January 1, 2008
The Rutland Herald failed its readers by not identifying Patrick Moore as a paid spokesman for the U.S. nuclear industry. On Dec. 27, the Herald published Moore’s commentary titled “Vermont’s Low Carbon Leadership,” which encouraged relicensing the Vermont Nuclear Plant.
Instead of accurately identifying Moore, the Herald used the titles that Moore and his nuclear lobbyist employers prefer: “advisor to the Vermont Energy partnership, co-founder and former leader of Greenpeace, and chairman and chief scientist of GreenSpirit Strategies Ltd.,” (Moore’s small consulting firm).
Patrick Moore has not been involved with Greenpeace for 20 years, and the current leaders of Greenpeace completely disavow Moore’s present work. Currently, Moore is collecting large sums of money to promote nuclear power from the Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI), the Washington-based lobbying group for the nuclear industry.
Moore has been the most visible feature of an $8 million public relations campaign funded by NEI and run by Hill & Knowlton (an international public relations firm) that has booked countless Moore speeches and planted countless Moore editorials, all trumpeting his ancient association with Greenpeace and failing to disclose his payments from the nuclear lobby.
In this way, Hill & Knowlton has misleadingly implied, again and again, that Moore is an aging greenie or some type of local activist, rather that what he really is … a man bought and paid for by a national lobbying group. Too many media outlets, including the Rutland Herald last week, have inexplicably let Moore and Hill & Knowlton get away with this deception. In a July/August editorial, the Columbia Journalism Review called it “maddening” that Hill & Knowlton “should have had such an easy time working with the press,” namely in keeping mention of Patrick Moore’s nuclear industry payments out of news coverage.
We, the readers of the Rutland Herald lost again last week and Hill & Knowlton won. As an important gatekeeper for honest debate, I ask the Herald to be more vigilant in covering the Vermont Yankee relicensing debate.