NYT Belittles Chevron’s Efforts to Counter One-Sided Media Treatment in Ecuador Lawsuit

May 11th, 2009 12:18 PM

You might expect this sort of simple revelation from the New York Times reporting, but a May 11 article declared that when Chevron hires a former reporter to tell the company's side of the story, it's intended to make them look good - or not as bad as the eco-activists deem appropriate.

After CBS's "60 Minutes" aired a one-sided segment attacking Chevron (NYSE:CVX) for a mess the oil company contends it is not responsible for, a Times article by Brian Stetler questioned the merits of their efforts to counter the claims, specifically in hiring a former CNN reporter to speak on the company's behalf.

"As a demonstration of just how far companies will go to counteract negative publicity, the Chevron case is extraordinary," Stetler wrote. "Gene Randall, a former CNN correspondent, spent about five months on the project, which was posted on the Internet in April, three weeks before the ‘60 Minutes' report was shown on May 3."

The Times story also trotted out an anti-Chevron environmental activist, who promotes a $27-billion judgment against Chevron, who called Chevron's attempts to get their side of the story in public domain "embarrassing."

"Mitch Anderson, a campaigner for Amazon Watch, said that Chevron had resorted to ‘embarrassing public relations tactics' because credible news sources had not sufficiently framed the report the way they would like, namely, to ‘to place all of the blame for Texaco's environmental disaster in Ecuador on PetroEcuador,' Texaco's former partner," Stetler wrote.

And, despite giving a story about the video in question space in its paper, the entire effort was still downplayed by the Times.

"Their advocacy may not have had a serious effect. While the ‘60 Minutes' report reached at least 12 million viewers on television, the Chevron-sponsored effort has received only about 2,000 views on YouTube," Stetler wrote. "Chevron would not say how many views it had counted on its own Web site."