Skip to comments.This story blows: The bizarre battle over Cape Wind (Cape NPR station siding with Kennedys?)
Posted on 05/31/2007 9:02:23 AM PDT by raccoonradio
Theres a foul wind blowing off Cape Cod. The clean-energy project known as Cape Wind makes more sense than ever, what with the mess in the Middle East and the earth getting warmer by the minute. But resistance to the proposed wind-farm which would place 130 windmills in Nantucket Sound and provide up to 75 percent of the Capes energy at any given time proves that it really isnt easy being green. Since Cape Wind was first proposed in 2001, the project has made plenty of powerful enemies (see the sidebar Enemies in High Places), including Ted Kennedy, his nephew Robert, and a host of other wealthy Cape Codders who dont want their beachfront views blighted or their sailing waters cluttered. (Opponents also cite concern for the local fishing industry and avian and marine habitats.)
Now the ongoing fight over Cape Wind has yielded a media controversy. Following the release of a new book (published on May 7) that paints the projects opponents in an exceedingly unflattering light, some wind-farm supporters are accusing the Cape and Island stations of WGBH, Bostons public-broadcasting behemoth, of de facto censorship. Whatever you make of this accusation, it shows just how charged the Cape Wind battle has become and highlights just how much clout the projects opponents actually have.
Conspiracy of silence Allegations of a media blackout surrounding Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound (Public Affairs) started with a reading that Wendy Williams, who co-authored the book with Robert Whitcomb, gave at a Cape Cod bookstore, Chathams Cabbages and Kings, on May 16.
Before Williamss appearance, Jack Moye the husband of the bookstores owner and a wind-farm supporter tried to drum up advance publicity for the event on WCAI, WGBHs Cape affiliate. (WCAI shares staff and programming with WNAN, the Nantucket station, and WZAI, which serves Marthas Vineyard; in radio parlance, the latter two stations are repeaters.) In early May, Moye says, he mentioned the book and the upcoming reading to Elizabeth White, the reporter in charge of WCAIs wind-farm coverage: Moye says White told him she was eager to read the book and stopped by the store to pick up an advance copy.
A few days later, Moye says, he hadnt heard back from White. So he contacted Georgia McDonald, WCAIs corporate-sales director, thinking that a pledge might help his cause. McDonald subsequently visited the store and discussed Cape Wind with a staffer. According to Moye who didnt witness the exchange McDonald said one of the people at the station had looked at the book and thought it was too pointed to bear mention. I dont think she actually used the word biased, but thats what it turned out to be.
Nothing too remarkable so far. After all, reporters take a pass on stories all the time. Furthermore, Williams and Whitcombs book is biased though its also informative and entertaining. Jim Gordon, the man behind the Cape Wind project, is consistently depicted as a visionary underdog, and the lionization of Gordon can be a bit much. In contrast, the projects opponents including Kennedy, whose family compound at Hyannisport is the stuff of legend are cast as a bunch of rich hypocrites whove put their own needs ahead of the common good.
That said, a few additional details complicate the picture. Consider:
● One of WGBHs board members is the brother of a prominent wind-farm opponent. David Koch, whose $12 billion placed him 49th on Forbes latest ranking of the worlds billionaires, sits on WGBHs board of directors. He also helps fund the PBS program Nova, which is produced by WGBH. Meanwhile, Bill Koch the businessman, Museum of Fine Arts benefactor/exhibitionist, and former Americas Cup winner whose net worth is a mere $1.3 billion is a leader of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound, the major anti-wind-farm group. Bill Koch has reportedly spent more than one million dollars of his own fortune on the anti-wind-farm cause.
● WGBHs Cape affiliates have a working partnership with the Cape Cod Times, the editorial page of which staunchly opposes Cape Wind. Times editors regularly appear on WCAI to discuss stories in that days paper. During Cliff Schechtmans 10-year tenure as editor, which ended in 2005, several critics (including former Phoenix writer Mark Jurkowitz) accused the Times of allowing its editorial stance to influence its news coverage. In 2005, for example, former Times reporter Jack Coleman wrote that Schechtman wont send his reporters anywhere that they might find people who overcame their initial opposition to windmills off their coast.
