has been reviewing for nearly four years without resolution.
Just as interesting — if an advanced search on Google News two days later can be relied on — not a single Gannett-owned daily newspaper in Upstate made use of, in print or online, Spector's text — even though it was already bought and paid for.

You think that would be the case if Cuomo had said something about shale gas that Gannett wanted to hear?  The editorial message to the front-line scribes is obvious:  "[Yawn...] Next time, find us some real news [that we want to hear]."

But here's what Cuomo actually said:

On recent stories, based on Freedom of Information Law releases, showing that Cuomo (or his staff) had culled out anti-fracking questions in a long-prior online chat:  "Yeah, I think it's a silly point...  I didn't answer all the hydrofracking questions.  Of course not.  Of course not.  [Dicker:  What'd you get — 500 of them?  Cuomo:  Laughs.]  Well, you know, they're organized efforts.  It could be hydrofracking.  It could be whatever it is.  But when you do any situation like this, whether it's a call-in radio, whatever it is, you get organized efforts that will ask the same question a hundred times, a hundred different ways.  Hydrofracking opponents are very well organized.  Whenever I do a venue, I get a lot of hydrofracking questions.  I answered the hydrofracking question the same way I've answered it a hundred times before:  We're in the middle of a process, there's nothing new, DEC is doing the review.  And then there are another hundred questions basically on the same topic the same way, which I didn't answer."

On the DEC's progress in issuing a final SGEIS:  “I have had no recent updates one way or the other in terms of time.”

Nudged by Dicker on recent statements supportive of unconventional domestic fossil fuels, coming in President Obama's State of the Union address, and from his EPA chief Lisa Jackson:  “Well, I'll tell you, I was surprised by [New York City] Mayor Bloomberg’s support, which I hadn’t heard.  I hadn't really focused on, either.  But I hadn't heard that the mayor supported hydrofracking.  [Dicker:  Yeah, he said, Let's get the gas out of the ground, except in my neighborhood, in the watershed of the city.]  The watershed.  But, you know, watershed protections are understandable.  I was also surprised by Lisa Jackson, and the strength of her comment.  They're not especially relevant to DEC.  I don't want DEC making a political decision.  I want them making a decision on the facts.  And that's what they are doing...  We've said that from day one.  So I affirmatively don't want DEC considering politics.”

About the value of natural gas, conceptually:  “Look, natural gas is a great resource.  It helps this country, it helps the economy, in many different ways.  And I don’t think the question was, ‘Should we develop natural gas?’  The question is the protections, and how, and the regulations, and that’s what DEC is working through."

Is that what you wanted to hear?

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