The Best Media Chevron Can Buy

When Chevron "learned that '60 Minutes' was preparing a potentially damaging report," it "hired a former journalist" to tell its side of the story. For five months, former CNN reporter Gene Randall worked for the oil company. The subject of his video -- and CBS's "60 Minutes" segment -- is "a class-action lawsuit filed by Ecuadoreans who accuse Texaco, a company acquired by Chevron in 2001, of poisoning the rain forest," reports the New York Times. "An Ecuadorean judge is expected to rule soon on whether Chevron owes up to $27 billion in damages, which would make the case 'the largest environmental lawsuit in history.'" Not surprisingly, the Chevron-funded video is much kinder to the oil company. The Chevron video, which was posted online three weeks before the "60 Minutes" report aired, features company executives and consultants, but no interviews with the plaintiffs in the case. The video uses such news conventions as "Gene Randall reporting," which may confuse viewers. A producer with "60 Minutes" remarked that "his staff would have liked the same access that Mr. Randall had to Chevron. The oil company's chief environmental scientist appears in the corporate video, but 'they wouldn't let us interview her,'" he said. A member of the group Amazon Watch called the Chevon video "embarrassing public relations tactics" designed "to place all of the blame for Texaco's environmental disaster in Ecuador on PetroEcuador."