By Burt Wilson
"The man who reads nothing at all is better educated than the man who reads nothing but newspapers."
I don't believe Thomas Jefferson thought of the Sacramento Bee when he wrote this, but if he were alive today it would be a perfect fit.
The Sacramento Bee leads a long list of metropolitan and small town newspapers that never saw a pair of tunnels they didn't like. While major newspapers like the San Diego Union and the Santa Barbara Press and the Chico News-Enterprise go to great lengths to expose the illogic of the proposed Delta tunnels, the fallacy of the "co-equal goals" and the convoluted funding process that bypasses California voters, the stories the Bee prints about the Delta read more like a Bay Delta Conservation Plan (BDCP) media hand-out.
In a number of editorials and articles, Bee editorialists and reporters have refused to address the real issues facing the $16-billion sinking of two 35-miles long, 40-ft. wide tunnels 150 ft. below the surface of the Delta. When the long-held tradition of newspapering calls for a crusade against the skullduggery going on in the Delta, the Bee refuses to print anything controversial. Hello?
It's a given that the water agencies in California have a vast network of closely-allied propaganda outlets such as the Association of California Water Agencies (ACWA) and the Water Education Foundation (WEF). They exist to bolster the party line. These outlets churn out reams of propaganda about what they want the people of California to believe about the Delta, always backing significant water projects. They like to mask themselves with the appearance of independence and legitimacy, nevertheless they go to great lengths to unflinchingly lie about the issues and cover-up or ignore anything that is questionable.
Aquafornia, is a news outlet funded by the Water Education Foundation which recently has taken to banning water blogs and articles that are critical of the BDCP. Does this remind you of similar conditions in a foreign country a long time ago? Isn't there a story there?
But back to the Bee. Reporters seldom go to relevant meetings on the BDCP. They sit at their desks and conjure up Delta stories based on information they receive from the water agencies. They refuse to write about the distinct possibility of the tunnels sending northern California water south to frack oil wells. Had they been in attendance at a Delta Stewardship Council (DSC) meeting they would have heard this writer lay out the scenario where this could happen and hear DSC chairman Phil Isenberg comment, "It's possible."
Maybe the Bee is afraid of offending the California Chamber of Commerce and the politically hefty California Business Roundtable -the powers behind commerce in California. They want more water sent to the southland to fuel new development in the high desert areas east of Los Angeles. Is there a threat from them to deny advertising to the Bee if they don't go along with the BDCP program? Withholding of advertising is a powerful tool of the Captains of Industry to influence public opinion and the Bee, after all, has had a turbulent financial history. Would the oil companies withhold ads if the Bee printed anti-fracking articles like the San Diego Union?
The bottom line here is that the water agency media outlets do not want the true purposes of the twin tunnels to get out to the public. There would be an outcry from all over California if they did. So they use benign phrases like "a more reliable water supply for California"--which, because Northern California already has a reliable water supply really means southern California. They tell us "the Delta is aging and needs to be fixed" and "we must protect the people from earthquakes and climate change."
These are all cover stories aimed at convincing people that it's in their own best interests to support the twin tunnels. To sound even more sincere, the water agencies have thrown in "habitat restoration" when all the Delta fish and wildlife habitats need is for less water to be diverted south so there's more water left in the Delta!
The water agency's propaganda machine is taking the people of California to the cleaners, doing their best to strip our consciousnesses of all logic, hoping we'll ignore reality and buy into the BDCP's "pig in a poke" twin tunnels. The Bee has bought into it all.
Yes, It appears the Bee has lost its stinger!