Wind-farm supporters agree that the Times news coverage has improved since Paul Pronovost replaced Schechtman as editor. But publisher Peter Meyer who lives in Osterville, Ground Zero for Cape Wind opposition, and does not receive flattering treatment in Cape Wind still holds the papers purse strings.
● WGBHs Cape affiliates imprudently tried to raise money from the principals in the wind-farm debate. Earlier this year, McDonald, WCAIs underwriting director, had a conversation with Barbara Hill, the executive director of Clean Power Now, the major pro-wind-farm group. McDonald suggested that Clean Power Now contribute $5000 to WCAI, says Hill; in exchange, information about the organization would appear on a WCAI Web site dedicated to coverage of the Cape Wind issue. She made a similar suggestion to the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. Both groups declined.
During McDonalds fundraising pitch, Hill claims, McDonald implied that Clean Power Now receives funding from Cape Wind Associates, the Jim Gordonled company thats seeking to build the wind farm. In fact, no such relationship exists. To Hill, this offhand comment suggested a fundamentally flawed understanding of the Cape Wind fight.
● Other Cape institutions seem spooked by the book. Allen Larson of the Cape Cod Center for Sustainability recently obtained permission to use a room in the Cape Cod Museum of National History for a discussion of Cape Wind. The permission was revoked a few hours later, due to a feeling that the authors are not unbiased.
Wind empowerment To wind-farm supporters or at least to a passionate and/or conspiracy-minded few these details suggest that something nefarious is afoot. On May 19, the online publication Cape Cod Today ran a piece by editor and publisher Walter Brooks whose single-minded support for the wind farm resembles the Cape Cod Times editorial pages determined opposition titled Media boycott of book causes windstorm of protest. (Get it?) Brooks also reprinted several letters that Cape-dwelling wind-farm supporters had written to WGBH president Henry Becton; the writers accused WGBHs Cape stations of bad journalism and warned that theyd be reconsidering their future support for WCAI.
Brookss article featured one other flourish worth noting: he reprinted an ad from WBUR, WGBHs public-radio competitor, which had run that morning in the Boston Globe. The ad depicted a convertible driving through downtown Boston; the proposed Nantucket Sound windmills were pictured on the inside of the cars windshield. The ads bolded catch phrase: EMPOWERING PERSPECTIVES. Is it a coincidence, Brooks asked, or clever marketing?
According to Steve Young, the broadcast director for WCAI and WGBHs other Cape affiliates, Brookss allegations are completely off base. There is, Young tells the Phoenix, no validity whatsoever to the charge that WGBHs Cape affiliates are boycotting Cape Wind, or that those stations are in bed with the anti-wind-farm cause.
Yes, both Light and McDonald visited the Chatham bookstore earlier this month, says Young. But in his account, a store employee told McDonald that Cape Wind was biased not the other way around. The same clerk then erroneously told Moye that McDonald said WCAI wouldnt be covering the book.
In fact, no such decision has been made, says Young. Hes reading Cape Wind right now; so is Mindy Todd, who hosts a Cape-focused talk show, The Point, weekdays at 9:30 am. So are two commentators for the station one a wind-farm supporter, one an opponent wholl be doing back-to-back reviews of the book. And, he adds, WCAI does not think that Clean Power Now is bankrolled by Gordons venture.
Were a bit late in the game, Young admits. But weve got a small staff; were a tiny little station. Weve made no firm decision as to whether were going to have the authors on, but I think we probably are. . . . If we finally get the authors on sometime in June or July, nobodys going to be hurt by it.
