Maddow gives air time to Koch brothers fracking advocate

Prof. Richard Muller

Prof. Richard Muller has come out of the closet and now believes global warming is real. It took him 20 years.

Editors note: This piece ran last year on Eric Francis’s Planet Waves website and it remains an important touchstone concerning how the main stream media continues to act as the lapdog to Big Oil and Big Energy in general. After reading this piece, ask yourself, how much has changed in the major media relative to critical reporting on the facts concerning fossil fuels extraction processes, the fossil fuel economy, and the burning of fossil fuels?

Monday night, Rachel Maddow proudly hosted someone named Richard Muller, a scientist funded by the Koch brothers (petrochemical moguls who are also sponsors of the Tea Party and Romney campaigns). Muller, a former climate-change skeptic, has had an incredible revelation: global warming is real, and it’s being caused by humans. [See video here.]

Prof. Richard Muller has come out of the closet and now believes global warming is real. It took him 20 years.

He came out of the closet in an op-ed in The New York Times. Maybe it took a lot for Muller to catch up with the past 20 years of climate science, or maybe his position is a ruse, but then live on the Maddow show, he proposed a solution: burn natural gas instead of coal. Where would we get that natural gas? Fracking, of course! Or as he put it, “clean fracking,” which does not exist and is unlikely ever to exist except in the hallucinations of PR people.

Fracking, or hydraulic fracturing, is a way of violently extracting gas from miles below the ground. In the process, it consumes tons of water, injects toxins into the aquifer, causes flammable drinking water and destroys communities.

Notably, her program has been sponsored by fracking propaganda ads for years, and continues to be, as recently as the Thursday night edition. The ads state outright that fracking — which is not mentioned by the name everyone would recognize — is safe and protects both communities and drinking water supplies. It’s fair to say this is an outright lie, given the problems that have been exposed about fracking over the past few years. For most people who get dragged in, it becomes a living nightmare that is destroying their lives.

The dirt on “clean fracking”

Muller thinks developing “clean fracking” is the answer to lure underdeveloped countries like India and China off of their coal dependence. Muller — a physicist at UC Berkeley and former MacArthur Genius Grant winner — and his awakening were touted by Maddow as evidence of the impossible.

Maddow noted that Muller’s recent research through his Berkeley Earth Surface Temperatures (BEST) study was funded by the infamous right-wing oil gazillionaires the Koch brothers, making Muller’s findings on global warming that much more surprising. More shocking still was Maddow’s failure to call him out on his support of fracking — a yet-to-be-developed clean version or otherwise.

Instead of calling Muller out on his claims, Maddow jokes about developing fracking that does not cause earthquakes or flammable drinking water (she shows B-roll video of someone who lives near a fracking well whose kitchen sink bursts into flames when they strike a match next to running water).

We think it’s time for her to get an earful and drop ExxonMobil. Fracking is a destructive, toxic process; “clean fracking” is a red herring.

We already know where we can get clean energy; we’re orbiting it. If you want to let her know that what she’s doing is bad for the planet and bad for her credibility — and amounts to selling her soul for what she calls “the best job in the world” (her own) — please write to her at

–Eric Francis, Transition Voice Magazine

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