Media News

How oil companies manipulate journalists

May 17, 2024

Posted by Chris Roush

Molly Taft writes for The Nation and Drilled about the tactics oil companies use to manipulate reporters covering the companies.

Taft writes, “The documents released by the Senate Budget Committee, which range from 2015 to early 2022, portray an industry searching for a foothold in a changing world. While publicly declaring support for the Paris Agreement and touting ‘green’ initiatives and projects, executives strategized how to spin narratives with journalists that would help protect their bottom lines and insulate them from further climate criticism.

“One BP strategy document set a goal for the company to ‘get more stories placed,’ including ones around ‘our climate position,’ and to ‘focus on engaging non-traditional, specialty publications and outlets, while getting stories placed in national news outlets, ideally on the front page.’

“Controlling the narrative—particularly in business publications—took top priority for executives. In early 2021, BP produced a five-page memo for an unnamed executive to prepare for an ‘on-the-record, exclusive to [the Wall Street Journal] about bp’s journey to net zero and how we are reducing methane at our Permian Basin assets’—a favorite topic of oil majors eager to demonstrate good behavior in order to head off government methane regulations. That same year, a lengthy internal email chain prepared BP executives for an upcoming Bloomberg Businessweek story on gas flaring. ‘We expect this to be neutral/fair coverage but could be negative,’ BPs head of corporate communications warned.”

Read more here.

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