Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Pat Murphy: Chevron’s Bogus Blogger Up to Old Tricks

Surprise, surprise: Pat Murphy, purveyor of the (a small online "newspaper" that sells editorial control of its opinions while pretending to offer neutral commentary) is once again carrying Chevron's water in the company's never-ending campaign to escape justice for its environmental catastrophe in Ecuador.

Pat Murphy

This time, Murphy has attacked the indigenous people of Ecuador suing Chevron for having the temerity to characterize Chevron's man-made, planned disaster in Ecuador as larger than BP's accidental spill in the Gulf. In Ecuador, Chevron discharged the equivalent of at least 345 million gallons of crude into the rainforest where six indigenous groups lived for centuries. Due to Chevron, all of those indigenous groups have seen their lifestyles devastated – not dissimilar to what is happening right now to the fisherman of Louisiana.

The U.S. government's most recent estimate is that BP has discharged between 18 and 39 million gallons of crude into the Gulf. At the top end, that's about one-tenth as large as the dumping Chevron did in Ecuador when its predecessor company Texaco operated a large oil concession from 1964 to 1990. Texaco's sludge, now Chevron's problem, is still there: Take a look at photos of the contamination and its impacts.

The question for Murphy is: Why is it a tragedy when 18 to 39 million gallons of contamination are spilled in America, but Chevron is getting "defrauded" when people call attention to 345 million gallons the company systematically dumped in Ecuador?

The answer is simple: Because in the world according to Chevron, Ecuadorian lives aren't worth much – particularly when they are indigenous people living in the forest. And, of course, BP isn't paying Pat Murphy to spread their propaganda while Chevron is.

Amazon Watch and the Amazon Defense Coalition have demonstrated that Pat Murphy is a paid blogger who has sold editorial control of his website to Chevron – an accusation that Murphy has never denied. (He once stated that he was not being paid directly by Chevron.) Over the past two years Murphy has offered a steady stream of commentary and misleading facts meant to discredit Chevron's critics – critics that Chevron is working hard to silence. And if you are Googling the Chevron case in Ecuador from Rotterdam or some other far-flung place, you might actually think the "San Francisco Sentinel" is the leading newspaper of San Francisco rather than one of the least-trafficked news sites on the Web (it ranked 171,939 in popularity among websites, compared to 851 for the San Francisco Chronicle).

Of course, the practice of blogging or writing articles on behalf of clients without disclosing payments is considered highly unethical. But that's never stopped Murphy before, and we don't expect it to stop him now. When you lay down with dogs, as Murphy has with Chevron, you get fleas.

If Murphy really wants to understand the issues in Ecuador – and not just squander any semblance of journalistic integrity that he might have once had (or thought he had) – we would invite him to visit the impacted region. If Murphy had to drink the poisoned water being forced on the local inhabitants because of Chevron, he might be slower to take what amounts to "blood money" to help cover up an environmental and human rights tragedy that is unparalleled on Earth.