Furthermore, WCAIs relationship with the Cape Cod Times shouldnt be taken as a sign that the station agrees with the Times Cape Wind editorial stance, says Young, noting that, rumors to the contrary notwithstanding, theres no financial component to the relationship between the station and the paper. We dont take any position about Cape Wind, he insists. We never have; we never would. . . . Weve tried to cover this story straight down the middle, all the way from the beginning, and were proud of our coverage.
As for WCAIs parent organization, Jeanne Hopkins WGBHs vice-president for corporate communications has this to say: Weve never had any discussion with David Koch about his views about the wind farm. . . . Certainly, our board members do not have any involvement in editorial decisions.
Small Capers That might not be enough to convince Barbara Hill, Clean Power Nows executive director. Theyve been reluctant to be evenhanded about it, she says of WCAIs wind-farm coverage. If they do a show on [the wind-farm battle], theyll debate the developer i.e., Cape Wind Associates against the local opposition group. They will not debate the local opposition group against the local support group, which is far more evenhanded. They seem to be very upset with the idea that there is a strong local group in support of the wind farm, and thats what appears to be driving their actions.
Hills charges merit a healthy measure of skepticism. For example, if WCAI is, as she puts it, very upset that a local citizens group backs the Cape Wind proposal, why did the station recently give air time to Chris Stimpson a Clean Power Now member to expound on wind powers glories?
Nearly every claim and counterclaim in this spat raises similar questions. Start with WCAIs alleged decision to ignore Williamss reading: since on-air bookstore promos are, by Jack Moyes own admission, relatively uncommon, is it really that surprising that the station didnt plug the event on air? Or consider Brookss claim of a boycott: what about the fact that WCAI carried Cape Wind co-author Williamss interview with nationally syndicated talk-show host Diane Rhem?
That said, WCAIs delay in providing any original coverage of Cape Wind does seem weird. (It has already been reviewed by, among others, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Weekly Standard, and even the Cape Cod Times.) The book deals with the biggest issue to hit the Cape in decades. Youd think the station would have found a way to squeeze it into the schedule by now.
Even if no conspiracy against Cape Wind exists, you really cant blame wind-farm supporters for imagining that one might. As the book itself makes clear with details that transcend its undeniably strong point of view the political, economic, and cultural clout of Cape Winds opponents is remarkable. No, the anti-wind-farm forces probably havent kept WCAI from reporting on Cape Wind. But that doesnt mean they wouldnt like to.
>>In contrast, the projects opponents including Kennedy, whose family compound at Hyannisport is the stuff of legend are cast as a bunch of rich hypocrites whove put their own needs ahead of the common good.
Hypocrisy, thy name is Kennedy
Clean energy, free energy, Non CO2 energy,......But not in my view of the ocean.........Liberal HYPER-MEGA-HYPOCRITES!......
NPR and Kennedy — Two Government Funded Blowhards!
You said it! Also in the Phoenix:
The grand Pooh-Bah of Cape Wind opponents; the wind farm would be located roughly eight miles from his familys Hyannisport compound. Consulted with archconservative Republican senator Ted Stevens of Alaska before Stevens proposed a legislative provision that would have allowed Massachusetts to scuttle the Cape Wind project, which would be constructed in federal waters. (The provision failed.) Kennedys explanation for his opposition, according to an exchange quoted in Cape Wind: Thats where I sail.
Cape Wind begins with the Marthas Vineyard resident prolific historian (Truman, John Adams, Brave Companions, etc.), and host of PBSs American Experience (a WGBH production!) voicing his opposition to the Nantucket Sound wind farm. Its outrageous! says McCullough. This is a preservation issue. Its not an environmental issue.
Rachel Bunny Mellon
Resident of Oyster Harbors, a gated community on Nantucket Sound; granddaughter of the inventor of Listerine; widow of the astoundingly rich Paul Mellon; confidante of Jackie Kennedy; former mother-in-law of Senator John Warner (R-Virginia). In Cape Wind, she accuses a wind-farm supporter of being a traitor to [his] class.
Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Other environmentalists have urged him to drop his opposition to Cape Wind, but Teds nephew who cites commercial, environmental, and aesthetic concerns isnt budging. Hundreds of flashing lights to warn airplanes away from the turbines will steal the stars and nighttime views, Kennedy wrote in a 2005 New York Times op-ed. The noise of the turbines will be audible onshore ... the project will damage the views from 16 historic sites and lighthouses on the Cape and nearby islands.
Senator John Warner
Former son-in-law to Bunny Mellon and ex-husband of Elizabeth Taylor; attached an amendment to a 2004 defense-appropriations bill that would have stripped the US Army Corps of Engineers of its oversight authority on the project. The amendment didnt make the cut.
Mitt Romney (Yes. Mitt Romney.)
If the former Massachusetts governor becomes president in 08, dont be surprised if he throws new obstacles in Cape Winds path. Ive seen wind farms, Romney said during a 2006 Army Corps of Engineers hearing on the project. Theyre not pretty. As an alternative location, Romney suggested Boston Harbor.
The Big Dig whistleblower and failed independent gubernatorial candidate is also a leader of the Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound. His swanky West Yarmouth home faces the Kennedy compound.
Formerly featured in anti-wind-farm Alliance to Protect Nantucket Sound TV ads, Cronkite who owns a home on Marthas Vineyard eventually had second thoughts. I will confess . . . that I did not do my own homework as I should have before making the statements, Cronkite explained. I did not and I can only regret that now.
This liberal spat in the sandbox called Cape Cod is worth a lot of popcorn.
Right, Kennedy himself can provide all the air needed to power the wind turbines.
pinging the Howie Carr Show list (Brooks was a guest on
Howie’s show the other day)
It's not just the Kennedys.A search of the real estate transactions of Dukes,Barnstable and Nantucket Counties reads like a Who's Who of the rich,the powerful,the left of this country.
Kennedy,Chomsky,Cronkite,Kerry,Carly Simon...you name them,they're there.
Is WGBH/NPR/PBS engaging in advocacy? As a 501c3 charity, they are prohibited from advocating for/against a party, candidate, or pending legislation.
oops, actually it was Robert Whitcomb who was on Howie’s
>>MAY 29: Robert Whitcomb, editorial page editor of the Providence Journal and co-author of Cape Wind: Money, Celebrity, Class, Politics, and the Battle for Our Energy Future on Nantucket Sound was with us to talk abot the Cape Wind Project.
That’s not the end he blows it out of......or is it? Yes, that could be it.
The Kennedys and Kerrys block our own oil production and say they will promote any and all US led alternatives. But whenrt hey actually get the chance, it is apparently only allowed in someone else’s backyard.
They reek with hypocrasy and the MA voters still keep putting them on the dole.
I am glad they are against these wind turbines.
Rather than disfigure the landscape (or seascape), it would be better if we stop wasting energy.
And if we reduced energy demand by reducing immigration.
Had we not opened the floodgates to immigrants 40+ years ago, there would be almost half as many people in America today,
And we’d have twice as much energy than we do now.
Then we wouldn’t be so overcrowded that we would be forced to disfigure our part of the planet any further.
>>And if we reduced energy demand by reducing immigration.
I’m for that! Reduce ILLEGAL immigration certainly.
All those people would be in 3rd world countries, living off our tax dollars for support of their dictator governments, so the energy requirements on a global scale would still be there.............
Koch Industries is involved in the oil business, but that's the most straightforward thing about the family. This is the David Koch who ran for Vice President on the libertarian ticket in 1980. Their father was a Birch Society backer. Bill's a Democrat who considered running for the Senate. David and Bill are twins.
The four Koch brothers were involved in a complicated law suit in the Nineties: Bill and Frederick sued Charles and David. The family company's been involved in a lot of other litigation with the government over environmental damage. Other family dirty laundry is getting aired because of the Cape Wind fight.
the culture of hypocrisy strikes again!
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