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[Fwd : Overview of "Trade Secrets", by Moyers...]

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  • Dana Hacker
    This came off another list I m on. Dana
    Message 1 of 1 , Apr 4, 2001
      This came off another list I'm on.


      Teri wrote:
      > I thought some of you might be interested in this. It came from the
      > New Heaven, New Earth list, via a friend.
      > Dear Readers:
      > Two weeks ago, when Bill Moyers' office contacted my editors at Sierra
      > magazine to request reprint rights to my 1994 article "Conspiracy of
      > Silence," I was skeptical. They said that they were about to broadcast
      > an
      > exposé called "Trade Secrets," which they promised would expose the
      > inside
      > story on what the chemical industry has been hiding from the public
      > and the
      > government for 50 years.
      > Many of us involved in the struggle for environmental justice have
      > been
      > shmoozed, lured, courted and bilked out of hundreds of pages of our
      > documents, faxes, photocopies, postage and hours spent on the phone
      > explaining the facts to an assortment of researchers and reporters for
      > TV
      > shows like Inside Edition, Sixty Minutes and Dateline. They are always
      > about
      > to do "the big story." But then they either get nixed by their
      > producers, or
      > complain that a horrid scene like the one at SUNY New Paltz, where 990
      > students still live in PCB-contaminated dormitories -- which I have
      > tracked
      > since 1991 -- has no "payoff." After all, the pile of corpses is not
      > high
      > enough; there have not been enough ambulance rides to make good
      > television.
      > And then, these reporters (who are starting to seem like little kids
      > to your
      > old Uncle Eric) vanish into the ethers from which they came. I've
      > gotten a
      > few free lunches out of it at my favorite haunts in Woodstock; the
      > public
      > has found out very little.
      > So, somewhat reluctantly, I granted permission for use of my Sierra
      > piece,
      > which was used as part of their research, on the PBS web page. (At the
      > last
      > minute they called back and said they had enough information for the
      > site
      > and did not need it.)
      > And then I checked a TV schedule for the first time in about 20 years,
      > and
      > watched the report.
      > What you saw on Monday night was an historical broadcast. When
      > environmental
      > stories do make the news, we who actually know what's behind the story
      > must
      > content ourselves with the "big media" publishing gross
      > oversimplifications
      > to dumb down the facts, muting of the implications of their findings,
      > creating major distortions and making know-nothing statements. But the
      > two
      > years that Moyers and his staff put into this report shined through
      > the
      > program. I was watching carefully, and skeptically.
      > This broadcast was, first of all, a telling of the truth. Second,
      > people,
      > real people, dying workers, the families of dead chemical workers,
      > citizen
      > activists, and plaintiff's lawyers, were given a chance to speak from
      > their
      > guts. There are many, many such people in the world and we rarely hear
      > from
      > them.
      > Second is that real documents, in particular, internal corporate
      > memos, were
      > used. I have been in those rooms full of hundreds of thousands of
      > pages of
      > documents, I have studied them for years, and what you saw was the
      > real
      > thing. These records are obtained when sick and dying people and their
      > families sue large corporations and judges grant what are called
      > "discovery
      > motions" and the information is scooped out of the secret files, and
      > made
      > public.
      > Particularly in comparison to the utterly thoughtless, hollow news
      > reporting
      > on the rest of the time, this broadcast stands out like a Great
      > Pyramid at
      > Giza. The men you saw defending the industry and whining about biased
      > reporting at the end are what chemical activists call "nozzleheads."
      > This is
      > because when they open their mouths to speak, the lies spew out like
      > those
      > clouds of DDT you saw kids frolicking around in earlier in the
      > broadcast.
      > Sure, investigative reporting is totally biased. As CBS News legend
      > (the
      > late) Edward R. Murrow once remarked, "Sometimes there is only one
      > side of
      > the story."
      > Had I been the producer of this program, I would have made a few more
      > facts
      > clear, however. Dioxin was mentioned about three times (including the
      > fact
      > that Moyers himself has 14 congeners of the substance, and 31 types of
      > PCBs,
      > in his blood). But the extent of the dioxin problem, and the
      > incredible
      > potency of the chemical (which is now measured in
      > parts-per-quadrillion,
      > considered dangerous at 100,000-times lower levels than
      > parts-per-million)
      > was not really discussed. Fortunately, shots of citizen activists
      > screaming
      > at Love Canal in New York, and the tearing down of homes at Times
      > Beach,
      > Missouri were used to make this point. It would have been great to
      > hear
      > about the dioxin problem in polyvinyl chloride, PCBs and pesticides --
      > that
      > the final products have, many times, contained dioxin contamination.
      > And
      > when the used products are burned, enormous levels of dioxins escape
      > through
      > municipal and toxic waste incinerators.
      > Second is that the show made significant mention of lack of testing of
      > industrial and household chemicals, stating that 43% of the chemicals
      > on the
      > market have no product safety testing whatsoever. This is an
      > understatement,
      > and what was not mentioned was the raiding by the FDA and the EPA in
      > the
      > late 1970s of about a dozen of the private product testing labs used
      > by
      > companies to declare their products safe. Many of these labs created
      > false
      > cancer safety studies and other fraudulent "scientific" findings, and
      > after
      > the labs were busted and, in one case, employees and executives sent
      > to jail
      > for fraud, the products were never retested for safety. The situation
      > was so
      > bad that all of the product safety testing was declared by the FDA and
      > EPA
      > to be insufficient based on fraud and poor methodology. This is
      > covered to
      > some extent in my article Conspiracy of Silence.
      > But these are relatively minor criticisms compared to what went out on
      > the
      > airwaves Monday night, and I want to thank Mr. Moyers and his staff
      > for
      > their work. But mainly I want to thank the many citizen activists,
      > alternative press journalists and lawyers who worked for free and at a
      > tremendous personal cost over many years to make this broadcast
      > possible.
      > Big television never does the story first; what Moyers knew is that
      > this
      > story has been done so many times by us little guys that he was immune
      > from
      > libel suits; the one time Monsanto did falsely sue a reporter, it
      > turned out
      > to be a nightmare for them.
      > I recommend that you obtain a copy of this broadcast, see it if you
      > missed
      > it, and show it to your friends, family and neighbors. If you are a
      > teacher,
      > please show it to your students. It can be purchased for $35 including
      > shipping by calling WNET in New York at (800) 336-1917. There is also
      > more
      > information at <http://www.PBS.org> and at <http://www.EWG.org>. For
      > the
      > Nozzlehead side of the story,
      > check out <http://www.AboutTradeSecrets.org>.
      > For more about chlorine, dioxin and the struggle for environmental
      > justice,
      > log onto the Rachel database. It's free, and it's amazing:
      > http://www.rachel.org
      > Eric Francis
      > On Puget Sound
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